The Countryman's Weekly


June 03
07:02 2020

Teaching your gundog to quarter

By David Mazey.

MOST spaniels are hardwired to hunt but very few of them have any idea of distance. They’re led by their noses and simply follow any line of scent, usually at breakneck speed, as far as it goes or they think it might go! Now clearly for the shooting man, this is no use at all as any quarry they flush is likely to be way out of range if it’s in sight at all! So, what can we do about this?

Well, first of all, we need a nice area of reeds, long grass or cover that you can walk through. I’ve got a little valley full of reeds, and increasingly flag iris, which is about 25-30m wide – perfect width to train close hunting. To begin with, the handler has to decide on a hunting command – I suggest ‘find it!’ (or ‘seek on’ if you want to sound professional) – though, quite honestly, it doesn’t matter what you say as long as you stick to it.

The aim is to get the dog hunting the entire area in front of you by sending him out first to one side and then turning him to hunt the opposite side, all the time avoiding him going too far ahead. Obviously, he’s not going to know this instinctively, so we need to teach him to quarter effectively.

I start them off on the lead because I want to concentrate on hunting. Although many spaniels hunt naturally enough, to keep them in the desired pattern would mean stopping them and calling them back into the area too often.


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