For me, the presence of my dog greatly enhances the occasion, even when he’s doing nothing.
It’s nice to have a stalking companion who thinks I’m wonderful – or maybe he’s just too polite to say what a mess I’m making and how many deer have been spooked because I didn’t see them before they saw me.
How often have I needed Jack’s expertise in an average season?
He helps every time in some way, but for the purpose of tracking a wounded deer or finding a dead one, only once or twice in the seven years of his life.
The level of training is entirely up to you but for my part, as long as the dog will walk silently at heel, wiggle his nose and prick his ears if he scents deer, lie quietly below a high seat and provide a comforting source of heat in a low one, that is all I ask.
Anything else he might do, such as following a blood trail – which any dog can do with its eyes closed once he’s realised that the man he thought was God hasn’t a clue about scent – is so rarely needed that I have not bothered to train Jack specifically for it.
He’s just picked stuff up as we went along.
My namesake, Guy Wallace, wrote a most excellent little book called Training Dogs for Woodland Deer Stalking which he published privately in 1994.
(My copy is inscribed, “To G Wallace with best wishes from G Wallace!”)
I don’t know if it is still available but a request to Paul Morgan at Cochy Bonddhu Books might turn one up.
Failing that, Guy wrote a larger tome entitled, The Versatile Gundog – Training HPRs for Gun, Rifle and Hawk, which has an excellent section on deer. It is published by the Sportsman’s Press ISBN 0 948253 75 4.