One pervasive sentiment that is often spread through the grouse hunting community is the idea of the "traditional" grouse hunter. The idea being that because some of New England's most prolific outdoor writer hunted with an American made side by side, and a big headed, heavily marked, Belton English setter dictates that the tradition demand that it always must be so, and anyone who would break from the "tradition" is less of a grouse hunter. That's hogwash. Then, like now, those most entrenched in an activity used the most efficient equipment available. At one time certain side by sides were the most advance gun on the market. That's why they found their way in to the lives of those who paved the way. No doubt, if the grouse writers of the past were here today they'd just as likely be shooting a well balanced over and under with screw in chokes, ....because technology.
Why is this an issue? At a time when we should be recruiting new blood in to our sport the last thing we need is arbitrary benchmarks making it harder for them. People shouldn't be told they need to shoot a SxS to fit in, they should be being told they should be shooting a gun that fits them properly so they enjoy better success afield. People shouldn't be being told they need an English setter to fit in, they should be being told they need a well bred dog that fits their lifestyle so they enjoy better success afield. The guns, dogs, and various bits of kit that go afield are not one size fits all. The truth is, all one needs to be a successful grouse hunter is a gun that fits, and comfortable boots. So whether you shoot pump gun because it fits you well, or a SxS because one of your literary heroes did, shoot what you want. And, whether you shoot over a spaniel because everything is better with spaniels (Okay, a wee bit of bias), or an English Setter because one of your literary heroes did, shoot over which ever breed of dog you want. All that matters is that we all enjoy our time afield.
Less than "traditional" gun and dog getting it done.