By Janet Menzies of The Field
Monday, 24 September 2007
After months of training your young gun dog, it is understandable that you want to take it on its first shoot. But beware the pitfalls.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a gentleman in possession of a newly trained gun dog must be in want of an opportunity to work it on a shoot.
The start of the shooting season always brings a sense of anticipation, and our expectations are doubled if we have a young dog whose training has gone well through the summer. But such innocent hopes are undoubtedly going to be dashed at some point during the shooting ahead.
A young dog can be ruined in many ways. Here, in order of likelihood, are the main
instances where you might run into trouble.
On the peg
With birds and cartridges raining down in front of him, an inexperienced dog will run-in. If you screw him down he may start making a noise. Apart from very small days, keep your youngster away from the peg if you are shooting.
Other badly behaved dogs will lead your well brought-up novice astray. If you ask the line to wait while you get your dog back you are likely to be beaten by the beaters.
Most commercial shoots give no priority to dogwork. Unless you own the shoot, the chances of working your dog in a controlled way are nil.
Heavy cover gives your dog a chance to play up where you can't get at him. The presence in the line of inexperienced guns and disobedient dogs can make your day not just disappointing but dangerous.
Ask the keeper to let you stand back from the line and go for birds falling away from the main action. Avoid getting involved in runner-coursing, where two pickers-up send their dogs for the same runner.
If you know the right keepers and estates, this is the best bet for finding good dogwork, but even so the difficulty of the terrain and demanding nature of the work pose problems for young dogs.
Fowling and flighting
Wonderful as you don't have to get your dog involved until the very end. Whether it is an evening's duck-flighting or an afternoon in the pigeon hide, the dog can relax in the back of the vehicle until you have finished shooting, and then you can concentrate on working him.
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