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Fur Feather & Fin Blog

Training Tips for Gundog Puppies

Some gundogs are more suited to certain jobs on the shooting field compared to others, though the majority of us need a dog capable of various tasks. When it comes to training your puppy for the field, it helps to have an idea of the tasks you will want it to perform, but you shouldn’t start on a strict training programme right away. Focus on the basics and keeping them doing the right thing.

Puppy running over grass

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Essential Beating Kit

If you’re new to beating then you may be wondering what it is you’ll actually need to wear and take with you. Whilst all shoots differ, here is the basic kit that you will definitely need if you are going to enjoy yourself. Woodland shooting beating essential kit | Gloves waterproofs chaps leggings gun dogs stick hat fleece | Fur Feather and Fin country living and sporting gifts

Boots & Gaiters — Wellies are great but very few, if any, offer the proper foot and ankle support you ought to have when spending an entire day tramping up and down hills through rough ground. A good pair of waterproof boots in conjunction with a decent pair of gaiters will keep your feet and lower legs supported, protected, and relatively dry. Waxed Leggings/Chaps — personally I prefer chaps as they are very easy to remove, and allow your nether regions to breathe! If you’re worried about a wet backside then leggings are the best way to go, they also tend to be a little better at keeping you dry. Base Layer — If you aren’t sweating when you’re on a beating line then there’s something wrong. When you’re clothes become damp from the inside it’s far more uncomfortable than when they become damp from the outside. A simple way of combating this is a wicking base layer, which also helps to keep you warm. Fleece— As well as being a good insulator to help keep you warm, fleece is also quick drying and helps to wick moisture away from your body.  It is also lightweight, reasonably rain-proof, and tends to be reasonably priced. Waterproofs— if the weather gets truly savage, it may be necessary to break out the waterproofs. Thin plastic-type waterproofs will last about a minute when you’re beating your way through dense undergrowth. You will need either heavy PVC/PVC lined waterproofs, or heavy waxed waterproofs. Gloves — No one likes having cold hands, and you can’t walk along with them in your pockets when you’re beating as you need them for balance. You don’t need anything too special as long as they make and attempt at being waterproof, and you’re able to hold your stick or a warm drink. Stick — A stick is always a useful thing on a beat. It gives you additional support and allows you to spread your weight on a climb, and also is useful to whack against trees and ground to help corral the birds in the correct direction. Hat — Keeping the rain out of your eyes, as well as your head warm! Dog & Whistle — Dog’s aren’t for everyone, and neither is gundog training. An untrained dog has no place on a beating line, and best case scenario is it will ruin the paid-guns day (you can forget your invite in the future!). Worst case scenario is it will be accidentally shot or seriously injure itself. If you want to be able to take your dog beating, it will need a considerable amount of training first. The basics can be found in our gundog training articles, after which you should seek the advice of the shoots keepers as to who can help you bring your dog along.

CLA Game Fair 2014

It’s the time of year when the ladies and gentlemen of the country loving world proudly don their Tweed flat caps and come along to help celebrate the Great British countryside with the other keen attendees at this year’s CLA Game Fair. CLAA Game Fair From Friday 18th to Sunday 20th July 2014 the annual event will take place at Blenheim Palace to become the CLA Game Fair’s 56th year of the event’s history, and if you are looking to attend a country fair this year, then this is the one that is simply not to be missed. Visitors are guaranteed to enjoy an action-packed programme that will offer them the chance to watch some of the best country sportsmen do what they do best and spectators can even see how they fare when they have a go themselves. Gunmakers Row will also be packed with the very best and latest shooting products in the industry, so be sure to come and see us at Stand S650 for barrel loads of shooting accessories, clothing and gifts. Fancy a go on clay shooting range, stepping up to the archery range, or maybe the fishing village is more your thing? There’s fantastic variety of field sports and country pursuits on offer to try your hand at, from beginners to experts, there’s something to be enjoyed. Don’t forget to catch the 4x4 off-road course displays where exciting displays will be taking place either. Finally, for dog owners and enthusiasts there will be a number of top professionals going head-to-head in a host of Gundog competitions, again, simply not to be missed! We look forward to seeing you there!

