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Just been asked in the last hour, very excited and nervous at the same time.... bring it on!
 

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I had a FABULOUS day!

I thought it would be best to run through the day in chronological order...

I arrived at the meeting point (village hall) at approx 8.55. The lady who I was supposed to meet (who will be known a J) wasn't there as was running late. The 'keeper approached and explained how it works, asked about my dog etc.

We boarded the wagon at approx 9.30 and headed off to the first drive. Pippa refused to climb the steps so I have her a hand. Much to my amazement, Pippa near enough ignored the other dogs on the wagon... we arrived at the first drive and the 'keeper told me what I should start. I entered the patch and started pushing through, I put Pippa in a sit stay as I was a little unsure of where to go and looked for the best route. Two deer were flushed and Pippa stayed exactly where I had put her ( ) I was just about to leave the way I entered the area to find someone to direct me, I heard 'DAN' 'DAN' from the 'keeper. He told me where I needed to go and soon found the line. We pushed on, and the spaniels did their job, flushing many birds for the guns. Pippa walked lovely on-lead heel throughout. I think this was one of my favourite drives - little brambles! The drive finished and we boarded the wagon again - this time, Pippa climbed the steps of the wagon effortlessly.

We headed off to the second drive of the day, this drive was probably my second favourite, again, little brambles!! I had a few compliments about Pippa which was nice. Some pheasants were flushed, there were some great shots by the guns. We pushed through and we had to beat through some tall vegetation, almost grass like. It was great, as although it was tall, you could see over and you got an excellent view of the guns and their shots. We didn't flush any from this section, but the people covering the wood managed to. The drive ended and J turned up. We boarded the beating wagon again.

We headed off to the third drive, this was probably the longest drive. This drive started off at the bottom of a field. We flushed a hare. We then had to wait before entering the wood. We swept up and we managed to flush about 7 cock pheasants in quick succession. We flushed a fair few of this drive, one of the guns was just behind me so I got to see a good few shots, although many were flying towards the other set of guns. Then it was time for lunch, so we headed to the beaters' wagon.

We got off the wagon for lunch, there were hotdogs and soup served by the local farm shop. I had brought my own lunch so passed on the hotdogs and soup, although I did have some of the cake! - next time I'll know that lunch is served! Towards the end of the lunch time, the 'Keeper handed me £20! I wasn't expecting to be paid!

After lunch, we once again boarded the wagon and set off for the fourth drive of the day. We spread out and there was a call over the radio to say that there was a Roe Deer stuck in the fence, just as the 'Keeper was making his way up, the Deer freed itself so we could begin the drive. The drive began, pretty ordinary, although it was very bramble heavy compared to the previous drives. Pippa is no spaniel and didn't seem to like these at all, at one point she full on refused to move, I don't blame her! The drive ended, although this time there was no need to board a wagon.

The final drive was literally carrying on from the previous drive, although the guns had to be moved and beaters spread out so we were coming at an angle. We saw 3 Roe Deer. We had to wait a good 30 minutes for the drive to start, all throughout this time, Pippa just lied down and relaxed, whilst I chatted to a few fellow beaters. The drive started, it was pretty ordinary, thankfully it wasn't full of brambles, but it did involve climbing/jumping over several fallen trees. A little cocker went off a bit and was down a hole, the owner thought it was up to no good so was telling him to get out, but he came out with a runner that had been shot in the previous drive. The heavens opened. J suggested that as it was nearing the end of the final drive, I let Pippa off and see how she goes. I let her off and she walked to heel until the end of the drive. There were some really good shots by the guns. I did grab onto her when a hare raced past, as that would have been too much temptation!

The drive ended, and we climbed back aboard the wagon for the short trip back to the village hall. We were all offered a brace each, but I didn't as I wouldn't know what to do with it and I would rather someone else put it to good use! I thanked the 'Keeper and J for their guidance and for being to nice and welcoming. Apparently the 'Keeper is often short of beaters to it looks like I'll be fine to come a long as much as possible next season. Unfortunately, the only day they have left is on a weekday so cannot make it.

I did take a good photo (for me anyway), I can't upload it as I haven't got a lead to connect it to my phone. It's just Pippa sat before a drive. I'll upload it asap.

I can't lie... I kinda want a Spaniel now... :p
Sorry for the essay!!!
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Sounds like you had a good introduction. You're right, Labs are not spanners but with a bit of hard work you can get them working well in cover. You could always take a brace and do some cold game training, getting ready for when you go picking up ;)
 

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We were all offered a brace each, but I didn't as I wouldn't know what to do with it
There are some good recipes for Pheasant. You can pluck or skin, (although skinning is far quicker) and prepare as with Chicken by removing the head, lower legs and internal organs then roast with a slice of bacon across the breast to keep it moist. Serve with roast potatoes and veg.

My favourite is to simply remove the breasts, season with garlic salt, sage and thyme and fry. Serve with salad.

Regards, John
 

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stragster said:
Sounds like you had a good introduction. You're right, Labs are not spanners but with a bit of hard work you can get them working well in cover. You could always take a brace and do some cold game training, getting ready for when you go picking up ;)
I'm going to take her to the woods and get her more confident in cover.
 
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