Charlie Coups on Completing The Ladies MacNab Challenge!

11 Sep 2018

Charlie Coups on Completing The Ladies MacNab Challenge!

The Modern Day Challenge

Inspired by John Buchan in his novel ‘John Macnab’, three gentlemen, restless with the day in the countryside, decided to set a challenge. This entails to poach a salmon or a stag from a Scottish estate and return it undetected. Since then, the challenge has evolved into an attempt to stalk a red stag, bag a brace of grouse and catch a salmon all in the same day from dusk to dawn. Charlie Coups offers a look at the adventure and challenge of completing her MacNab Challenge. The below article is kindly written by Charlie Coups. Last year, in late August I took part in The Ladies’ Macnab Challenge generously hosted by founder Lucie Boedts-Kuehnle and her husband Florian at Tulchan Lodge in the Angus valley of Glenisla. Joined by fellow sporting enthusiast Marcus Janssen we were under no illusion that this was going to be an easy challenge and that the chances of even one of us being successful were slim. So, as we drove up the track towards the lodge, our thoughts were focused on just how lucky we were to have been offered the chance to attempt our first Macnab and whatever the outcome, we were determined to enjoy the experience. The following morning by a stretch of the Shee Water, a small tributary of the River Ericht, we met ghillie Dougy Morrison. By the time Marcus had fished down a second pool, it was clear that Salmo salar weren’t playing ball. The sun was starting to beat down and time was running out before we would have to return to the lodge for the next part of the challenge. It was the last chance of the morning when he insisted I fish the next pool down. With no more than 10 casts left before reeling in, my fly started to cover a lie that Dougy had mentioned usually holds a fish. And he wasn’t wrong. After 10 of the most nervous minutes of my life, Dougy carefully lifted the salmon onto the bank as I stood there in complete shock. The most elusive of sporting challenges had just become slightly more attainable. I almost dared myself to believe it could happen… Back at the lodge we piled into the estate vehicles and drove up the glen to a suitable spot where there would be a good chance of some grouse. I carried my shotgun through the heather and over peat hags, all the time trying to keep in line, catch my breath and remain focused. Luckily, it didn’t take long before we had both secured our brace of grouse. As my last bird fell, cheers echoed all around. Not only was Marcus off the mark, I was now two thirds into my Macnab, had shot my first ever brace of grouse and it was only just midday. After lunch and a few practice shots with the rifle, Headkeeper Bill Mearns and I headed to the hills. Our search eventually led us to the furthest end of the glen where we lay directly on a steep cliff edge, facing slightly downwards in the direction of a herd that were sheltering just below the mountain’s precipice. I waited for the stag I was to take to present itself for the shot. Minutes later, the stag stood up, walked to a clear position and presented itself broadside. Bill instructed me to take the shot when I was ready.  

I’d done it.

As the stag fell, a huge wave of emotion came over me and tears ran down my face. I felt overwhelmed by the entire experience, humbled that I had been given the opportunity to complete this once-in-a-lifetime challenge, relieved that my stag had died quickly, and incredibly proud of myself all in equal measure. Unbeknown to me until a few minutes later, Marcus had shot his stag moments before. Now on his way back to the river, he would try again for that elusive salmon. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait long and a couple of hours later, news from the riverbank confirmed that Marcus, too, had completed his Macnab. It was the perfect end to the most memorable sporting day I suspect both of us will ever have!   The MacNab Challenge Panerai for Purdey Pocket Watch The myth and spectacle of the Macnab Challenge comes to light in a one of a kind Panerai for Purdey pocket watch. The case back is engraved with a Macnab scene by Purdey’s master engravers and features the Stag, Red Grouse and Salmon. The edge of the case is encircled with Celtic patterns, emphasizing the historical and literary links between the Macnab challenge and Scotland.