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Memories of Scud, His Littermates, and Associated Stories
by John DeMott
- Photos courtesy of the Author

Continued from Part One.

At the end of August or the beginning of September there would always be a day when you knew summer was over for another year. There would be that little nip in the air and you suddenly realised the sun was setting much earlier than in the summer. Although it always made me a bit sad that summer days were over, I knew it was the beginning of my favourite two months of the year. It was the beginning of dogging in period and the beginning of the shooting season. The wheat and barley had been harvested and the pheasants were starting to wander from their release pens in the woods.

"I loved this work. It was only the dogs and myself without the pressures and hassles of shooting parties."

It was not only a gamekeeper's job to rear healthy pheasants and release them in the woods. They also had to make sure the pheasants stayed in the right places. One way they did this was to feed the pheasants first thing in the morning and in the evening. Each keeper whistled his own unique whistle. The birds were taught this meant feeding time when they were first put in the release pens, before they would be allowed to roam freely. Pheasants would come running and flying to feed rides in the woods when they heard the feeding whistle. It was quite a spectacle to see literally hundreds of pheasants come running and flying to a keepers whistle often from quite a distance. Also several times a day the keepers would patrol the perimeter of the estate. Whenever they saw pheasants wandering too far from the woods or onto the roads they would push the birds back to where they belonged, using their dogs to accomplish this. The keepers were quite happy for me to help out with this chore. I would put three dogs on leads walk up the road to the field I had taken Scud and his gang to the previous year when they were young puppies. From there I could work a dog more or less continuously one-way for 1-2 miles. By the time I turned around to go back pheasants would be coming out again so there was always scent to keep their interest up. I would work one dog at a time. When the dog I was working started to lose his sharpness I would put him on a lead and work another. On sunny calm days the pheasants really liked to wander so I could dog-in almost continuously on those days. I loved this work. It was only the dogs and myself without the pressures and hassles of shooting parties. You could really let the dogs roll American trial style and get them swinging to a good pattern. It was a major disappointment when the estate stopped planting barley and wheat some years later.

Saighton's Scud and his littermates.

Laddie remained a level above his littermates. After a few weeks of "dogging in" as we called it, I was quite confident Laddie was ready for the shooting season. He was working perfectly and was responding instantly to all commands. I was confident I could keep a handle on him during the shooting season, providing I kept on my toes.

Sometime early in October Talbot said to me that he wanted a top dog to take out as his personal dog and that he wanted to take over Laddie. My heart sank. I knew Talbot would not keep a handle on Laddie during shooting days. Anyone who knew Talbot knew that if you told him he couldn't do something it would make him all the more determined to try to do whatever it was. I had a real dilemma. I would rather he had any other dog. I could see all my hard work training and developing a relationship with this dog going down the drain. I will always remember the day Talbot came to the kennels to take Laddie out for the first time. He took him to the stubble fields to see how he handled. When Talbot came back he said, "I haven't lost my touch the dog handled perfectly for me". In desperation a few days later I suggested Talbot would do better with Scud as his personal dog. Talbot did take Scud out to see how he worked. He came back and said "Scud will probably make a good dog but he is not as far along as Laddie so I will carry on with Laddie". A few weeks later the first shooting party came. Talbot and I were to take a few guns and work a hedgerow with the dogs. The guns shot about 6 pheasants and Laddie ran in on every one

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