There are a few ways of hunting which spring to mind when you think about hunting with dogs. Now the reason I said ‘few’ is that here in the UK, driven hunting for animals like boar and deer is not common practice – in fact, it’s actually illegal.
The United Kingdom, territories too small for driven hunt
Of course, it wouldn’t be common practice anyway, as all woodland is divided into small to medium size plots, belonging to different landowners.
So, there isn’t enough space to “drive” the animal before it runs on to land where you don’t have permission to hunt. Even on a 10,000-acre estate, it’s illegal so no honest hunter would do it.
The most popular hunting dogs
The most popular hunting dogs are Labradors, spaniels, pointers and other hounds. They are all great dogs for many different purposes, although mainly used for retrieving birds.
Of course, there are people who use some of the above breeds in stalking and tracking deer, as there are some hunters who shoot birds on the ground or water. It’s a controversial subject and it could get very heated for some of us. I am not however involved in any bird hunting or drive hunting with dogs, which is why I think my opinion is independent and what could be called an objective viewpoint.
A sense of pride!
I often have conversations with my friends about the experience and thrill hunters feel when their own dogs do an amazing job tracking, grabbing the animal, and how proud they feel when a young dog finally – and singlehandedly – holds an animal until the hunter arrives.
Your hunting dog, this hero!
The dogs that work big and dangerous game are different kinds of dogs altogether. I am not saying that other dogs are not good, I am just saying that they are in a different league. There is nothing better than having a dog that can work all day long and keep bringing you birds as fast as you drop them – from swamps, fields or brambles: it’s amazing.
However, when you have a hunting partner who would hold a boar or bear until you are ready to take a clear shot with your rifle, who will hold the front line even if the animal decides to go for you; these are dogs who are prepared to die for you. That’s why it is interesting to equip them with resistant dog vests.
Retrieving dogs can expect a reasonably good retirement: they’ll end up on the sofa with their owners and enjoy sweet memories. Dogs that work big game, on the other hand, most of the time won’t see retirement, as they risk being killed doing what they do best – tracking, holding, …… and hunting.