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…

picking-up on a shoot

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…

guide to picking-up

A beginner’s guide to picking-up

We walk you through what to expect on your first time picking-up, including when to know if your dog is ready, what to do on the first drive and how to behave during the day

keeper's day

Keeping everyone happy on keeper’s day

As the season draws to a close, talk among the beaters and pickers-up is of the end-of-season keeper’s days. For many gamekeepers, it is the only day of the year they get to shoot pheasants. Indeed, for some of them it might be the only day of the year they get to go shooting at all. There…

Beaters out in the field

Letter from a fed-up beater

The driven shoot day is a team effort and by no means the least important team consists of the beaters. These men, women, boys and girls turn out in all weathers mostly not for the money but because they enjoy what they do. Beaters not given due consideration However on some shoots it would…

10 things that can make or break a shoot day

10 things that can make or break a shoot day

Makes 1. The Weather: Many Guns prefer a lightly overcast day, a favourable wind with a decent nip in the air. Persistent driving rain all day is enough to break the spirit of the keenest gun. 2. The host: They set the mood for the entire day. A bad host…

Picker up with gun dogs

What’s a gundog worth?

Last week I started my 2016/17 picking-up season at my regular shoot, near Henley-On-Thames in Oxfordshire. During lunch there was the normal early season grumblings about how much people get paid and how such and such a shoot has increased its daily rate. I never get involved in these conversations, let’s be honest in “normal” life if someone offered…

woman with pheasant on shoot

Beaters’ pay and the living wage

Most of us go beating or picking-up for fun and don’t think of it as a form of employment with formal beaters’ pay. There are few exceptions to this principle, such as in areas where shoots form an important part of the seasonal employment pattern – grouse moors in summer and shoots in tourist areas in the winter,…

springer spaniel dream gundog

The dream gundog team

I’ll tell you what I want to see behind me when I am standing in a line of guns outside a likely looking covert. I want to see a bunch of pickers-up with sundry teams of likely looking dogs. I want them a good gunshot distance and where I can see them. I don’t want to…


Dogs in the beating line need to be the best of all

If you were to look at the hierarchy of gundogs in the shooting field, you would more than likely consider dogs that work in the beating line at the bottom of list. But, in fact, they probably need to be the best trained of all the gun dogs in the field and they certainly work the hardest. All…

working spaniel

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

The aim of a good picker-up is not just to come back to the gamecart laden with dead birds, but also to find those illusive runners and pricked birds. A good picker-up and their team of dogs will make every effort to sweep an area, not leaving any injured or dead birds behind. It takes dedication and determination, as…

stopping a gundog running-in

I want my dog to have his day as a picker-up

A: There is no set procedure for Guns who take their own dogs, and each shoot will have its own policy regarding the collection of dead and wounded game both during and after drives are complete. Therefore it is best to find out from the shoot captain what the expectations for that particular shoot usually are. This certainly applies…


A September challenge for the picker-up

It’s an indication of my age that the first partridge I shot was a wild grey, walked up in barley stubble on the North Downs. Today, the M20 motorway cuts through the site where I shot my bird, and I’ve no idea whether any wild grey partridges can still be found in the area, close to Brands Hatch…

cocker spaniels on grouse moor

Advice for beating with cocker spaniels on grouse moors

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…

new dog to picking-up team

How to introduce a new dog to your picking-up team

At this time of the year many of us are looking to either buy a new pup or a slightly older youngster. I tend to look two years ahead as this is roughly the time that it takes for most trainers to get a dog into the shooting field. One…

Queen Elizabeth in the field

A Royal picker-up

Gundogs have been a part of the Queen’s life from infancy. Her grandfather, George V, inherited his own father’s taste for gameshooting, as well as a more hands- on approach to the care and training of working dogs than Edward VII had ever shown. In the year before Elizabeth’s birth,…

Picking-up etiquette on driven shoots

Picking-up etiquette during a driven game shoot

I have read with great interest in this magazine about how pickers-up are expected to behave when picking-up by guns and more especially, guns with dogs. I have picked-up on quite a few well-known West Country shoots, where I have also loaded. It seems to me there are many types…

Beaters and pickers-up

Guns, beaters and pickers-up. All on an equal footing

Whether we like it or not, most shoots have a distinct social order. It’s Guns first, then loaders (if there are any), pickers-up and finally beaters. It is a natural order, because (if you will excuse the pun) it’s usually the Guns that call the shots. However, it is always refreshing to…