A Trialling Week

Day 1 – 4th Nov – First port of call was the GSPC All Aged FT at Lauder.
There was plenty ground for the dogs and we would just have to wait and see what the game situation would be. We were well into the card and dogs were finding game, but regardless of the dog work, if the guns don’t get the birds on the ground there is nothing more that can be done.

We were on the starting blocks and watching the dog before us when it went on point, totally out of character the dog moved in and flushed the bird early and proceeded to pursue, only one or two paces but the handler didn’t hesitate in getting it back on the lead. The bird that was flushed was shot and had come down.

We were called forward and the location of the bird indicated, Ches was sent out in the direction indicated but soon veered on to the area where the bird was flushed…was he focused on here due to witnessing the earlier activity? Or was it residual scent that lured him there? I’ll never know which, but he wasn’t too keen to be directed to the drop zone, he eventually obeyed my commands and headed towards the bird, but his interest and focus remained with the flush area.
Ches recalled and back on the lead, the next dog up retrieved the bird and we were out….our shortest and poorest run in a field trial ever, and just when I thought we were getting to grips with it all.

Day 2 – 5th Nov – Our second trial was the GSPC Novice FT at Ford.
Ford Moss was the elected ground to run the trial, the terrain was such that at times even the dogs struggled to run and the handlers struggled to walk, in places each and every footstep failed to secure a sound footing, the guns and handlers struggled to keep their balance as walking and watching the dogs, many fell over in the process.

A few dogs found birds but most had blank runs, our run was over difficult terrain generally open with one coppice giving us a hope of a sure find, it wasn’t to be and our time was up, just hoped we’d get a better opportunity on the 2nd run later.
The Moss produced a few points but no birds were shot, so the trial was relocated to another area.

The second runs started but were merely minutes long and left the handlers guessing whether they had been eliminated or what? On completion of the 2nd runs the judges announced that due to shortage of birds, ground and daylight they were going to continue running with only two dogs which they viewed as exceptional within the field. We weren’t one of the two dogs so our day was over.

Day 3 – 6th Nov – Our third trial was the WCGB All Aged FT at Langholm.
The ground here was a steep embankment generally covered in dead bracken which would provide good cover for the game.

It was a frosty morning with a good white crust on the ground, we were 2nd to run and in an area well shaded from the low sun, regardless Ches secured a solid point, guns moved in and all was in place, bird flushed and bum on the deck…4 shot’s later we were still watching the pheasant flying away. Ches hunted on but found nothing else, so we would have to hope all went well on our 2nd run.

Our second run was on a section which neared a conifer plantation, sure to be a few birds ahead!! Ches worked through the area and soon went on point, guns in and Ches in to flush, two birds got up and negotiated the barrage of shot’s…none down so we hunted on, a few more were produced but likewise not shot. The judges said they would see us again when they had a bird on the ground for us to retrieve.

Our time came for a 3rd run, so Ches had to get through another hunt, point and flush to present a bird for the guns to shoot, thankfully it was a quick and complete process on this occasion and we were destined for the final task – The water.
Our day concluded with being one off three dogs receiving awards, ours was 3rd place and I was delighted.

Day 4 – The Sabbath!!
But not wasted, took Ches to our moor for a good run.

Day 5 – 8th Nov – NOSGA Open FT at Altyre, Forres.
We were due to run but I withdrew.

The North Of Scotland Gundog Association has been in existence for some years, but mainly the Spaniel and Retriever sections have been active, the HPR section inactive for more than a decade. Following serious effort the HPR section was revived and Field Trials scheduled, this being the first.

It was unknown how many Open qualified dogs and handlers would travel to the North for this trial, so not wanting the other sub groups to think the HPR’s failed to fill their card I submitted an entry. If enough Open qualified dogs entered I wouldn’t get a run, if they didn’t I’d help fill the card…. The draw was made and we would be running number 12……

At Langholm I realised there had been a late entry for the Open FT and the dog was qualified for Open, so I elected to withdraw and allow the qualified dog to run.

We attended the trial and acted as Red Flag and would also be the picking up dog if called upon.

Day 6 – 9th Nov – NOSGA Novice FT at Castle Grant, Grantown on Spey.
Our last trial of the block and hopefully we’d get it all together today.

We were last to run and most dogs before us had long runs with no full HPR’s, some blank runs, some points but birds not shot, etc…

Our run came and off Ches went, a coppice at the start followed by wide open ground. Ches worked the coppice and headed to the open ground, but kept going back to the coppice for a further check. We were only minutes into our run through the open ground when he went on point, guns were positioned and Ches sent for the flush, he moved in but failed to produce anything. He had that puzzled look on his face as he was sure there was something there.

He retreated and took the wind again, on point again and in for the flush, 3rd time lucky and he flushed a tight sitting hen pheasant, he dropped to the flush which pleased me, the guns fired and missed!! But Ches must have been watching too much Commonwealth games, he was up and off after the bird……..I got on the whistle and stopped him but the damage was done, instant recall and back on the lead..

When’s the next one??? Soon I hope.

Phil Ross


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