The point of a report
Being recognised as a writer can be a double-edged sword, especially if people don’t agree with what you say, discovers David Tomlinson
I’ve watched all the different championships: retrievers, springer spaniels, cockers, HPRS and pointers and setters. As social events I have enjoyed every one, as they offer a great opportunity to meet people and I’ve made some lasting friendships from chance encounters in the spectators’ gallery.
Occasionally I’m recognised: “Aren’t you that bloke who writes in Shooting Times?” I admit that
I am. Anything is then likely to follow, from praise for something that I have written to verbal abuse for an article that my acquaintance didn’t agree with. Once I was roundly told off for writing about golden Labradors when I should have said yellow Labradors. I don’t think that I’ve ever referred to a golden Labrador except in jest, but my denial wasn’t accepted.
I’ve only once reported on a championship for Shooting Times, which was the 2013 HPR final held on the Swinton estate in North Yorkshire. It was the first HPR Championship to be held for 17 years. After the 1996 final, the event was discontinued as the standard of gundog work was deemed to be too poor. The world of HPR trialling was put into what might be called special measures.
As it turned out, Swinton was a success and Mick Canham was a worthy winner with his German shorthaired pointer (GSP), FTCH Jhebron’s Nephrite of Stubblemere. But there were aspects of the competition that were not ideal. I questioned the logic of walking-up grouse in mid-
36 • SHOOTING TIMES & COUNTRY MAGAZINE November, when the birds are wary and difficult to approach, so getting a decent point was more a matter of luck than good dog work.
I am not an expert on HPRS, so I took the precaution of sending my report, before publication, to one of the most experienced HPR handlers and asking for his comments. The piece was amended accordingly.
Despite this, my resulting article was slammed on social media by various pundits who, though they hadn’t been at the trial, clearly thought they knew a lot more about it than I did. All I can say is that I had written what was an honest and truthful account of what I had seen, and a reflection of some of the views and comments I’d heard, or even overheard, during the two-day event. I’ve no doubt that sports writers who report on football matches get similar abuse all the time but it is an unpleasant experience.
Next week the 16th HPR Championship is being held
“Recent years have shown the depth of talent in the HPR world and the ability of less familiar breeds”
Two of the past four HPR championships have been won by German shorthaired pointers