Keeping warm this winter

The winter season may appear to get in the way of going out and shooting or beating, however, with the right equipment, it is something you can do all year round. Here's how to brave the elements and enjoy a winter's day in the country: Winter shooting | Keeping warm this winter | Fur Feather and Fin country living and gifts

Layering… Layering is the term that refers to wearing several layers of clothing rather than one bulky garment. The science behind this is that air is trapped in between the layers of clothing — air is a very poor conductor of heat so these layers of air prevent heat from escaping from your body. Layers can be broken down into three categories; Base, Middle, and Outer layers:   Base layer — Modern base layers are usually made of a close-fitting comfortable synthetic fabric designed to wick moisture (perspiration) away from your body as it is produced. The importance of removing moisture will be explained later in the waterproofing section. Middle layer — This is often referred to as the insulating layer, and can actually be up to two or three layers of insulating clothing such as a microfleece, thick shirt, and jumper. How many middle layers you wear will depend on just how cold it is, but in the UK one or two is the norm. Outer layer — The outer layer, usually a heavy coat or waterproof, is designed to protect your base and middle layers from the elements (wind and rain). If cold air or water is able to get to your other layers they will be rendered useless.   Waterproofing… Water conducts heat from the human body 20 times faster than air, so the moment perspiration builds up or rain gets in you are set for a miserable outing! In my opinion, there is no such thing as a breathable waterproof coat! Better quality coats will be rain-proof to a point, but after enough driving wind the rain will be driven into the pores that usually allow air to circulate. That isn’t to say that some coats will not keep you dry all day in the rain, but it is a rarity so don’t expect too much from such items if the weather is utterly foul. To be truly waterproof a garment needs to be made of something that will hold water, such as PVC, heavily waxed cotton, or treated leather. It will also need to have either no seams or very well made and placed seams. The trouble with true waterproofs is they tend to be heavy, as well as rather sticky inside once you start moving around. There’s no magic trick here unfortunately, heavy waxed outers are probably the best all round compromise in wet weather country days out.   Hats… Contrary to popular myth, you only lose approximately 10% of your body heat from your head. Nevertheless this is enough to make you feel uncomfortable, so a hat & scarf to keep your noggin warm and dry is always a good idea.   Footwear… I generally wear a pair of leather and Gore-Tex wellies, then vary the thickness of my socks to suit the weather. However everyone’s needs will be different as no two people or environment are the same. My choice was struck on a compromise between comfort, waterproofing, durability, and style (in that order as those are my personal priorities). Probably the most popular option is to have a pair of Neoprene lined wellies for the wet and cold, and a pair of brogues when conditions are more civil.   Alcohol… Alcohol does not warm you, this myth comes from a basic misunderstanding. When we are cold our blood vessels contract and move away from the surface of our skin (making us appear pale or blue!). When we then enter a warm environment we find it difficult to absorb external heat as our blood is being kept away from the external environment. Alcohol Expands blood vessels, so drinking when you are outside will actually make you colder, because more blood vessels will be exposed to the environment and heat will be exchanged from your blood to the cold air around. Drinking once you get back into the warm will however aid warmth as it allows your blood vessels to expand and absorb the external heat. It’s worth mentioning that this can also result in broken blood vessels as often blood vessels expand too quickly due to alcohol. Having said all of this, what would a day’s shooting or beating be without the customary end-of-day tipple or sup from the hip flask! Always drink responsibly — www.drinkaware.co.uk   Getting on with it!... Ultimately the best way to stay warm and dry is to simply get on with it — a bit of wind and rain won’t kill you, and the right clothing will soften the effects. Moving around will generate warmth and help dry you off. Smile, enjoy yourself, and wear the right kit!

Strong grouse season predicted on Glorious Twelfth

Grouse Season Shooting Scotland | Glorious Twelfth Lapwig Curlew Estates | Fur Feather Fin Country Lifestyle GiftsThis year’s grouse shooting season looks set to be a memorable one if the nation’s best gamekeepers are proved to be correct. With the Glorious Twelfth celebrated today, gamekeepers say prospects for the season look good thanks to the mild winter and warm spring we’ve experienced this year. While those conditions are believed to have boosted grouse numbers the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) says prospects are also good for the threatened curlew and lapwig species.

