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The Ultimate Challenge for the Outdoor, Gun Owning, Kind of Guy


At dawn on the 2nd of September, on what I’m thinking will be a cool and foggy Scottish morning; my first fall hunt of 2016 will begin. Only a few hours later, at sundown, it will end. One day – less than 24 hours – to catch a salmon, take a stag, and shoot a brace of grouse. This could be the ultimate sportsman’s challenge.

John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir was a Scottish novelist, historian, and Unionist politician who served as Governor General of Canada. Buchan had a storied career in British politics but he was mostly a writer who penned one of the best hunting and fishing stories of all time. Most have never heard of it partly because it was written in 1925 and partly because it was about poaching.


11 years ago Chris Ellis and I embraced on our first big game hunt outside of West Virginia. Since then we have hunted all over North America and in several other countries. We felt it was time we took on the ultimate sportsman’s challenge.

The story – the book John Macnab – has inspired various sportsmen challenges throughout the world. In Scotland where the story is set, the ”Macnab Challenge” consists of shooting a red stag, a brace of grouse, and catching a salmon, all within one day. The objects of the challenge vary throughout the world where imitations of this quest are attempted.

I’ll be hunting with a fellow hillbilly; a man who I have shared the field with across West Virginia, all over the United States, and in several other countries. Our goal is for both of us to complete the “Macnab” but should we find our skills lacking, or the game uncooperative, we will attempt to complete it as a team. This would mean that between the two of us we would have to catch at least one salmon, shoot one stag, and take at least two grouse.



Stewart Collingswood with Alba Game Fishing, in conjunction with the Scone Palace has put this adventure together for us. We will not be trying to fit in with the Scots by using best quality Purdey shotguns and rifles; we are taking the hillbilly approach and will both be shooting Remington 700s and 870s. (Hold the comments about shotguns and me. I’ve always maintained they were meant for things that fly and grouse firmly fit within that category.) Both rifles will also be outfitted with Swarovski riflescopes. My 270 is topped off with the new Z8i 1-8X, which just might be the best riflescope in the world.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 12.42.48 PMContrary to what you might think, even though this hunt an aristocratic smell to it, the travel is the most expensive part of this adventure. The difficult part is arranging the “Macnab” with an outfit capable of pulling off a reasonably successful attempt. We will try to provide video updates with regard to our progress but in the mean time, I suggest you get in the mood for your hunting this fall by reading John Macnab and maybe you can even devise your own Macnab Challenge to attempt in your favorite place to hunt, whether it is on grandpa’s old farm or out behind your house.