Beaters are a key part of a shoot and need to follow some important guidelines
Correct beating on a shoot is crucial to the success of the day. The beaters are there to flush out the birds into the path of the Guns. Sounds simple? Far from it.
There’s a lot more involved in than that. A beater is an important part of the whole team and part of the management of the whole day. The beating line needs to move at the right pace, allowing the Guns time to get ready.
And then there are the dogs in the beating line.
To provide a useful checklist we asked some seasoned shoot managers for some tips and advice. Essential reading for those beaters out for a first season or with only a few previous outings under their belts.
Beating on a shoot day
- Follow the directions you are given and don’t decide that you know better than the gamekeeper or shoot captain. If they ask you to do something new on a shoot you should never reply: “The last keeper here never did it like this” or “we don’t normally do it that way.” The gamekeeper is the captain and beaters need to follow directions if they are to play a useful role. Otherwise you may as well go home.
- Listen carefully and obey instructions. Most keepers use radio-men in the line to pass on guidance which should be followed precisely. Sometimes the information will need passing quickly, clearly and quietly from one beater to the next.
- Some beaters seem to find walking in a straight line difficult. It isn’t. Just keeping looking to left and then right and you’ll be there…
- When it comes to high maize crops ask your next-door neighbours where they are and adjust your position accordingly.
- Use your stick to beat a path through brambles – don’t walk around them.
- Do whatever job you are asked. Which might be going on stop, carrying game back to the game cart or standing with a novice Gun, if you’re experienced. A good beater will be flexible.
- Be prepared to be asked to hang game in the larder or open and close farm gates.
- Be on time. Beaters need to be punctual, arriving at the allotted hour and be ready to go as soon as they reach the meeting place.
- Be reliable. If you’re not, you won’t be asked again.
- Let the gamekeeper know weeks in advance which shoots you can make, and those you can’t. This gives him (or her) time to find a replacement.
- Even if you think your gundog is beautifully trained don’t just turn up with him without asking. If a keeper stipulates ‘no dogs in the beating line’ it’s generally because he doesn’t require dogs for the drives he is doing. A badly trained dog can easily ruin a drive (or entire day for that matter!) but once a keeper can see that you understand how his day works he may be more willing to let you bring your dog at a future date.
- Do not assume your dog will be welcome on every shoot!
- Your goal should be to prove that you are a valuable, reliable member of the beating team.
- Wear the right clothes for the day’s weather. Check the forecast. Layers are good. You can always take a layer off if you’re too warm.
- The shoot may not provide lunch so check in advance and bring a packed lunch if necessary.
- Remember that the keeper will have eyes in the back of his head and sees everything!