The Macnab challenge
August 12 , 2016

The Macnab challenge

The Macnab is the greatest field sports challenge of modern times

Stalking, shooting, fishing, golfing, hill-walking, wildlife-watching, horse racing, riding, falconry – Perthshire and Angus can provide all the land-based sports and entertainment you could wish for. 

Many of The Red House’s guests are field sports enthusiasts and over the years we’ve built up a wide range of contacts to help them enjoy their visits to the area.

Some guests want a quiet holiday, fishing local lochs and rivers for trout and salmon, while others visit for the shooting.  A few come to try their hand at both, and a band of real enthusiasts try fishing, stalking and shooting all on one day, in an attempt to achieve a Macnab.

What’s a Macnab?

The Macnab, the greatest field sports challenge of modern times, takes its name from John Buchan’s 1925 novel John Macnab, in which three bored friends try to poach a salmon or grouse from each of three Highland estates within 48 hours, and return it to the owners, without being caught.

The modern Macnab is harder: now one person has to bag a brace of grouse, stalk and shoot a stag, and land a salmon – all within 24 hours.  One Angus estate even has a “double Macnab” challenge (two brace of grouse, two salmon and two deer within 24 hours); it was achieved in less than 5 hours by one person in 2015.

Admittedly the modern would-be Macnabber doesn’t have to do it while being pursued by the owners of the estates, unlike the protagonists of the book.  In fact, the owners of the estate have to give permission for the Macnab to take place on their land, and the challenge is supported by a number of field sports organisation.  It’s all very “proper” these days!

Even so, completing a Macnab requires excellent sporting skills, stamina, help from good gamekeepers, excellent organisation – and a huge dash of luck, too.  If, on the day, cloud comes down over the hill and makes the deer invisible, or the water’s too low for salmon to rise, or some other meteorological or biological disaster befalls you, you’re stymied.  You’ll still have a great day trying, but you won’t bag your salmon, grouse, and deer. 


You won’t bag them easily if you’re not in Scotland, either.  As a result, there are now regional variants of the Macnab all over Britain and, indeed, Argentina and Scandinavia; 11 categories in total, covering specialities ranging from wild pig to moose to goose.

Whether you’re attempting a Macnab, are happy to pass your time with a rod on some peaceful loch, or want to test your skills on a grouse moor or on the local golf courses, The Red House makes an ideal centre for a sporting holiday. 

We have all the facilities you need for drying and sorting gear, an excellent restaurant for breakfast and dinner, and a well-stocked bar where you can relive your day over a glass or two of Scotland’s finest.  We’ll happily provide a packed lunch if you need one and give you directions for finding the sporting challenge you crave.

Whatever your ambitions, contact The Red House to discuss your next sporting holiday.

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"Alan, I wanted to thank you for a great weekend.  All of the lads really enjoyed the hotel, loved the food, appreciated the service and noted your attention to try and keep us all happy.  Of course, the golf was great too, and that helped. We are a well travelled group, we have been going on golfing trips together for 25 years, so the lads know what good looks like and they loved this weekend all round. So big thanks to you for all your efforts.  Hope the rest of the season goes well." Ian Grimwade Stayed July 2017 
Ian Grimwade
"Alan, once again many thanks for our stay at your hotel last week.  Good food, excellant wine, a comfortable room and such friendly staff." Dot Chard Stayed June 2017
Dot Chard