PICKING UP ...
The etiquette for each shoot may vary, but if it is a formal driven shoot,with paying guns you will not be far out of place if you follow my thoughts on what is correct, and what is not.
Ensure you are at the shoot in good time, this takes the pressure off the keeper as he will not be worried that he hasn't enough staff. The only way to be on time is be prepared the night before with all the directions to the shoot. If you feel you may be late due to unforeseen circumstances,let the keeper know as soon as possible. Ensure you are aware of what is required for transport, some shoots like you to take your own 4x4, and others do provide this for you. If you happen to talk to the guns, be polite and if you are unsure what to call someone, “Sir” is a good place to start. Not until you are given permission by the gun you are speaking to would you not use “Sir”.
Some picking up days I have been on they do ask you to wear tweed but this is not so often. We must however look well turned out with shirt and tie, and suitable clean foot wear. It is not good practice to turn up with a t shirt on and jeans. If you did I’m sure it would be the only visit to that shoot!! Suitable foot wear is essential, as you will, or could be crossing rough terrain and in wet conditions. Ensure the footwear is supportive to prevent any sprains.
You cannot just turn up without the correct equipment. It’s like a plumber only bringing an apple for his tools. You will require a priest to dispatch any wounded game/quarry. A game carrier, or bag to hold your collected quarry. I find a bag is insufficient on some days as you may be picking up far too many birds to hold in a bag. Also the game carrier enables the birds to cool down better.
In the field
Normally you would be expected to have more than one dog, and your dogs need to be well trained, and willing to be put to task on some retrieves. You and your dogs are there to primarily pick up birds that are wounded, and need dispatching. After that you will be required to sweep up for any birds that have fallen that may be missed. The guns you are covering may have their own dogs and may want to pick their own birds. If this is the case wait until the gun signals to you it is fine for you to continue, or ask him what his requirements are.
The head picker up should show you,or advise you where to stand and also offer advice on that particular drive.
On most shoots you are to remain behind the guns with controlled dogs. You and your dogs should not be heard.
A dog barking or whining, during a drive is frowned upon.
If there is a runner you must collect and dispatch as soon as possible. You should be in a position to see the next picker up where ever possible,so you all cover the line of guns and are able to communicate to each other.
Once all areas are cleared you will then head to the game cart.
Some shoots have a dedicated game cart person and all you have to do is drop the birds with them. Other shoots you have to ensure the birds are stowed away properly. Every shoot is different so be prepared to listen.