I’ve always wanted to shoot in the UK — but not for driven birds. Instead, I want to go rough shooting, which is what you see in this video.
Nick Ridleyis the U.K.’s leading dog photographer. He’s also bird hunter, dog trainer, and a lover of cocker spaniels.
For years now, he and his Circle of Trust Rough Shooting Syndicate have been making videos of their shooting adventures throughout the UK. The one above shows them in Bedfordshire hunting pheasants and chukars in terrain that looks a lot like the northeastern US. As always, Nick shoots well and his cocker spaniel Ted does a great job.
For the next installment in our “cocker spaniel, you’ve-got-to-see-this video series”, check out this one from Nick Ridley over in the UK. Over there, they use spaniels to hunt rabbits. The vid is shot with a drone, and if you watch closely you’ll spot bunnies bolting from the cover, unseen by the shooter.
Here’s a dog I haven’t heard of before: The Sprocker. It’s a cross between a Springer Spaniel and a Cocker Spaniel.
According to SprockerSpaniel.co.uk, Sprockers have been around for over 2o years, and there are between 5,000 – 10,000 of them in the UK, making one of the most popular spaniel breeds there.
Other than color variations, I’m not sure what advantages a Sprocker offers, and I don’t understand what niche they fill in the gundog world. Is it a leggy, rangier Cocker? A stockier, close-hunting Springer? If you have one, please let me know. I would love to learn more.
For some folks, British is always better – from shotguns to gundogs. While I’m a nut for British doubles, I’ve always had my doubts about spaniels and labs imported from the UK. Like our language, the way we hunt differs just enough to make the transition from one side of the Atlantic to the other a bit bumpy.
In this post from Sporting Classic, trainer Todd Agnew points out some of these bumps and explains why you may be better off American-bred dogs when you’re searching for your next hunting companion.
“We all have expectations to different degrees, and at Craney Hill Kennel, they are extremely high for our dogs. The theory is that if we set our standards to an almost unattainable level, when we fall short, our dogs will still be very talented animals. It is hard to keep such a high standard when the public’s is so low that it becomes difficult to continually explain why you can or cannot do something.
Many people have a predisposed opinion of English dogs. This could be body structure, personality or training method. Regarding structure, I think it’s a mistake to think that an English dog looks like this or that. There may be certain tendencies, but the English dogs come in all shapes and sizes just like their American cousins. If you buy a puppy from England, you may get a 60-pound male with no legs or a 60-pound male with long legs. Or, you may get the same legs but the dog is 80 pounds!….
Check out this quick video for a fun look at an English Cocker puppy being introduced to birds. The energy that these little dogs have always makes me smile. The video features trainer Bill Schaller of Schaller’s English Cocker