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Your first time picking up

Article Date: Posted in Anthony Stodart, Experts, News and Shooting

Picking up shot game is the most important job on any days shooting and, as a result, gamekeepers will tend to have a team of trusted pickers up who know the ground and where game will tend to fall.

Thus, becoming a picker up can take time as, not only do you have to prove yourself, you have to prove your dog’s capabilities too. Having said that, being a good picker up can be very satisfying as it gives you a chance of showing your dog’s prowess in front of the guns who are invariably hugely appreciative if you have picked a wounded bird of theirs.  

The objective of picking up

‘Picking up’ refers to the collection of shot game, with the objective of covering the ground behind the guns and ensuring that any wounded birds are despatched promptly and humanely. Much of the responsibility associated with picking up will involve ‘sweeping up’ – effectively finding and picking up any fallen quarry and taking these birds to the game cart ensuring a clean sweep after each drive which is important both in terms of ensuring any wounded birds are dealt with but also that the numbers shot are accurate – of major importance when most let days are based on the bag quantity.

Tips for your first time picking up

Typically, picker ups work as part of a team and are normally some way behind the line of guns where they can see and mark where birds fall allowing them to send their dogs straight after anything that is wounded. The key to any successful first outing is to make sure that your dog is completely under control and that you are following your instructions precisely.

Make sure you get clearance on what to do with birds falling closer to the guns and particularly around those guns who have brought their own dogs. Most guns who bring their own dogs do so because it gives them huge pleasure working them at the end of a drive. It can therefore cause problems if your dog has hoovered up all the birds around a gun whose own dog is sitting patiently beside them. Focus first and foremost on anything that is wounded and make sure that has been found and despatched first. Dead birds aren’t going anywhere so they can be collected later on.

Above all else, take advice from your fellow picker ups as they will know the ropes and be keen to help you, be polite to the team of guns as they should have marked where their birds have dropped. In particular, they should have marked any wounded birds which will make your job easier. If you pick any wounded birds then it’s always worth letting the gun know when you next see them that you were successful.

What to bring and what to wear

As with any outdoor pursuit, you need to be prepared for all weather scenarios. Picking up by definition involves often long periods of time waiting for a drive to start and then watching where birds fall. That can then be followed by periods of high activity whilst you are working your dogs and gathering game and then carrying what can be a heavy load back to the game cart.

Warm layers are essential for the winter months but you want them to be breathable to get any sweat away from your skin so that you don’t get cold when you are waiting for the next drive. Good, robust waterproof trousers and a good, tough, waterproof jacket (preferably with a hood) are essentials when you will be out in all weathers and might have thick gorse, brambles, bracken and shrubs to contend with. You can often be on tough terrain so a good sturdy pair of warm boots will keep your feet in good shape. Finally a good hat will keep the warmth in on those cold blustery days.

In terms of kit, we would recommend a good game bag with a wide, sturdy strap and/or a pair of game carriers that can sit over your shoulders with these often being the easier and more comfortable way of carrying game leaving both hands free for your dogs and yourself. A stick is useful for that awkward terrain and for despatching game quickly and humanely or you can use a humane tool for doing the job - both options are good leaving their necks whole making hanging them easier.

In addition to that is all the kit you need for your dog/s and don’t forget water for them as there may not be water on the hill, particularly in August or a warm September.  

Most shoots provide refreshments, however you should check this before you go to make sure and it’s definitely a good idea to take a bottle or flask and some snacks with you to keep yourself hydrated and full of energy.  

If you’re not sure what to wear, then have a look at our suggested products below which are popular with pickers up:

Seeland Marsh Shooting Jacket

seeland Marsh Jacket


Waterproof and Windproof
​Available as a full suit 
Designed for shooting with cartridge pockets, handwarmer pockets and a game pocket

£179.95 (RRP £199.99)

Shop now


Seeland Marsh Shooting Trousers

seeland Marsh trousers


Provides protection from undergrowth and rough terrain
​Windproof, waterproof and breathable  
Large thigh pockets and articulated knees 

£114.95 (RRP £129.99)

Shop now


Seeland Marsh Cap

seeland Marsh cap


Fold down fleece ear warmers
​Made from robust polyamide canvas
Fleece lined

£34.95 (RRP £39.99)

Shop now


Shop Seeland Marsh Range 


Harkila Pro Hunter X Gents Shooting Jacket

pro hunter x gents jacket


High quality shooting jacket
​Windproof, waterproof and breathable
Large front cartridge pockets and game pocket
Full suit available


Shop now


Harkila Pro Hunter X Lady Shooting Jacket

pro hunter x ladies jacket


High quality shooting jacket
​Windproof, waterproof and breathable
Large front cartridge pockets and game pocket
Full suit available


Shop now

Shop full Harkila Pro Hunter Range 

Seeland Crieff Gents Shooting Overtrousers

crieff short over trousers


Seetex membrane
​Waterproof and breathable 
Elasticated waistband

£79.95 (RRP: £89.99)

Shop now


Seeland Exeter Advantage Gents Shooting Jacket

seeland exeter gents


Robust jacket with a tough outer fabric
​Fleece lined handwarmer pockets
Large cartridge pockets
Full suit available 

£159.95 (RRP: £169.99)

Shop now


Seeland Exeter Advantage Ladies Shooting Jacket

seeland exeter ladies


Robust jacket with a tough outer fabric
​Fitted, ladies silhouette
Large cartridge pockets
Full suit available 

£154.95 (RRP: £169.99)

Shop now

ShooterKing Greenland Jacket

shootking greenland


Durable men's shooting jacket 
​Made from technical, high quality materials
Concealed hood


Shop now


ShooterKing Greenland Women's Jacket

shooterking greenland women's jacket


Lightweight, noiseless and breathable
​Flattering, feminine fit
Adjustable cuffs and detachable hood


Shop now

David Nickerson Canvas Game Bag

David Nickerson Canvas Game Bag


Heavy duty canvas game bag
​Comfortable wide shoulder strap 
Outer mesh pocket and quick release buckles

£19.95 - £21.95

Shop now


David Nickerson Canvas Game Carriers

David Nickerson Canvas Game carrier


Durable, canvas strap for transportation of game

£9.95 - £10.95

Shop now


If you have any questions regarding clothing, footwear or accessories for your day in the field, then please don't hesitate to contact a member of our team. 

Article Date: Posted in Anthony Stodart, Experts, News and Shooting

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