Beaters and pickers-up

A beating team

Beating and picking-up at a shoot has some important rules.  If it’s your first time out in the field, then your fellow beaters and pickers-up will show you the ropes and teach you the essential safety rules.

Taking on the role of picker-up on any shoot is very important and carries a lot of responsibility.

  • Don’t bring along novice or partly-trained gundogs
  • Take the right kit with you; a priest, a brace of game carriers, your whistles for controlling the gun dog and fresh water for your canine team.
  • Position yourself well back and away from the line of guns in a safe place that allows you to see as much as possible.
  • The picking-up of injured birds and dispatching of them as quickly and humanely as possible always takes priority over dead birds.

Some key reads about beating and picking-up

1. 16 things only beaters know (and Guns should)

Beating is tough work and challenging to get right. But sometimes beaters aren’t always given the applause and credit they deserve.

2. Why beaters’ dogs have it best

Beaters’s dogs are vital to the success of a shoot day and are often the unsung heroes of the field. But they also have the most fun …

3. The best way to dispatch pricked birds

A vital aspect of when beating and picking up is knowing how to humanely despatch a wounded bird or animal. The prime objective of shooting live quarry is to ensure, wherever possible, an instant death for the creature we are pursuing.

pheasants on game cart

The game cart staff are part of the picking-up team

4. A beginner’s guide to picking-up 

Have you received an invitation to pick up on a driven shoot? New to it? Here’s what to expect.

Queen Elizabeth in the field

“The lady in a headscarf”: the Queen at the Cocker Spaniel Championships in 2008

5. A Royal picker-up

Apparently, as a young princess, our Queen used to hijack the family corgis to track down shot birds at Balmoral.

beater in field

Beaters cover huge distances over rough terrain to drive birds over the Guns – without them, the shoot wouldn’t happen

6. The ideal beater

A gamekeeper gives his view of what constitutes the perfect beater on a shoot. (Not worrying about the keeper appearing gruff is one advantage.)

Beating and picking-up team

Beaters’ day at the Longford estate, Salisbury, Wiltshire

7. Get your gundog ready for the beating line

There are plenty of traps for the young and experienced dog on the beating line. Here’s how to avoid them and get out of them.

rules for picking-up

8. There’s more to picking-up than meets the eye

Very few gundog owners are fully aware of the responsibility that comes with working with your dog as a picker-up in, what is, a vital part of a game shoot.

picking-up on a shoot

When picking up it is always best to stand well behind the Guns

beating on a shoot and picking up team

10 must-reads about beating and picking-up on a shoot

If it’s your first time out, then your fellow beaters and pickers-up will show you the ropes. In the meantime, here’s a selection of articles you’ll find useful to browse through … 1. 16 things only beaters know (and Guns should) Beating is tough work and challenging to get right.…

The bigger the shoot, the less respect?

Picking-up is about one thing — finding shot birds. The joy I get from finding one bird that would otherwise be lost gives me more pleasure than shooting even the highest of pheasants. Over the years I have managed to climb the picking-up tree, from a small syndicate with one…

Beaters, loaders and pickers-up

Do beaters, loaders and pickers-up get paid fairly?

It is a pretty fair assumption that there are few people for whom beating, picking-up or even loading is their main source of income throughout the season. Though the money is welcome, it by no means replaces a regular salary 
— particularly since earnings on 
a shoot now have to…

Ampleforth College Shoot

Ampleforth College Shoot 2018

In the past five years the school shoot has grown in both extent and professionalism. Student-led and supported, with guidance by staff and parents, Ampleforth is putting down around 800 pheasants and partridges each year in three pens across the valley, shooting a good 10 days in the season.  Eight…

Beaters' day shooting

Beaters’ day shooting. Pegs or walk one, stand one?

Put them out on pegs, says Ben Samuelson Beaters’ day shooting is an absolutely sacred part of the shooting season, and is one of its great joys. Roles are reversed and one half of the shooting community gets a well-deserved treat at the end of the season. Patience is rewarded,…

Dogs at work in the beating line

After an enjoyable season in the beating line with his spaniel, David Tomlinson asks what traits a dog needs to have to be an asset to this essential team

pheasants on game cart

What you need to know about picking-up on a shoot

In my view, game shooting is only defensible if every bird that is shot ends up on the table. Without a decent picking-up team the chance of that happening is slight. What makes a good picking-up team and how do you get to be part of one? You need a…

Border terrier

What’s the best beating dog?

Beating dogs are the forgotten heroes of the shooting world. They far outnumber all the picking-up dogs and peg dogs put together, but they are largely ignored and seldom celebrated for the vital work they do. There are no competitions 
for beating dogs, so no equivalent 
of a field trial…

beaters and pickers up

Despatching pricked birds – the best way to do it

A vital aspect of shooting is the humane despatching of a wounded bird or animal, be it a pheasant, duck, pigeon, rabbit or squirrel. The prime objective of shooting live quarry is to ensure, wherever possible, an instant death for the creature we are pursuing. We are, hopefully, taught how…

rules for picking-up

The golden rules for picking-up on a shoot

If you have picking-up dogs, 
then it is always good to get them 
out working, especially if you haven’t been out on the grouse moors or 
on partridge days. Taking them on 
a small boundary day is ideal if you 
get the chance, as it will remind them what they…

working spaniels

What you need to know BEFORE taking your dog onto the shooting field

The picker-up enjoys the pleasure of working their own dogs in the knowledge that they are performing an essential role in the day’s sport. Collecting shot birds is vital; even more so is making sure that any wounded birds are immediately gathered and swiftly despatched. Mutual respect The relationship between…