When it comes to organising a dream shooting trip, there’s one man we always have on speed-dial: Gordon Robinson, who runs the Purdey Sporting Agency, alongside colleagues Matt and Helen.
Together, the team organises around 100 trips a year across the most prestigious estates in the UK, Spain, South Africa and Argentina, offering a truly bespoke experience every time. “One of the advantages of booking with us is that we’re instructors, so there’s that ability to work with and assist clients,” Robinson tells us, when we meet at the Purdey Shooting School in Berkshire where the Sporting Agency is based. “Although, some people are very experienced and just want us to pour the champagne, we can do that too!” he smiles. “You can’t do this job unless you enjoy it – we’re fanatical about shooting, fanatical about the countryside, we understand the land and the techniques. It’s all about education, you never stop learning and passing that enjoyment and knowledge on.”
Robinson has been in the game for over 26 years, and during that time has arranged all manner of trips. “There are people who’ve been with us for the past 20 years, buying days at the same estate. Then there are those who want to go somewhere different every year. Some who take six days, some who take one. And, if a client is looking for something specialist that we don’t currently offer, we would definitely know someone who does and help to facilitate it.”
The team manages everything: matching the client to the estate and vice versa, taking care of all admin and details – from supplying cartridges and gun hire if needed, to booking hotels, insurance and licences – plus hosting the trip itself. “We sort out the nitty gritty, so everything is right,” Robinson summarises. “Just to make it hassle free, that’s the value we add.”
His perfect trip with the Sporting Agency? “The best scenario is taking a team you’ve worked with for years, to an estate you’ve been working with for years – so you arrive and it’s like seeing old friends on one hand, old friends on the other, and you’re joining friends together who have never met each other. It’s just a party.”
Here’s a rundown of what you can expect from the Purdey Sporting Agency, in some amazing locations across the UK and around the world.
Arguably, the finest shooting in the world is found in the UK and the Sporting Agency works with the best of the best when it comes to country estates, from the Highlands of Scotland to the Valleys of Exmoor. “Our UK trips are usually driven shooting – grouse, pheasant or partridge, depending on the season. We really give a sense of that traditional British way of shooting that hasn’t changed much since Victorian times,” Robinson describes.
Every UK trip is hosted by the Sporting Agency. “We’re there to make sure everyone has a nice time. I can usually tell if somebody’s having a great time within the first few minutes – and if they are, I’ll let them get on with it. If they’re not, I’ll try to identify why and work with them to make it right. Maybe I’ll go on their peg for a bit and help with their shooting technique. Or, it could be that they stayed up too late the night before and just need a coffee!”
At some estates there are other country pursuits on offer, such as deer stalking, fishing and wild bird shooting. “It’s a complete sporting experience,” says Robinson. “On a wild-bird or species day, you don’t really know what you are going to get. You flush out ponds, you walk bits of woodland, you might get English partridge, duck, geese, maybe woodcock… And that’s part of the enjoyment, the unknown. Shooting wild birds is always quite special, you have no idea what that game card is going to say at the end of the day.”
With globally renowned hospitality across nine exclusive estates – one in Mallorca; eight on the mainland, near Seville, Madrid and the Portuguese border – the Sporting Agency’s trips to Spain are as much about the culture as they are a shooting experience.
Trips tend to be for two or three days and are perfect for teams of eight, although groups of six to 10 can work. Accommodation is set up for travelling guns, whether you’re staying in luxurious lodge or 5* hotel. Partners are welcome, too – for those who might not want to shoot but would like to extend the holiday, there are plenty of activities available, from hiking to mountain biking and horse riding.
“The birds are similar to those you’d expect in the UK, mainly red-legged partridge, but the Spanish guns philosophy of shooting is big numbers – they tend to pick the lowest, closest birds, rather than the more challenging shots generally preferred by UK guns. We look for the more challenging drives for our clients,” Robinson shares. “Everything is taken care of, so you can just relax. It’s a leisurely start, then after the first drive we all meet at the table outside for tapas. The Spanish do it differently; these trips are always amazing.”
The Córdoba province in Argentina is a two-hour flight from Buenos Aires, and is celebrated as one of the premium locations in the world for dove shooting. These trips are usually coordinated with our contacts in Argentina; you can expect exceptional hospitality across beautiful estates, and shooting quite unlike anywhere else in the world.
The landscape is incredible, from mountains to maize farms, rolling hills, dry creek beds and narrow valleys – and the doves there are considered wild birds, much like pigeons in the UK. They are fast-flying and it’s all about high-volume shooting in Argentina, though the experienced guides are always happy to tailor the trips to suit your preferred type of shoot.
The quality and variety of shooting that can be found in South Africa is staggering. Though the country is synonymous with game hunting, our trips tend to lead with birds. There’s the rock pigeon, or speckled pigeon as they’re called in South Africa, which are considered to be some of the most difficult to shoot – and their numbers are high. There’s also a lot of great wild duck and goose shooting, plus many other species, including upland birds like Francolin, a type of partridge.
These trips are perfect for groups of six, though four to eight can work. It’s a continuous flight from the UK to Johannesburg, and only an hour’s time difference, which means there’s no jet lag to hold you back. The Sporting Agency package includes all shooting, transfers and accommodation in private lodges across several top estates around Bloemfontein – and traditional South African game hunting with a rifle can easily be added. All you have to do is book your flight, and prepare to enjoy some of the most exhilarating wild bird shooting you will ever experience.
Find more details about the Purdey Sporting Agency, here.