I was in at number 3, under Adrian Slater, and was immediately backing up in the wood in which the trial started. A couple of pheasants flushed on the other side within the first 50 metres or so and a hen bird was shot and hit but glided well back. I couldn’t see much of the other side but there was a flush and retrieve on our side and it wasn’t long before I was up.
Before I even had chance to remove the lead Adrian asked me to follow him and we were going to try on a runner that the dog on the other side couldn’t find. I cast Fern out into the area but she didn’t come back with anything, tried again and still nothing. Both judges went out to the area and luckily for my mate Steve Rogers and me no bird was found.
Back to my side and I cast Fern off hunting. She was hunting nicely, ideal cover with brambles and stick piles in the bottom of the wood. She was taking her ground in nicely and with pace, I was enjoying being behind her. We were approaching the end of the wood and I could see the cover was starting to get a little more sparse and that birds were heading to the end where there was a dry stone wall stopping them from flipping out over onto the fell. At this point Fern started to pull a bit on the scent and she was getting harder to control, a couple of recall whistles kept her within range.
She flushed two birds which were shot at but missed, and then flushed a single, another pair and then 3 more when we were almost against the wall. Unfortunately none of these birds were shot at and I felt I’d missed 4 ideal opportunities for a retrieve. Fern had been sat after her last flush for a minute or so and when I was asked to cast her off for the last ten yards of the wood she squeaked. I was gutted. She hasn’t done it before and in hindsight I should have pipped her back towards me rather than casting her from where she was. I think the frustration and number of flushes she’d had with no retrieves had sent her over the edge. Possibly two trials in three days were too much for a young dog too.
Never mind, we’ll try again soon. Got some good comments from the game carriers, but just wasn’t good enough today.