An overview of Tristan Gale’s experience taking Ivy the German Longhaired Pointer to The Grouse Pointing Experience Day at Roxby Estate in North Yorkshire.
The sheer mention of the bird and my mind begins to drift towards thoughts of beautiful purple heather coated moors, with an army of beaters pushing hundreds of birds towards waiting guns. However, if you own an hunter pointer retriever you will know there is a far more rewarding method to finding the birds.
The last Saturday in July marked The Grouse Pointing Experience Day for the Norfolk and Suffolk HPR Field Trial Club at Roxby Estate in North Yorkshire. Having never been on the moors before, I was keen to get going and find some grouse. After briefings from the organiser, two trainers and a quick chat from Mark (the most relaxed gamekeeper I have ever encountered), we were off!
I was first to run as Ivy is fairly sheep proof and was quickly reminded how fast the German Longhaired Pointer can cover ground as Ivy sprinted her pattern into a face wind. As the day progressed, I learned much about the grouse, the heather and the monumental amount of work Mark puts in to keep wildlife flourishing on the moor.
I learned more about how to approach the wind and letting the dog run through the afternoon. Unfortunately, due to a lack of young surviving the late winter along with lack of food this year, grouse were wise and in the air before Ivy had an opportunity to point, a problem encountered by most dogs over our weekend. Charlie (our trainer) and Mark were incredibly helpful throughout, providing tips on areas grouse were likely to be and how best to approach little issues thrown up during the day.
It was a poignant reminder that I have a cracking dog with a handler that needs work!
We retired to the hotel that evening trying to digest all that had been learned.
The following day was the test! We ran third and had a good run, having tried our best to cover the ground. Unfortunately, we were not graded this time, this being said, the judges gave us some great feedback: “You worked really well together, she is attentive to your commands and body language, some very quiet handling and you covered all the ground methodically. You should be really proud.”
So, there it is, my first experience on grouse and we are now hooked. I write this following our second weekend on Roxby Estate, this time for an introduction to field trialling where we came away with a Certificate of Merit.