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

gundog ready for the beating line

Get your gundog ready for the beating line

People often ask: “How old should my dog be before taking it into the beating line?” The truth is there is no straight answer — so much depends on the dog and the trainer’s ability. But the question every trainer should be asking themselves is: “Is my gundog ready for…

beater in field

16 things only beaters know (and Guns should)

It’s sad to know that many shooting beaters feel treated like second-class citizens by the Guns on a shoot. (Which suggests that some of the Guns haven’t ever been beating themselves or understand just what is involved in the work.) A few years ago Shooting Gazette published an article: “Letter from…

Beating line

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

Some beaters, loaders and pickers-up rely on shoots as their main source of income throughout the season. However this money cannot replace a regular salary (and it’s been hit hard by Covid restrictions) and in any case shoot earnings have to be declared and are taxed accordingly. Few complaints Although…

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…

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…