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reviews by Bill Fawcett

Rough Shooting by Mike Swan

Ever wonder how it's done "over there"? I guess it depends on where you live. Since the Spaniel Journal has an international audience, let me qualify that: Ever wonder how it's done in the UK?
Rough Shooting

According to the book's jacket, "Mike Swan has written a book which is both a practical guide to sport with dog and gun and also a celebration of the simple pleasures of informal shooting. In an age dominated by the organised driven shoot, the author reminds us of the quality and variety of sport which can still be enjoyed by the sportsman and his dog."

OK, for those of us in America, who have never seen an "organised shoot" the whole premise seems rather alien. Which it is - to us. The target audience is the UK hunter. The rest of us can take a look, if we care to.

And of course, the appropriate dog for rough shooting is the spaniel. So, to understand the spaniel it is helpful to understand the manner in which it is used in its motherland.

Swan is the Head of Education at the Game Conservancy Trust, a hunter-oriented conservation organization. A lot of the Trust's work involves consultation on the management of wild game and habitat. He lives in Dorset, where he shares the management and keepering of a rough shoot.

Without going into detail (read the book), the hunting scene in the UK is vastly different from that in the US. On the other hand, there are many similarities. I found the entire book quite fascinating.

The first section of the book details many of the basic skills and equipment required of a hunter. The third chapter studies what many of us think is the most essential equipment: The Rough Shooter's Dog. In this chapter he states, "There is no doubt that well-managed spaniels are a joy both to watch and to shoot over. In that sense they are the perfect 'all-round' rough shooter's dog."

Swan also spends time on clothing, guns and other equipment. The book reminds me of many of the old Outdoor Life manuals that I devoured as a young hunter. Good basic stuff meeting some good basic needs.

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