Saturday, 4 September 2010

Insecticidal tendencies...

We're now well into our grouse season and, as our pre-season counts indicated, we're having a bumper year. The average bag for each day is hovering around the 100 brace (200 bird) mark. This seems to be the case regardless of where on the estate we're going or who's doing the shooting. (No offence, but shooting ability varies greatly from person to person. And no-where is it needed more than on a day of driven grouse.)

A season like this really raises the moods of everybody involved. It's just as well really as it's turning out to be a bumper year for midges too. For the past week we've had a high pressure system sitting over the country. This has given us a week of dry, settled weather. And no winds.

For those of you who have never experienced the Scottish midge, I have only one thing to say to you- lucky swines!! Pound for pound, the midge has got to be the most voracious bloodsucker on this earth. And at this time of year when it's mild and the wind speed drops below 4 knots, they come out in their millions. And that's no exaggeration.

Through a combination of their diminuitive size (say 1-2mm long) and this sheer weight of numbers, they are tough cookies to deal with. Swatting them is like trying to swat smoke. Repellants are like Gentlemans Relish for them. They'll tunnel through loose-weave clothing (wool socks!) and exploit the smallest chinks in your garbs defenses (button flies-aarrrgghh!!).

I confess I would have lost my sanity lang syne if it weren't for one thing; the midge net. This is a fine mesh net with an elasticated hem that goes over your head. It's simple, effective (for your head, anyway) and makes you look like a complete dork. However, so does running about the hill, frantically waving your arms and screaming like a girl.

No, as far as discoveries go, the midge net has to be up there with the wheel, fire, and the Venetian blind (without which it would be curtains for us all.)

They've got to be worth their weight in gold...... but I reckon I could get double that if I timed it right.

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