Season’s end

It’s been my good fortune to pick up on a lovely shoot on the Welsh borders this season. The ground is hilly with steep sided valleys, making for high, fast birds and some challenging retrieves. The terrain can make for tricky driving conditions at times, and it was somewhat alarming when the vehicle I was following slid sideways down the hill before completing a graceful spin at the bottom.
I had three generations of Fletchingly girls out this season, with a total of four dogs. Shona is a seasoned campaigner and knows the job far better than me, so I have to be careful that she doesn’t become self-employed as the season progresses. Riska was recovering from a bad case of mastitis, so missed the first part of this year, but was very glad to be out once recovered. Moidart has really matured and come into her own, facing the thickest cover in her quest for a lost bird, and finding game where others have failed. Etive is not yet two years old, and this was her first season, so I have been taking it slowly with her, and she has been rock steady, marking well and staying calm. She pulled off the retrieve of the season when she was the only one to mark a bird falling behind trees a diagonally across a steep wooded valley, where she couldn’t take a direct line because of the nature of the terrain, working out how to get to the fall and returning with her prize.
I am so lucky to do what I love in a stunning part of the country, and the guns showed their appreciation for what I do by having a whip round at the end of the season.
I will now have a bit more time to train the latest recruit, Riska’s four month old daughter Kintra.

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