Your Gundog needs to work particularly when you go to a commercial shoot. The pickers up who work for the Estate have their duties, and will do them very well; so if you take your dog with you, he more or less has nothing to do. Pickers up work their dogs hard every weekend and regular get much more practice in unlike your own Gundog.
In syndicates this isn’t necessarily a problem I hope because your Gundog and the other Gun’s dogs are use to doing the picking up work by rotating through in turn. That is why commercial shoots generally have fewer Guns bringing their Gundog with them than your average syndicate shoot. Because this the picking up team are solidly in charge.
much better arrangement than the; ‘conveyor belt’ methodology that some commercial shoots run
The other point is that commercial suits are organised around certain bag limit and therefore the pickers ups are as efficient as possible and clean up as fast. Almost as soon as the bird hits the ground so they can meet their target. Then its off to the next drive. It would be better if the Estate; the pickers up and the Guns all had a solid working relationship together. This is a much better arrangement than the; ‘conveyor belt’ methodology that some commercial shoots run.
a lot of their customers see shooting just as a ‘country sport’ as if it is just one of a number of the other ‘events’ that they do
Any self-respecting Gun enjoys working their Gundog well. The dog has also been trained specifically to do this task will enjoy doing it all the more if they get the chance. Picking up is a pleasurable experience for a Gun to see their own Gundog at work. Some enjoy the picking up process as much as the shooting itself believe it or not! The onus is on you the owner; if you bring your Gundog with you, to work it.
One of the problems is commercial shoots have is a lot of their customers see shooting just as a ‘country sport’ as if it is just one of a number of the other ‘events’ that they do, whether it’s sailing; the Theatre, Opera or golf. Or, as in this case the shooting season is here “Therefore I will dress the part and go and do some shooting and enjoy my day out”. Just as if it is ‘entertainment’.
These ‘Guns’ who between drives are constantly blabbing back to the office about what a day they’re having
It is not their shoot or estate, and next week they will be doing something else so there’s no real downside to walking away from the peg with a few birds flapping about it and shot gun cases littered all over the floor. These ‘Guns’ who between drives are constantly blabbing back to the office about what a day they’re having are possibly the worst kind, and commercial shoots see them all the time. What would be wrong with a no mobile phone policy I ask? Surely that call cannot be than important.
let them know that if you bought your dog you intend to use it
Pickers up on these commercial shoots therefore see this problem all the time. Quite often you’ll hear them moaning about this behaviour, and not without reason. Obviously the problem then is that they can start to treat all customers or clients in the same manner and that’s not necessarily reasonable. Many clients have not just driven out from town to kill things, they live a country life and wish to participate fully in it.
It is therefore your job to perhaps let them know that if you bought your dog you intend to use it. If there is a problem during the day maybe it is the fact that you haven’t actually bothered to tell the pickers up that you’d like your own dog will pick up your own birds!
Communication should always run between the Shoot Captain; the Guns, the gamekeeper, the pickers up, the beaters
Commercial shoots because they are interested in the client experience sometimes do very little to organise communication between all of those taking part. Not only that, but all those taking part in the shoot are not necessarily those paying for it. Communication should always run between the Shoot Captain; the Guns, the gamekeeper, the pickers up, the beaters. Perhaps gamekeepers and Shoot Captains should pay a Bit More Attention to this. Perhaps we should all be a little more considerate. So if you want to work your Gundog say so.
It is not reasonable however for you to be shooting and directing your Gundog dog at the same time. Nothing will ruin your concentration or your day more. You need 100% concentration not only to hit your bird; but just remain safe. Guns therefore should not work dogs during the drive. However I really don’t think it sensible to have pickers up working their dogs hard around the Gun while he is shooting either.Some guns will be used to this experience; however if Gun is paying several hundred or thousand pounds per day and this will generally ruin his ‘experience’.
when a bird comes down that is injured it only sensible to point out where it is or send your own Gundog in pursuit of the wounded quarry
So there have to be a few rules set out about picking up at the outset. This is really the Shoot Captain’s role when he briefs the Guns at the beginning of the day. There is really no reason to have to pick your birds up when standing in a clear field in the middle of nowhere because they can be seen; but in thick woodland or undergrowth, when a bird comes down that is injured it only sensible to point out where it is or send your own Gundog in pursuit of the wounded quarry.
Ideally then there must be some happy medium
Gundogs should never be allowed to work in front of the Guns during the drive as the chances of being shot is incredibility high.
Ideally then there must be some happy medium between you working your own dog and the pickers up doing their job properly and well respect of the quarry and experience with a gun who after all this paid for their day.
The best run shoots are those that keep your pickers up a good distance behind the Guns. So you see that they can keep an eye on all fallen birds, efficiently picking them up but do so without disturbing the Guns so they can enjoy their sport.
This is obviously easier to do when high birds are being displayed as pickers up can be several hundred yards behind the Guns. Particularly if there is a clear field of view of all the fallen game birds, so as soon as the horn sounds then they can start working their way forward with their dogs and efficiently collect and dispatch all the birds.
Pickers up in this way give any gun who has bought his Gundog with him plenty of time to work his dog bringing a number of birds bring into his feet. By doing this means the Gun also sees the maximum enjoyment for his day.
extremely well trained dogs that will pick up any runners or wounded game flapping in the field then the birds are relieved of any suffering
Generally the shoot should have one or perhaps two pickers up stand directly behind the guns with extremely well trained dogs that will pick up any runners or wounded game flapping in the field then the birds are relieved of any suffering which was something we all think is best for our sport both ethically and presentation-ally.
Communication is therefore the key. It is probably best to let your host know what you expect from the day right at the beginning of the day, which of course you can do on a commercial shoot. They can then let the pickers up know and give you a wide birth so that you can work your dog at the appropriate time.
It is then up to the shoot owner to accommodate this
When you are a guest of someone there may be a few questions about how this may be done. It is probably worth asking if you can work your Gundog straight away. For example “Would you like to come and shoot on our Estate in the Autumn?”, “Yes thank you that is a kind offer, may I work my Gundog?” It is then up to the shoot owner to accommodate this and you will know straight away whether you can bring him.
On the day itself the shoot captain will take responsibility for all communication allowing people to voice their views free and fairly without being overbearing or dictatorial. By observing and communicating the host or Shoot Captain can ensure that everyone has the best day they possibly can.