A Shooting Times reader didn't know what to expect when he took his two young cocker spaniels on the grouse moor beating for the first time.
Q: I have been invited to take my two young cockers beating on a grouse moor for a couple of days in the north of England. I do not know what to expect as I live in Surrey. My dogs have had one season beating and shooting on pheasant in the south and have been out rabbiting on the moors, but that is all.
Gundog expert and A-panel spaniel judge, Paul Rawlings, had this advice taking cocker spaniels on a grouse moor: I had a similar opportunity when I first began trialling spaniels and spent two days in North Yorkshire on remote moorland. The first day was brilliant sunshine, the second was cold and windy with some heavy rain. I had never experienced a grouse shoot before and my young dogs and I were thoroughly exhausted by the end of day two. We enjoyed the experience, as you probably will, but be prepared for some hard work.
It is not the same as beating through woodland or gamecrops and you will walk for miles over difficult terrain, with the heather making walking hazardous at times. It will take your dogs a while to get used to this type of cover, but if they have good hearts I am sure they will do a useful job. At the end of each drive I was asked to pick-up around the butts, and I can assure you that cockers are great at locating the shot grouse in the thickest of heather.
Make sure you take plenty of water and energy snacks, for you and your dogs, wear really good, sturdy walking boots and, even if the sun is shining, a waterproof in the gamebag is sensible. Be prepared to walk several miles. On the day that I finished we had to walk about four miles off the moor to get back to our vehicles. I am sure you will enjoy the experience; I know I did.