After having a pretty good first half to the season I'm trying to bring the dog on a bit in the second half on our syndicate. I turned up on time with eager dog, and only three other guns showed.What???? All paid up, perfect weather on Saturday and lots of birds still around so no idea what's going on. We need new members I guess, with enthusiasm.
Anyway two of the guys said they saw a lot of birds running around the back of some barns so we decided to head that way first rather than the usual drives. I knew my dog was not too steady as she had not been out for two days and was pulling at the lead when I took her out first thing to burn off some energy. She even ran in on some sheep. (are all labs deaf when they get into season or just mine?) Anyway, no sheep in this field so off the lead and round the hedges with another gun the other side, the other two were waiting in some woods underneath us for any we pushed over. We got about 3/4 of the way round and she saw a runner in the distance, and that was that. Off she went, no recall or whislte or pleading working and off over into the woods. I heard some birds go up and some shots, got close to and then she came back. I took her back to where she legged it from and made her finish the hedge, bagging a very big bunny for my effort so at least I wasn't going to blank even if I couldn't control my dog.
We moved on into the woods, the birds are all holding cover and without a dog you just wouldnt see them. I got her working well and once she knew there were still targets around she got into the gorse and sent up another 8-10 birds. Two were shot as the gun line just wasnt long enough and we are all crap shots. I called an end and then I was asked to send my dog on a long retrieve through thick mud down a steep bank.Fair play, she went direct to the bird without being asked and brought it straight back to hand. (That's a big improvement from last year when she ran off and ate them.)
The next drive didnt see much with just one bird up, 2 shots at it and nothing to show for the effort.
For the third drive 2 guns went underneath a steep fir tree wood standing out in the field whilst me and the dog were driven in a trailer by quad to a field behind the wood. The driver then took off to join the others and I went walking gun, a punt gun may have been more appropriate as this was the top of the water table, the field was saturated and the dog was elbow deep most of the way. Luckily I had good boots and over trousers so dry feet the whole way but didn't see anything till I got to the back of the wood.
This was good hideout territory and it seemed bird after bird flew down the steep slope and out over the guns. Plenty of birds but coming up too close for me to shoot, nothing peeling behind. I had a couple of pot shots once they were a way out but shouldnt have bothered. By the time we got to the bottom of the wood and called it I reckon about 15 had been sent over the top of the three guns, plenty of dinners coming up then I thought. Well happy.
One got shot.
Oh well, still plenty of oppurtunity after lunch.
Another lift for us all to the next point, guns in place and lots of birds up, 5-8 at once in some places. Again the dog was working too far ahead but pleanty of sport for the others and we were all having fun. A few were shot here and a fox pushed out of cover missed by one gun,who said he thought at first it was my dog so fair play for checking! another was reloading and the third had his back to it as he was looking at trees which he thought needed removing for next season. Great. Gonna have to return with a rifle and do some vermin control, this fox has lasted a whole season.
I have been asked to remove it with my .22lr but am waiting for a .243 application to go through ( the police were quite sure i AM NOT ALLOWED to shoot this with a .22). Playing ball for now.
One drive left walking guns along a steep wooded valley with a river at the bottom, a short walk from the last point. I left for the far side and let the others get in place. the dog had now been working hard for around 4 hours so most of the steam had gone, should be a sedate walk with some high birds through the tree tops. I opened the gate and in she went. She got a scent of something on the top line and that was that. Again.
Whistle ,calling and a bit of panic as I'm thinking this is a big wood and I might be here deep into the dark looking for her. So I walked on with the gun open and put more effort into looking for the dog than any birds. About 40 meters on I heard some phesants pushed up and cursed as Im thinking they are too far ahead for anyone and i'm going to strangle my dog and suffer the divorce. It will be worth it.I want revenge now.
I caught up with her close to the end of the wood and called her back. Back she came. Then she saw the lead, lifted her head and sniffed then legged it again. Over a barbed wire fence into some holly and the biggest cock phesant Ive seen went directly up and over to my left about 45 feet out just above the tree tops. Gun snapped shut and took it as a crosser, first barrel and it folded then fell down the valley into the edge of the river on the far side. Not even asked, the dog was in, across pick up and return to hand. Mint. Now I cant tell her off for running on or she wont get why!
Still wanting some kind of balance I took her her back to the start, or rather she smelt the scent on the top line and ran back the other way to see if she could find it. Fox? Anyway I dropped down to the river and calf deep meant slower going so we worked our way back at a kind of pace we should have achieved in the beginning. Nothing till the end then again she legs it into a bush and a runner comes out, and keeps running. She chased it for 30 meters downhill into the river then brought it back to me. The gun from the far side then yells out 'watch out for my bird, it landed your side'. already found it mate.
Back at the quad for a lift to the cars a final tally of 6 birds, one bunny and a whole heap of fun.
Today she has come into season fully with first blood spots so thats it for her on the shoot now ( no bad thing, although 3 brilliant retrieves and lots of birds put up). I have to work on getting her back.
so first dog 3 1/2 years old.
normally she comes back no problem, will go out, left and right no problem.
normally she walks to heel on lead and by my side off lead.
she likes to work rough shooting at about 20-30 feet ahead of me and hunt.
she likes to retrieve (now).
BUT any advice on how to stop her legging it once she's on a scent when everything at that point goes out the window.?