It is now 27th August and the grouse season started on a rainy “Glorious 12th August”. It has been very wet and hard work and my three German Wirehaired Pointers are in heaven, but the pace is slowing due to the many days running on the hill. I have now hunted them for seven days this season and although I can swap them round, they are getting tired. We now have two days off while one of them will be having three days off, so it will all help. They are spending their well deserved days off lying on their garden patio on their dog beds.
It is no wonder because we often set off at 7am, arriving at the grounds, meeting the guests at about 9. The dogs are very comfortable in the back of my truck on their dog beds, which is keeping them warm and fantastically well cushioned from the sometimes bumpy ride. But the adrenaline is probably slightly up all the way and every time we stop at a junction or for red light, they get up and wonder if this is it, are we there yet? As we meet the guests, the host and the game keeper, everyone is making a fuss of the dogs (and often also a fuss over the beautiful and hygienic dog beds in the back). This is all very exciting. We then set off driving to the moor, which often includes a long stretch along dirt roads throwing the dogs around in the back as much as my lunch is getting chucked about in the front. The windows are slightly open in the dog compartment and the beautiful and hugely exciting wafts of heather smell and bird smell starts to seriously excite the dogs. Definitely the adrenalin is up by now and as we arrive at the top of the moor and everyone is faffing around getting themselves organised with boots, gaiters, walking sticks, guns, game bags and cartridges, the dogs are frankly going out of their minds with anticipation.
Only now does the physical work start. Up till now I would say that the dogs are getting exhausted even travelling on their Tuffies dog beds out of pure mental excitement. As they start hunting, the physical demand on them starts in earnest. It is quite amazing to see the dogs running at a fast pace across the heather maintaining their mental alertness for the slightest scent of grouse. I let each dog run for about 10-20 minutes before I swap them over to allow them to get a rest. It very much depends on what they seem to look like. If it is a hot day they need to rest more often and it’s important that they can get to water. If it is a dry moor, I carry water with me to keep them topped up.
After the morning is over, they have been running for about three hours and they are very grateful if we stop for lunch near the vehicles so that they can go in the back and get a good rest on their dog beds while we fuel up with sandwiches.
Having finished lunch, we are off again and the dogs will work again for another two or three hours. As I normally only bring two dogs, it is a LOT of work. No wonder they are pretty tired on the way home, sleeping soundly on their waterproof dog beds.