PICKING UP (QUARRY RETRIEVAL)
“It is very unlikely that the opposition to shooting sports will ever be completely overcome, but there is no need to be daunted by it, provided we continue to concentrate on the education and training of newcomers, and on the voluntary observance by all members of the codes of practice.”
HRH The Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh
The BASC Ideal
That all who shoot conduct themselves according to the highest standards of safety, sportsmanship and courtesy, with full respect for their quarry and a practical interest in wildlife conservation and the well-being of the countryside.
This code of practice aims to provide guidance to newcomers and act as a reminder to those with experience who enjoy using their own dogs as part of a team of pickers-up in the shooting field.
A good team of pickers-up is essential to the enjoyment and success of a day’s shooting. It is also essential to avoid suffering by wounded birds and the wastage of game. Everyone who shoots
live quarry should ensure that there is always a dog available for retrieving.
Organisers of shoots, too, must also ensure that adequate provision is made for retrieving shot game. Ideally one picker-up should be available for each Gun.
Traditionally, picking-up is carried out immediately after each drive. However when a bird is wounded it should be picked up immediately to ensure there is no suffering, provided it is safe to do so.
Respect for the quarry is fundamental. Remember also that game is food. All freshly killed game should be handled in a way that ensures the meat is subsequently fit to eat.
Dogs and the law
- All dogs must, in public places, wear a collar marked with the owner’s name and address – except when being used for sporting purposes, which include picking up.
- All dogs must be kept on a lead when on a designated road – except when being used for sporting purposes.
- Trespass is committed if dogs are sent to retrieve shot game from land without the prior consent of the landowner or occupier.
- Owners commit an offence if their dogs worry (frighten, kill or injure) livestock.
- Be proficient in the humane dispatch of wounded game. The use of a priest or commercially manufactured game dispatcher is recommended.
- Find out before the shoot how it will be organised and what your responsibilities are. If in doubt, ask!
- Arrive on time and report to the shoot organiser or the head of the picking-up team. You should then be briefed on the order in which the drives will be shot and what is required of you and your dog(s) throughout the day.
- Never take a young or inexperienced dog to a shoot without permission.
- Never take a bitch that is in season (oestrus - period of sexual receptivity) to a shoot.
- Exercise your dog(s) before setting out and, if appropriate, provide a light feed.
Always treat quarry with respect
Dogs used for picking up should:
- Be trained, under control and responsive to your instructions at all times.
- Deliver game readily to hand and without damage. A hard-mouthed dog (one which damages game) should not be working in the shooting field.
- Be trained to mark (note the position of) falling birds and be capable of being directed to game which they did not see fall.
- Be able to retrieve shot game quickly, or as soon as practicable, from all kinds of cover and, where necessary, from water.
- Be steady to (not chase) fur, feather, deer or livestock.
- Remain silent (not whine or bark) while waiting to retrieve.
Always treat quarry with respect
Picking up on pheasant shoots
- Remember: safety first
- Make sure Guns are aware of your position. Unless instructed differently, pickers-up usually stand well back from (behind) the line of Guns (you may be required to pick up for more than one Gun). Always choose a position which is safe and from where you can mark falling birds.
- Always mark shot game carefully. Decide how you will accurately remember the number of birds that are to be picked up and their last seen position.
- Pay particular attention to follow the flightline of birds which may have been hit but carry on flying, and if possible watch where they fall. They should be retrieved immediately unless there are safety concerns or you have been instructed not to do so. In that case, such birds should be retrieved immediately the drive ends and before game that is known to be dead.
- If it is necessary to retrieve a runner (wounded game) during the drive, only send an experienced dog, and only if it is safe to do so.
- Once the Guns have left the drive, finally check behind the pegs (numbered markers indicating firing positions) before moving on.
- If you are using more than one dog, only one should be worked at a time unless you can handle them all.
- On some drives it may be necessary to leave one or two pickers-up behind to ensure all shot game has been collected after the Guns, beaters and other pickers-up move on.
- The shoot organiser or the head of the picking-up team should be told at the earliest opportunity if some game has not been picked-up.
- Do not allow your dog into an area that may be part of a later drive. Wounded game, however, should be retrieved as soon as possible, unless you are instructed otherwise.
- Guns often bring their own dogs and, if they wish to pick-up their own shot game, allow them to do so before they move to the next drive. However, check that all their game has been collected.
Always treat quarry with respect
Partridge shoots and grouse moors:
- Remember: safety first
- The guidance for pheasant shoots generally applies to other game shoots but note the following in particular:
- On partridge shoots pickers-up may be positioned next to the Guns. Care should be taken to ensure your position is safe, allows a good view of shot birds and does not distract the Guns.
- Remember, grouse usually fly low, hugging the contours of the moor. If you are not in the butts (numbered firing positions where the Guns stand) make sure you choose a safe position below the skyline to avoid being seen by the oncoming birds. Make sure before the drive starts that the Guns know where you are.
- Always mark shot game carefully and ensure that all shot game is retrieved. Pay particular attention to birds that may have been hit but carry on flying, watching where they fall. They should be retrieved as soon as possible after the drive is over or immediately if instructed or appropriate so to do. Such birds
- should be retrieved before dead game.
Flight Ponds and shooting over water:
- Remember: safety first!
- When picking up during evening flight on ponds or from moving water, you may receive instructions to pick up while shooting is still in progress. All wounded duck should be recovered as soon as practicable and all quarry should be recovered immediately from running water. If in doubt, ask.
- Extra care needs to be taken when retrieving birds from or across moving water, as dogs tire very quickly. Only experienced dogs should be used.
- When retrieving from moving water the handler, if possible, should walk downstream/tide during the retrieve to avoid the dog returning against the current. The handler should also assess where the dog can get out of the water before the retrieve is commenced.
- Always carry a torch, but do not use it until the end of the flight has been signalled.
- Never send a dog onto water covered by ice.
- The health and welfare of your dog is paramount.
- Check your dog regularly throughout the day. Watch out for cuts or thorns. Serious cuts should be dealt with immediately but remember to tell someone if you have to stop picking up to attend to your dog. Always have a dog first aid kit available.
- Remember that seed heads can get into eyes, ears and toes and long-haired breeds can become tangled with burrs.
- Take special care in cold weather as ice and snow can accumulate, particularly between the toes, and should be cleared.
- Make sure that your dog always has access to water, especially on warm days, particularly at lunchtime and at the end of the day.
- In cold weather a high energy snack will help to maintain your dog’s sugar levels. Chocolate is not recommended.
You may have worked hard during the day, but your dog will have worked even harder! Always attend to your dog before yourself; ensure it is warm and dry before travelling. Your dog may need food or drink before you leave if you have a long journey home.
Equipment Check List;
Whistle / leads / game dispatcher / game carrier (device for carrying dead game) / first aid kit / waterproof clothing / towels to dry yourself and your dog / drinking water / food for your dog.
BASC strongly recommends that gundog handlers are insured. Details of the BASC Gundog (Non-shooting) Membership Pack can be obtained from the marketing department on 01244 573012.
Veterinary treatment can be expensive. Dogs can be insured against accident, illness and death through the BASC working dog insurance scheme. For details call free phone 0800 0568 585.
For further help and advice call the BASC gundog helpline on 01244 573019 or email.
This code of practice would not have been possible without the guidance and advice of the BASC Gundog Advisory Committee.
“The wildlife of today is not ours to dispose of as we please. We have it in trust. We must account for it to those who come after.”
King George VI
BASC is a representative body for sporting shooting.
Picking up Code of Practice
Revised September 2012