Just a short write up for those of us mad enough to have a ESS as a gun/deer dog and companion!
I am lucky to have a very calm, biddable and thoroughly enjoyable 2yr old Springer who from 3 months old has stalked across moor and bog, heath and marsh, hay and crops and spent many an hour watching the world go by from the bottom of a high seat. She is a "utility" dog! A soft bundle of fun for the children on the settee curled up in front of the telly, a patient and trusty companion when waiting for fallow and sika and a wonderful peg dog when pheasants are flying and falling.
Took her out the other night on a patch of mine where fallow are regular visitors. We did the usual loop around the fields and copses, ending up in a recently cut barley field bounded 3 sides by mature woodland....fallow heaven! On cue, just at dusk, a solid looking black pricket mooched out of the wood and casually started browsing along the headland about 160m away from me. The light was falling and the age old stalking dilemma played out as the angel on one shoulder argued with the devil on the other. The little horned one, won and the hard "twump" of a 95 grain bullet hitting the engine room of the fallow echoed across the barley field.
The fallow took a couple of staggering steps, turned 90 degrees and disappeared in the gathering gloom of the dense woodland.....
Not to be perturbed ....I quickly strode to the spot where the deer had disappeared into the wood and with an encouraging "Go seek....Where is it?" sent Super Springer on her way.
A Bavarian she is not and as she turned right, criss crossed, snuffled and quartered along a well worn track, a waggy undocked spaniel tail disappeared into the bracken and dense woodland cover as she followed the unseen scent. The woods became darker and darker and after following her for 200-300m she finally turned around and trotted back along the track completely disinterested.
We retraced our steps back to the last known spot where I had seen the fallow struck and again encouraged the little lady to "Go seek....."
This time she suddenly turned left and with a super sensitive Springers nose started in the opposite direction to where we had been.....
Deeper and deeper, darker and darker, into dense Dorset woodland. Dusk had almost become night and with a torch beam following the white & liver tail, onwards into the gloom we struggled.
Just when all seemed lost and the excuses were being prepared for the Good Lady as to why we were so late home, there came an uncharacteristic bark and growl. Quickly chasing her up, there was my little lady standing proudly staring at a very big, very dead, and very hidden in the bracken and bramble, fallow pricket!
A big fuss and plenty of praise was lavished on the proud Spaniel and after a sweat inducing drag back to the edge of the field, a swift gralloch yielded some choice liver, heart and kidney treats for the little dog!
She's not the best tracker you'll ever see, she cant compete with the Bavarians but that night she certainly saved a beast that I may otherwise have lost. She is great fun and a wonderful shooting & stalking companion!