This page just shows a few selected photographs and articles reflecting some of our Shooting Days.
A Good Hare Day 2013
The UK is the home of driven game shooting, we can offer training days on variety of estates that will let one experience a range of excellent game days designed to complement each dogs training plan. Our driven shooting is not just about the shooting, but rather the experience and camaraderie that is all part of what makes for a great social day out. The brown hare has had mixed fortunes in the UK and this once widespread animal was sadly in decline over the last two decades. However with recent changes to farming practices and specific help this wonderful quarry species has made a dramatic comeback.
One thing that the hare population requires is a specific density, and as such some of our estates that are lucky enough to have strong populations, undertake a management programme in January & February in order to avoid large population crashes. Our hare day was spent on an estate with a strong hare population and was part of a game management programme. “Our thanks must go to Sarah the gamekeeper for her excellent organization of the shoot and also to the guns who shot true and provided the trainees with quarry to pick”.
One cold and dry overcast windless Saturday morning eleven handlers and dogs plus a team of eight guns joined together for a driven hare day under the guidance of the resident gamekeeper Sarah and Gaynor‘s tutorage. There were a mixed bunch of trainees all of whom were handling competent field dogs - one Golden Retriever, eight Labrador Retrievers and two Cocker Spaniels.
From the very start Gaynor made it clear that all handlers had to comply with good practice on the shooting field and the walk up line had to remain straight. We began on a large straight dry field with three walking guns and five waiting for the quarry at the far side of the field; we walked slowly towards the waiting guns. The drive spanned the length of the field and served to drive the hares towards the guns waiting at the other side.
One hare took off and ran behind the line and provided a tempting proposition for Sue and Karen, the remaining hares were downed by the forward guns. There were sufficient hares to allow each dog an inaugural retrieve; without question, the finest retrieve of the first round was performed by Ady and his dog Ray – out and back very tidily. Also with stylish and tidy first retrieves were Geoff handling Kate and Clare handling her Goldie Lacey. After each dog had ‘got their eye in’ so to speak, we drove the second field and a hare who had the temerity to rise in front of the feet of Gaynor’s dog Alan, caused him to simply rock in awareness then totally ignore it as it took off towards the wood. It proved a little too tempting for Georgia, John’s young bitch but this is what training is all about – finding out about your dog; after the realization that she had to remain steady at her handlers side, Georgia settled to her task.
After the drive ended, Clare and Lacey made another nice job of their second retrieve whist Leo under Fran’s guidance made a stylish job of his – straight out and back with his quarry direct to his handler. All the time, the Cocker Spaniels were working their legs off and not to be outdone by the bigger dogs, Ziggy, handled by Helen brings back the biggest hare of the day! Doesn’t he look proud of himself. Alan and Gaynor work nicely to bring their second retrieve in and we are all then treated to a text book retrieve of a long diagonal blind by Richie, an Open trialling dog, handled by Ronnie, though his choice of hold on the hare was ‘unusual’ and would have caused a tear to many a bonny lad!
Training for steadiness was fundamental and additional aspects were obstacles to negotiate – all tuition was readily accepted and any improvement areas noted for addition to individual training plans.
The line reconvened in a third field driving the hares towards a combination of field and woodland. At the end of the drive the dogs each had their third retrieve; a useful exercise in handling ensued as the ground proved quite challenging to the younger dogs as it undulated on an awkward downslope away from them. Geoff and Kate brought back their quarry nonetheless. whilst Andy and Tess shared a lovely 80 yard retrieve from the line.
It was in the third field where we had our ‘magic moment’ when a bomb hole in the middle of the field plus a sharp cross wind proved seriously off putting to two younger dogs; up stepped Brian, a gun for the day and local keeper and despite his best efforts was out of the area of the fall. It was left to Sarah, the shoot’s keeper to step up with Fern who she sent straight to the fall to pick effectively performing a three dog technical eye wipe to a loud cheer from the girls!
A Great Day Out Training the Dogs to Pick Hares 2012
On Saturday 25th February 2012, dogs, handlers and guns met at 9 am to set off across the fields in search of Hares. There were plenty in evidence scampering across all the fields ahead. At one point some 20 were counted in one field, seemingly awaiting our arrival. Several others intent on playing ‘tag’ shot across in front of and behind the line. For myself, I was feeling quite proud as I said, ‘Leave it!’ , about 5 times in a row; regarding hares to my, and my dog’s left (watching her closely, of course) and 15 month old Bramble remained by my side.
However, as should have been expected, a hare came shooting across from my right followed immediately by Bramble, and, shortly thereafter, but much more slowly, by me! Needless to say, Bramble didn’t catch the hare, and I didn’t catch Bramble. She eventually returned and I explained that had not been a good choice. The other, steadier dogs showed some good form, picking up hares with style. Bramble did eventually pick her first hare well, though, as one gun said: “She was slower picking it than chasing it!”
Col and Drift, our lovely golden retrievers had a great time, not chasing hares, but picking them really well. The use of unorthodox commands might be frowned upon by purists. Notably “Go back to daddy!” However, as Col did indeed set off back towards Ronnie Gent, the gun by the required hare, and did indeed retrieve it; it was deemed acceptable on this occasion, to those watching. It was left to Ziggy, the gorgeous cocker spaniel to take up the Bramble’s baton, but more quickly and further, much to his owner Helen’s chagrin. However, watching Ziggy retrieve a hare his own size, willingly and effortlessly was a joy to behold and outweighed the earlier faux pas. A great day was had by all; all trainees gained a great deal from the experience, taking many training points away with them. Many thank to Sarah as gamekeeper, for organising the shoot. Also thanks to the guns who’s shooting provided the hares for us to pick. For more details on Training, please go to our Training Page. Karen Cameron.