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Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - GUNDOGS - Email: dhtom­lin­son@bt­in­ter­net.com

y re­cent ar­ti­cle on Ital­ian gun­dogs

10 Oc­to­ber) prompted a fas­ci­nat­ing re­sponse from Shoot­ing Times reader Håkan Schön, who lives in the Swedish town of Gävle, which is about 100 miles north of Stock­holm. He wrote to tell me that he is suc­cess­fully us­ing two

for rough shoot­ing. His quarry species in­clude black­grouse, ca­per­cail­lie, wil­low grouse and ptarmi­gan. He as­sures me that “are my best hunting bud­dies”, work­ing in much the same way as a cocker spaniel.

are as rare in Swe­den as they are here and Håkan’s ac­qui­si­tion of his first came about by co­in­ci­dence. His older bitch, Sally, was bred by the Ken­nel Rown­tree at Fu­ru­vik, a small town sis­ter’s keeper pa­trolled the bound­ary on shoot days and no one, not even a dog, was al­lowed to tres­pass across.

Far from safe

The third drive of the day was close to the bound­ary, so I had no choice but to stand, with my spaniels, un­com­fort­ably close to one of the Guns. Un­for­tu­nately one par­tic­u­lar Gun, a man of se­nior years, proved to be far from safe, shoot­ing low and con­tin­u­ing to fire af­ter the horn had been blown at the end of the drive. close to Gävle. Her orig­i­nal own­ers were sep­a­rat­ing, so they re­turned her to the ken­nel. The ken­nel’s owner is a friend of Håkan’s and sug­gested that he might give Sally a try to see if she would be any use for shoot­ing.

He did so and was de­lighted by how well she worked, de­spite no for­mal train­ing, hunting through thick cover and us­ing her ex­cel­lent nose to great ef­fect. She also stayed close to him in­stinc­tively, an im­por­tant point when hunting wood­land grouse. Håkan didn’t hes­i­tate to re­home her.

The re­port of the shot­gun has never wor­ried her and sim­ply ex­cites her to work harder. Ac­cord­ing to Håkan, it’s easy to tell when she gets hot and is about to flush a bird, as her tail wags fre­net­i­cally. Such was Sally’s pas­sion for hunting that he was keen to breed from her and keep a puppy from her lit­ter. She now works with her four-year-old daugh­ter Harpa, who has proved just as good a shoot­ing dog. Håkan de­scribes the pair of them as in­tense, brave and al­ways happy. Fit­tingly

it is a mat­ter of judge­ment where a picker-up should stand on a shoot

but the safety of all con­cerned

is paramount

As I had ex­pe­ri­enced shot whistling around my ears I de­cided to have a quiet word, as po­litely and as un­ob­tru­sively as I could. It was a mis­take. The Gun, al­ready some­what red-faced from the sloe gin, be­came even red­der with rage, swear­ing at me loudly and pro­fusely and gen­er­ally draw­ing at­ten­tion to him­self. Per­haps I should have spo­ken first to the shoot owner who was run­ning the day, but it was me who had been in the line of fire and, un­pleas­ant as it was, I felt en­tirely jus­ti­fied in say­ing some­thing. for a breed used for duck shoot­ing in its na­tive Italy, both Sally and Harpa love swim­ming, even when the wa­ter is cold.

Håkan sus­pects that he is the only hunter in Swe­den to use as gun­dogs. He rec­om­mends them, with the pro­viso that they are very en­er­getic and hard to keep still, like cock­ers. He adds that Ken­nel Rown­tree has a fine rep­u­ta­tion of breed­ing healthy dogs both in body and mind and that it is “im­por­tant to find good, sta­ble lines”.

Later in the day the shoot owner asked me to apol­o­gise to the er­rant Gun. That was some­thing I could not do, as I felt strongly that he should have been apol­o­gis­ing to me. It was when I was putting my dogs in the car to go home that an­other mem­ber of the syn­di­cate came over, shook me firmly by the hand and thanked for me for my work that day. He didn’t say so, but it was clear that the dan­ger­ous shoot­ing had wor­ried him too.

I wrote about this in­ci­dent in

13 years ago and in­vited read­ers to com­ment. I had a good re­sponse, with most say­ing that I had done the right thing. Oth­ers in­sisted that a picker-up should never speak to a Gun and that any com­mu­ni­ca­tion should be through the shoot owner or cap­tain, or the game­keeper. I re­solved never to pickup on that par­tic­u­lar shoot again.

Lastly, I hate the word pep­per­ing, which makes a se­ri­ous in­ci­dent sound cu­ri­ously in­nocu­ous. Hav­ing an ounce and an eighth of No.6 rat­tling around you, even at 100 yards, is not a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence. A shot­gun might not kill at 100 yards, but a stray pel­let can still blind. Per­haps safety glasses should be stan­dard wear for pick­ing-up?

as happy as sally: noth­ing to grouse about

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