For those who aren’t familiar with the Macnab challenge the let me explain:
The Macnab is a challenge whereby you have to shoot yourself a stag, catch a salmon and bag a brace of grouse. In 24 hours. The challenge is in association with The Field magazine and is in their sixth year now – being that well established is already a good indication of how popular it is.
The Macnab challenge website tells us this: ‘It pits skill and endurance against the clock and unpredictable quarry. Anyone can stand in line and crumple a stately pheasant, but to take three species in one day requires another type of expertise altogether – and good fortune if a stag, a salmon and a brace of grouse are to be taken within 24 hours.’
The prize? Other than a bloody good story to tell you get exclusive silver Macnab cufflinks and an invitation to The Field and Pol Roger Portfolio event, which is given to the first 25 valid Macnab Entries received.
The rules (click on the picture above to enlarge) are simple yet strict and it really does look like they are encouraging anyone to give it a go. Or so it seems..?
Peter Swales, a sporting agent tells the August issue of The Field: “Anywhere there are stags, salmon and grouse a Macnab is possible […] But nothing is guaranteed. The main thing is to have enough personnel available to make it happen, so when you have caught your fish you are ready to go straight to the hill. It is much harder to organise as an individual but it can be done. It is either forward planning or completely accidental.”
Sounds pretty encouraging right? Take a look at those rules again, specifically the one saying ‘All Macnabs to be undertaken at the competitors expense.’ This is completely reasonable, don’t misunderstand me there, but let’s be honest, you’re never going to be bagging yourself a stag, a salmon and a brace of grouse in 24 hours on a budget are you?
Is this a way of keeping some aspects of fieldsport just for the elite like it was considered once upon a time, many moons ago? And – now this is where I’m torn – would that really be a bad thing?
If it were a case of the Coots-card-owning, disposable-spare-time wealthy trying to take back a little of fieldsports just for themselves then that seems a bit archaic and I can imagine most people saying share your toys folks because we’re not stopping anytime soon! But to take the challenge as an incredibly serious pursuit, the not-for-your-average-Joe… well, don’t hate me, I’m OK with that in some respects. HOWEVER I know a lot of people who take shooting, fishing and hunting very seriously indeed and are overwhelmingly skilled, but they, pure and simply, will never-ever-ever be able to afford the thousands to tens of thousands of pounds it would cost to take part in a Macnab.
I do understand it isn’t the fault of The Field or even the estates that offer it (to some extent), it is just the cost of sports these days. This is an issue, also, to those who see the Macnab as a goal to work towards. I may be female and in my twenties and shoot mostly for fun and casually but it’s only going to get more serious as a hobby and yet challenges like this are only going to get more expensive and more out of reach.
So… The Macnab: Just for the elite, or something for us all to work for? I just can’t decide but it sounds like an incredible opportunity and a hell of a lot fun.