Travel across the Atlantic to discover the world of shooting and field trialing with Pointers and Setters in the United Kingdom
Kicking off our exploration of the methods of hunting with a dog, we start on the grouse moors of England and Scotland. We welcome our first guest to the show, David Hudson, who is an author, photographer, and pointing dog enthusiast with a rich history in the world of Pointers and Setters in the UK.
Before we can get too far, a language lesson is in order. What we call “hunting” in North America is typically referred to as “shooting” in the UK; there, hunting refers to pursuing game with hounds. David describes a typical shooting day afield with Pointers and Setters, which is significantly different from the driven shoots which are more popular in English field sports.
British field trials are designed to mimic a typical day afield with this style of shooting. The key difference is that all of the trialing dogs will be walking along with the group, leashed and absolutely silent. Total silence is required of the dogs who are awaiting their turn to run. Any slight noise will result in immediate disqualification. As a result, British dogs are expected to be very calm and quiet in an otherwise highly stimulating environment.
The field trial scene in the UK is very small as it has only a niche following among enthusiasts. It is not nearly as lucrative as retriever trials, so it means that the participants are primarily doing it for love of the dogs. This small community is tight-knit and is often found cheering each other on as the dogs compete.
We discuss the lack of crossover between British and Irish Pointers and Setters and the rest of continental Europe, which traces back to early rabies quarantine laws. Despite vaccines being prevalent now, the two worlds really haven’t exchanged much in the way of field trial participation or dog breeding stock. Of course, England had to look to other places to rebuild their dog populations after two world wars, but never really continued importing dogs for their breeding programs.
Finally, we talk about the traditions of British shooting culture and the unique language that goes along with it. Tune in to learn the unexpected definitions of “eye wipe” and “feathering,” among others.
As always, we thank you for listening and invite you to submit feedback or questions to us at HDC@northwoodscollective.com . We would love to feature your questions in an upcoming episode! Record a voice memo and email it to us to be featured on the show and to have your question answered.
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Jennifer Wapenski is the managing editor of Hunting Dog Confidential Magazine and co-host of the Hunting Dog Confidential podcast. She has a lifelong passion for the outdoors, dogs, and wildlife; as an adult, she discovered that upland bird and waterfowl hunting were natural extensions of these pursuits. Jennifer lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their two Deutsch Langhaars.