The Shooting Party

A photographic essay.
by R. Valentine Atkinson
From the August 2009 Issue

You might say there’s nothing more elegant or traditional or magnetically engaging than shooting high-flying driven pheasants in a lush green-and-gold autumn, wearing breeks and tweeds and carrying a sculpted side-by-side older than your grandfather.

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That there’s nowhere more heart-stoppingly beautiful than a great estate in the border country of Scotland and England. Nowhere with history so close to the touch—Rob Roy, the Covenanters, Hotspur Percy, the Pennines, the Cheviot Hills, Hadrian’s Wall.
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You might say the grand British shooting party is a pre–Great War artifact reserved then only for the upper classes and now preserved only in the literature of its demise—Virginia Woolf’s short story, Isabel Colegate’s novel, and the movie starring James Mason and John Gielgud. But the shooting’s still there, and the estates, and in these egalitarian times you no longer need be Lord Whortleberry’s favorite nephew to briefly live the life. You need only the time and the money. And, of course, a jacket and tie.
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