There are many things that I wish I had done with my young cockers whilst I was training them to work, and a Shoot over training day is most definitely at the top of the list.
Late November, and I joined Kirkbourne Spaniels at the beautiful Aske Estate in Richmond, North Yorkshire.
6 Guns teamed with 6 Dogs and Handlers, ranging from Novice dogs just starting their working careers to the more experienced dogs out for a "mid season refresher".
Darren Kirk has run a few of these days now and knows just what the dogs need. Working through some fairly heavy forestry and out through dense bracken, dogs and handlers needed to work together, nice heel work, steady to flushes and happy around gunshot. Every opportunity to tighten up the basics in a high excitement environment or to highlight areas that need work. Better to find out now, rather than your spaniel or labrador running straight through a drive and you not being asked back.
A stop for lunch of delicious home made stew and equally sumptuous lemon drizzle cake, allowing the dogs to take a small breather and everyone to regroup.
Dogs can be acclimatised to gunshot, cold game and many other shoot day experiences, in the safety of, all year round training days but, "The Bus" be it, beaters or guns, is an experience entirely of it's own.
Dogs are asked to enter a dark and cramped space, with lots of other dogs and lots of other legs, then bumped along and jostled about whilst expected to keep their paws on the floor and their manner in check. It really is a big ask and these kind of training days provide the perfect environment to introduce shy, nervous or young dogs to a big, new experience.
Some more crack shooting in the afternoon and after a steady 6 mile walk, we arrived back at the gun bus and headed back to the Shoot Room.
If you would like to attend a similar type of training day, Kirkbourne Spaniels offers various "out of season" days covering Shoot Day Etiquette, The Beating Line, Introduction to Cold Game and much more. These are followed by a small number of Shoot Over Days from November onwards.
Contact Darren Kirk - www.kirkbournespaniels.co.uk