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MY HUNT OF A LIFETIME
Walter R. Bimson
October 25, 1965
An American banker from Phoenix goes to Scotland for a week of shooting that turns out to be a matchless combination of elegance and action. Here, in a story he originally had privately printed for friends, Walter Bimson presents a straightforward account of a form of sport and a way of life that have all but vanished
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October 25, 1965

My Hunt Of A Lifetime

An American banker from Phoenix goes to Scotland for a week of shooting that turns out to be a matchless combination of elegance and action. Here, in a story he originally had privately printed for friends, Walter Bimson presents a straightforward account of a form of sport and a way of life that have all but vanished

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Monday

830 birds

Tuesday

450 birds

Wednesday

206 birds

Thursday

500 birds

Friday

275 birds

Saturday

115 birds

 

2,376 birds

THE WEEK 2,000 PHEASANTS FELL

You may well imagine how eagerly I accepted the invitation from Frank Denton and Bill Whiteford to accompany them on a shooting trip to Scotland. They had been invited to spend a week as guests of Colonel William Stirling at Keir, a family estate, at Dunblane, Perthshire, which is about 35 miles northeast of Glasgow. Beverley Matthews, a lawyer from Toronto, Harold Crang, an investment banker from Toronto, and Joe Bryan, an insurance executive from Greensboro, N.C., were going from this side, and we were to be joined in Scotland by Tommy Davies, Lord Chandos and Prince Radziwill, friends of the host from London.

I left Phoenix for New York, via TWA, on November 27, arriving at 4:30. After taking my overseas luggage (a duffel bag, a big suitcase and two gun cases) over to the BOAC terminal, I went into town to the Hotel Pierre, arriving in time for dinner. The following day was spent attending to some business chores, and that evening, Saturday, I went to the airport and, after a short wait, met Joe Bryan, Frank Denton and, later, Bill Whiteford, who was accompanied by the Gulf Oil Corporation's New York travel agent. After half an hour in the clubrooms we boarded the plane and took off at 9 p.m. for Prestwick airport, outside of Glasgow. We were flying in a 707 with Rolls-Royce engines.

About an hour out of New York, as the hostess was busily serving cocktails, we heard a mild explosion on the port side, and a few minutes later the captain announced that an engine had blown out and we were returning to Montreal, the nearest airport. Fifteen minutes later he reported that he had been ordered to fly to Bermuda , because there was no spare engine in Montreal. We arrived there about midnight. The BOAC people who met us said they were planning to divert a Toronto-to-London plane that would pick us up about 6 a.m. and take us to London.

Instead of waiting at the airport, Bill Whiteford decided he wanted to go to the Princess Hotel to spend the night. He called the manager, Bodo von Alvensleben, who invited us to come. We got into three small taxis and drove 30 minutes to the hotel.

The manager, a delightful person, seemed not a bit perturbed at being called out of bed at midnight. He had set up a bar in a corner suite overlooking the harbor. The night was clear and beautiful, the air soft and fragrant. The hotel is a beautiful old place, and we spent the night visiting pleasantly and convivially until a call from the airport sent us on our way again.

We embarked at 6 a.m. New York time and arrived at London airport at 5:30 in the afternoon London time. It was rainy and foggy, but we got in without difficulty. A Gulf Oil travel man met us at the terminal and got us through customs without delay, and a few minutes later we climbed into a small, two-engine chartered plane—a de Havilland Dove—and headed north for Scotland through the night. It took us two hours and 40 minutes, flying against a 40-knot wind, to make the 400 miles to the airport nearest Keir.

At the airport we were met by two Jaguar cars and two uniformed drivers from the manor house, plus a truck to carry our many bags and guns. Driving over winding roads through rolling country for 40 miles, our convoy finally came to the Stirling estate. A long driveway led into a narrow courtyard, where we unloaded. Our luggage magically disappeared, and we entered a long hallway, to be greeted by two servants who took us through other hallways, a reception room and finally into a dining room warmed by a fireplace. There we were met by our host and Tommy Davies, who were just finishing dinner.

It was 10 o'clock, and the hot soup served from a sideboard at the end of the room was warming and very welcome. Birds were served next in a delicious sauce; there was claret to drink and a cheese at the end with coffee and brandy. A pleasant chat about the program for the next day ended the evening, and we were ushered to our rooms. Mine was on the third floor—a small, pleasant room with a big window overlooking a formal garden. The room and my bath down the hall were warmed with portable electric heaters.

In my room I found all of my luggage unpacked and my clothes neatly put away. A servant arrived, asked what I wanted to wear for the next day's hunting and laid out the indicated clothing. He then informed me that he would awaken me promptly at 7:45 and that I was to appear for breakfast at 8:30 so the hunters could leave the house at 9:15.

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