It’s been said that shooting without a peg dog is like eating strawberries without cream: It’s do-able, but not as enjoyable. Ok, we “get” strawberries and cream, but what on earth is a peg dog?
The short answer is that a peg dog is a dog that sits at your peg (shooting station) while you shoot, then retrieves game after the drive has finished. At the end of each bird release, hunters rotate to the next shooting peg. This keeps things interesting, and assures that every gunner has the opportunity to shoot from each peg. A peg dog can be any breed of dog, but it’s typically a retrieving breeds, and Labrador Retrievers are the most popular choice.
Needless to say, a dog doesn’t just become a peg dog without training. Hearing the shot of a gun means a peg dog is alert and looking around for the fall of a bird before glancing back at the hunter for the command to retrieve the bird. A peg dog may need to sit for long stretches – maybe up to an hour, during which time a large number of shots will be fired, birds shot and game moved past the seated dog. This is a lot to ask of a retriever.
These days, there are paid professional peg dogs, or “picker-up dogs,” and that has impacted the welcome once extended to hunters with their own dogs. In fact, peg dogs – and their owners – are becoming a rare sight. Taking ones own dog to a shoot is being lost, and most are barely tolerated on many shoots. This is a surprisingly contentious issue for those of us who’ve just now heard of peg dogs for the first time. Read more about the issue here.
“Good Day of Hunting” by Linda Besse has been sold, but see more of this talented artist’s work for sale here.