Excellent heather management and predator control by gamekeepers has helped produce a surplus of grouse for sport, which has also benefitted the threatened curlews and lapwigs. “The prospects for the grouse season look good,” SGA chairman Alex Hogg has reported. “The weather has been right for the birds, and they’ve feathered up well, while there’s also been enough water and a healthy insect hatch.” Mr Hogg said that it should secure a good season for sporting visitors to the Highlands, which will, in turn, help Scotland’s small rural communities, its tourism businesses, shops and retailers. The season is expected to net Scotland’s economy around £32m. While the economic benefits of a good season are welcome, Mr Hogg said he was more pleased to see Scotland’s native birds thriving. He said: “The most pleasing thing for us, is the fate of our fragile species." Mr Hogg added how conservation work by gamekeepers has seen a full head count take place of all the country’s curlews and lapwigs — work paid for by grouse. “Since sustainable grouse shooting helps estates to pay keepers for such vital conservation work without public money,” Mr Hogg argued, “the season helps to prevent afforestation of vast swathes of Scotland’s heather moorland, which is more endangered than the rainforest. To celebrate the Glorious Twelfth why not buy one of our charming grouse themed products? You could have breakfast from a grouse egg cup before putting on one of several silk grouse ties and heading out to shoot.

All About: Barbour International

At Fur Feather & Fin we stock a variety of iconic country clothing brands. One of the most well-known British brands, Barbour, and how they came to be one of the most famous manufacturers of coats and jackets in the world. Please note, we do not stock Barbour clothes, but have a variety of country clothing and accessories from top brands: take a look here.

Macro shot of Barbour jacket showing the Barbour logo

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Hosting The Perfect Spring Garden Party

Spring is right around the corner and on a day of blue skies and sunshine, there is no better way to spend your time than inviting over family and friends for an intimate and fun garden party, full of delicious food, drink and laughter. It can be a great way to start your spring and summer season of socialising with friends you have not seen for a while.

decorate your garden for a spring garden party Get out your best ladies country clothingfor the event, and be sure to relax and enjoy the event and celebrating the start of spring. Our guide will help you plan the best spring garden party, with some lovely country twists:

Invitations

For a spring party that will include family, friends and children, it might be best to plan it during the school holidays and check when people are available before sending out invites. Be simple or fancy with the invites, either sending out little postcard invites, design the invites online, or keep it simple and less time consuming with an e-mail invite.

Décor and decorations

For any bunting you may want to hang up, light colours are great for spring; think green, yellows, lavender or pink. Keep it natural, though, using flowers found in your garden or picked while on a country walk. If you don’t want lots of fresh flowers, try dried flowers to decorate any tables laid out and add some candles, scented or not. When the evening draws on, turn on fairy lights you have strung up, and light the candles, to create a cosy feeling. For some comfort, add some cushionson the outdoor seating.

Food

This may seem like the difficult part, but keep it simple and you can do it all yourself – or with some help from family and friends. If you want just a simple social gathering, you don’t need to fuss over having lots of food, so you won’t need to bother with the main dish. Be aware of allergies, and place any foods of ‘risk’ together.

Food ideas

With warm weather, it is perfect for salad, mixing colourful ingredients and providing a tasty, healthy option. If you want dips, use carrots, cucumber and pepper to dip in rather than bread. Try fruit and veg kebabs, using delicious seasonal fruits, or a fruit salad in a delicious punch juice. As it is in a garden, you want food that will keep well, so go for cold meat pies rather than ones which need to be served hot, and if you have a cheeseboard, be sure to keep it shaded and have some interesting chutneys to go with them. When making any cakes to serve, make them fruity, trying the raspberry cheesecake, orange blossom cake or mixed berry parfaits.

Drinks

We like to think of fruity and fun drinks in the spring, and there are so many options. Go for a non-alcoholic fruit punch if children will be present, have some lovely raspberry gin for any adults who want to mix up a cocktail, and sparkling champagne or prosecco to give it a fancy feel.

Guide to applying for a Firearms Licence

When you first start shooting, you are often regaled with numerous stories about how difficult it was to get a firearms licence. Common myths include:

  • “You need land in order to get a firearms licence”
  • “You won’t get one if you have any history of significant physical or mental health”
  • “You’ll need to set up Fort Knox to keep your guns safe”
  • “It’s very expensive”

Below is a step-by-step guide to applying for your first firearms and/or shotgun licence that dispels some of the more common myths and pitfalls.

firearms licence forms waiting to be filled out

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The Fur Feather & Fin Guide To The Country

A woodcock stood in a puddle of water in a forest.

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Animal Fact File: Mallard

The mallard is the most familiar dabbling duck in Britain, with the green head of the male and mottled brown of the females. A medium sized waterfowl species, it is heavier than other dabbling ducks.

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Guide To Gundogs

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A plate of roast quail, potatoes and vegetables
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