Q: I have been given a two-year-old Jack Russell terrier that belonged to an elderly relative. Since I have had him I have noticed that he loves retrieving toys and balls but does not shake or grip the retrieves and gives them to me quite easily. Would it be possible to use him for roughshooting? Or are terriers no good for gameshooting?

A: I grew up with cross-bred terriers which, being longer on the leg than the Jack Russell terrier, were more like hunt terriers. They were trained to work as gundogs by my father as well as working with the ferrets for rabbits. They would go to ground and bring out rabbits, always dead but still good enough for the pot. They would also hunt up wild pheasants in sugar beet and would retrieve them with no harm. If my father shot a hare, it was coming back to hand no matter how far it had run after the shot. There was always a chase if the shot missed its target but after a short distance they would turn off unwounded game and come back ready for more action.

Jack Russell terrier working well in the beating line

They were never worked on formal shoots but I have seen other Jack Russell terriers working well in the beating line to flush birds, though some have a failing for catching and killing game. That may be down to a lack of training.

Get your Jack Russel retrieving dummies covered in a rabbit skin at home first and perhaps the same with pheasant wings so that you can see what his reaction is going to be, then progress to cold fresh game. If all goes well, you may just have found a great shooting companion for the future.

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