Writer, zoologist and gundog enthusiast, Pippa blogs on life in the countryside

Life goes on!


Time for some training then!

It’s a strange feeling,  for the game shooting season to be done and dusted for another year.  But as one avenue of pleasure closes,  another beckons. 

People often ask me what we do with our working dogs for the rest of the year,  and  I have chatted with shooting enthusiasts in the USA who find it unusual or interesting that for us,  the end of game shooting,  is by no means the end of shooting for the year. 

During February we concentrate on some different quarry species.  

Rabbits and Roe

Roe are abundant on the farm at the moment and  so for the next few weeks we will be stocking the freezer with delicious venison.    

We will also be shooting over ferrets for a few more weeks  and I hope to put up a post about that soon.    Ferreting with working ferrets is a great way to reduce rabbit populations  during the winter months and to provide meat for our dogs.  

Shooting rabbits as they bolt from their burrows is also great sport and watching it is very good steadiness training for our young dogs.

Training the dogs

The spaniels tend to be a bit raggedy around the edges by the end of the shooting season,  too much ‘sweeping up’  interferes with a nice tidy quartering pattern,  and behaviour does tend to deteriorate a little over the course of the season simply because you are working the dogs far more than training them.

So in February and March before the undergrowth starts to go crazy, we get to work on sharpening up stop whistles and tightening up quartering patterns.  


Perhaps one of the most delicious  species on the farm is the humble, plump and prolific woodpigeon.  We work hard on keeping woodpigeon numbers under control as they do so much crop damage,  but the benefits of the meat cannot be overstated.  If you have never tasted woodpigeon I do recommend it.  It is a rich, dark,  tasty meat, almost ‘beefy’ in texture and flavour.   We will almost certainly be shooting plenty of these this year.

Some time to relax?

Whilst I am truly sad to say goodbye to another gameshooting season it has been hard work for us providing the birds, arranging the days, and making sure everything runs smoothly.   And I am looking forward to a more relaxing time,  just as soon as I have handed in this book.

Himself who has headed out to sea today to try and catch a nice big cod,  had made me promise not to start any more projects for a few months.  So  I will have to try and be good.       We’ll see how that pans out….

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