Nick­Nic Ted

& Ted shows on a shoot and photo shoot that he has come of age and all the hard work has paid off, says Nick Ri­d­ley

Sporting Gun - - Gundogs Training - JAN­UARY 2019

It has been a long nine months dur­ing the close sea­son and Ted has un­der­gone a lot of train­ing. Dur­ing this time he has con­sis­tently shown me that he can cope with any sit­u­a­tion that I put in front of him and this past month he has been tested to the full.

Reg­u­lar read­ers of this col­umn will know that I bang on about ver­sa­tile gundogs. No doubt I some­times sound like a stuck record, but for the ma­jor­ity of us that is ex­actly what we need of our gundogs — ver­sa­til­ity. This goal can be achieved by train­ing but the dog also must have the DNA to be able to cope with the ever-chang­ing de­mands of its owner. The dog must also have been con­di­tioned dur­ing its for­ma­tive months to to­tally trust his owner and has to have the per­son­al­ity to be able to switch from task to task. All of that can only come from good breed­ing.

Pa­tience

I was still on a high from my re­cent rab­bit­shoot­ing trip and dur­ing the first week of Oc­to­ber I started my pick­ing-up du­ties on a lo­cal shoot. I tend not to use Ted too much for pick­ing-up as this job falls to my other two cock­ers, Harry and Fuss. I think chas­ing too many run­ners can spoil a dog for the other shoot­ing ac­tiv­i­ties that are re­quired of him, but I do like to give Ted at least one drive dur­ing the day. This par­tic­u­lar shoot can be quite busy and as I al­ways like to keep my dogs off the lead when pick­ing-up, they have to stay steady and con­cen­trate dur­ing a drive. Pa­tience and the abil­ity to sit still and quiet when pheas­ants are fly­ing over­head and drop­ping in front of them is a valu­able skill and one that I try to in­stil in all my dogs. Ted coped ad­mirably, though at one point he got so hot in the un­sea­son­ably warm weather he started to strug­gle with some of the cock birds. I wasn’t overly con­cerned as I could see some of the other dogs do­ing the same.

The next day was both a test for Ted and me. Sport­ing Gun’s Our Shoot is led by game­keeper and good friend Andy Gray and this sea­son I have been asked to help run the beat­ing line. It was de­cided that only a few dogs would be al­lowed in the beat­ing line: Andy’s spaniel Weasel, Ted and one other. The shoot ground is quite tight, there are plenty of birds about and a way­ward dog could ruin a shoot day. No pres­sure, then.

Ted has a good “off switch” and through­out his early train­ing I would switch tasks con­stantly; one minute he would be

“A dog must trust his han­dler and, equally, the han­dler must be able to trust his dog”

Back in his el­e­ment: rough or walkedup shoot­ing is Nick’s pas­sion in life

Af­ter the ex­hil­a­ra­tion of a shoot day, it was back to the day job. I had been com­mis­sioned by a dog food com­pany to take pic­tures for mar­ket­ing pur­poses and for its new web­site. They asked if I could bring along Ted to sup­ple­ment their own dogs. Let me just say that dur­ing the photo shoot I saw another side to Ted; one that I didn’t know ex­isted. Dur­ing the day he per­formed fault­lessly sit­ting next to strange dogs, sit­ting next to peo­ple he didn’t know, hold­ing mer­chan­dise and even sit­ting next to a bowl full of food with­out even look­ing at it. He made my job so much eas­ier and the client was over the moon with the fi­nal im­ages. I didn’t ex­pect him to cope with the sit­u­a­tion so well, but he is ob­vi­ously used to hav­ing his photo taken, even though that is nor­mally when he is on his own or with one of our other dogs. I was very proud of him and af­ter a month like that I think he re­ally has earned the ti­tle of “ver­sa­tile gun­dog”.

I read with in­ter­est a re­cent let­ter in Sport­ing Gun where Robert asked about clubs where he can shoot “Wild West” guns. You said that he needed to join a Sec­tion 7 club. While this is true, there are clubs — I be­long to two — where these pis­tols can be owned and fired. They are done so by us­ing black­pow­der as a pro­pel­lant that is loaded into each cylin­der be­fore seat­ing the ball/bul­let.

These firearms come un­der the head­ing of muz­zle-load­ers and can be kept at home in an ap­proved cab­i­net. I am sure that your reader could find one of these clubs as there are plenty of them around the coun­try.

Great mag­a­zine but can we have the oc­ca­sional ar­ti­cle about side-by-sides, please? All but two on my game shoot use these type of guns. Robert Mor­gan – Ab­so­lutely! With the laws in this coun­try, black­pow­der and muz­zle-load­ing of­fer an ex­cit­ing av­enue for peo­ple to in­dulge their love of shoot­ing. While it does have its draw­backs, mostly in main­tain­ing the guns in good con­di­tion, black­pow­der re­volvers of­fer shoot­ers an op­por­tu­nity to fire “pis­tol-sized” hand­guns with far less re­stric­tive con­straints than their 7/3 car­tridge coun­ter­parts. Be­cause of this far more clubs now cater for this branch of the sport. Thank you for bring­ing this to the at­ten­tion of the read­er­ship. Game shoot­ers may also like to take note that there is a grow­ing trend at the mo­ment for many shoots to hold black pow­der muz­zle-load­ing only days, and trust me when I say that if you have never shot pheas­ants with a muz­zle-loader, you have missed out on a spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence.

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