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Problems retrieving when woodcock shooting

She flushed the birds out of cover well, but when the first opportunity came for a retrieve I was so disappointed to see her hunting around it without picking-up. This slightly took the edge of my day’s woodcock shooting. Is this common and what can I do to overcome the problem?

Mark Whitehouse says: When woodcock shooting, the species are very well camouflaged and carry little scent at the best of times. They are part of the wader family and are usually found in marshy and wet woodland areas.

Spaniels almost exclusively rely on the woodcock’s scent during the pick-up and retrieve process of woodcock shooting. Therefore, if your young spaniel has not been introduced to the smell of woodcock then she will carry on hunting over and around it until she connects with a scent that she does recognise. You must introduce young spaniels to new and different scents such as woodcock and snipe so they can recognise them when you are out woodcock shooting.

At the end of the shooting season you should have your freezer stocked with as many different types of game bird as possible. This season I have saved grouse, woodcock, snipe, partridge and pheasant. All these will come into play in the spring when I start cold-game training with my young spaniels. This exercise will introduce them to new scents and give them a head start the next time you are woodcock shooting – or anything else for that matter!

For more gundog training advice click here