My favourite type of running dog is the good old working whippet (not those spindly poor excuse of show whippet) for a true working whippet is quick of pace with brains, That dog will put a Coney (rabbit) that slips a net back in the bag in a flash with a short burst of speed unlike any other running dog in my opinion, I also favour the whippet cross collie for that little extra too.
If any of you have read my books you will know of my love for the humble working whippet or whippet crosses, you will also know of two of the very best dogs that have ever owned me and that is my Gyp and her daughter Blue, One was crafty and one was clever and together they made a great team and over the years put hundreds if not thousands of rabbits in the bag.
DISASTER struck two years ago when those horrid false widow spiders got into my ferret court, They murdered my entire court of ferrets and since that day I have declared a hatred for those murderous arachnoid’s, I see one I kill it I see a nets it gets insecticide, I was so broken hearted about my poor ferrets that I just could not bring myself to replace them, the vision of my poor big Hobb Sam dragging himself to me with a bite in his spine broke my heart and filled my heart with hatred for those 8 legged murderers, I will tell you there is nothing anyone can say to change my mind either.
Well a few weeks ago my Becky who upon knowing I was a shell of myself for two years without my ferrets and that was the worst two years of my life for I had been around or kept ferrets for fourty years, She also saw how the Young Sports all started watching my old ferreting DVDs the day before we would go shooting.
Then listening to all the kids saying Ohhhhh I wish The Ole Hedge Creeper still had ferrets and take us ferreting as he tells us such amazing stories of momentous battles and tales of when the pugs (ferrets) did battle with the drummers (ferrets) deep underground.
So my Becky in all the ways a woman can charm said why don’t you get these boys some ferrets? At first I said no I am not going through what happened with my court the last time, So she said well why don’t you get the boys the ferrets and they are theirs but you must teach them all that you know.
She also added looking in my eyes with her womanly charm and doe eyes staring right into my heart, it would be travesty if you let all that knowledge die with you especially when you have all these Young Sports craving to learn all you know, and you always said that’s why you started Pass It On Young Sports to pass on the knowledge.
Well bowl me over a woman knows how to get the best from her rough ole country boy don’t she, So I agreed and put an appeal out on The Ole Hedge Creepers page on face book asking is there anyone willing to donate to the young sports some ferrets a cage or two and a carry box or two, That’s all they needed as I had everything else from spades to locators purse nets to long nets, I kept all my stuff just burnt the hutches and carry boxes when those murderous spiders murdered my poor ferrets.
I had many offers from many muckers from all around this great country that I call Englandshire but alas most were too far afield, then a message from my ole mucker Andy who said he would drop down double tier ferret cage almost new he did not need anymore.
Then a message from another mucker he had two ferrets well-handled for the kids and working too he also got another friend to donate two of this year’s kits and he had a spare double tier cage too.
I was simply overwhelmed by the support from my fellow fieldsportmen and women and within a couple of weeks we had both cages and all the ferrets and a carry box all settled in, In fact the day Steve and his son Charlie brought the ferrets down it was a Sunday, So we had agreed for him to bring all his kit and some older ferrets and let’s take the young sports out ferreting that very day.
I don’t know who was more excited the young sports or me, Steve was not due down till 9am and well both myself and the young sports were all wide awake by 5am, I have always been the same on a ferreting day I have never needed an alarm I am always the first up fed car packed and having a mug of tea by the time any of the other lads had even stirred.
Now my young sports are no different 5am I passed Connor on the way back from the loo he said he can’t sleep he was too excited about going ferreting not ten seconds later David appeared saying butterflies in his belly kept him awake so we headed down for breakfast.
Within an hour there is a knock at the door? It was young sports Jake and Tyler all dressed ready to go ferreting, they said they could not sleep for the butterflies and saw our light on and though it must be time to go.
Three hours later after several more cups of tea and watching ferreting DVDs the boys could not wait a minute longer, I thought they were going to burst, so they went outside and sat on the pavement waiting for Steve to arrive with the ferrets, I heard the cheer from the house when he arrived hmmmm I think the young sports were a bit excited waiting for their ferrets to come don’t you.
Well we put the hutches in position sorted out the bedding and the saw dust for the outside area filled the water bottle etc so the cages were ready for when we returned from ferreting.
In the meantime the young sports got to know their ferrets and picked one each and named them, Lol David wanted to call his little Gill a boy’s name and call her Jim we talked him out of that he now calls her Flash as she is very fast.
A quick cup of coffee for Steve and Charlie after their long drive then we boxed up the ferrets and headed to one of my local farms, for me this was a very special time as this was the farm I started ferreting on fourty years ago with my Pappy/Dad and uncle Dave.
I could feel it in my water (as my Nan would say) this is going to be a magical day and I was not wrong I telle boys.
Alas we have not had any frosts here yet so the vegetation was still pretty thick and the stingers boy oh boy didn’t they bite, My Ole Dad always said after a hard days ferreting when his hands were stung and sore he could not wait to paunch out the rabbits as that always took the stinging away.
First warren and Steve’s dog Barney said bunny was home but we gave that warren a miss as it was a bit difficult to ferret with young sports, so I took them over to what I call rabbit alley and the mega warren.
There was a mix of open easy holes and harder ones on the raised hedge bank, So we taught the young sports first how to lay the purse nets on the ones that could be easily netted.
Then Steve taught them how to lay long nets and stop nets, They were taught how to collar up the ferrets with the Deben MK3 collars and locators Steve had with him, I still love my old MK1s with knocker box so I will teach them with those on another ferreting trip.
That done time to set the pugs (Ferrets) to work with the young sports entering a ferret each, Then that silence came over the warren I have written about this many times in my books so I will again here to do it justice.
The silence as you look around everything goes muffled and in slow motion as you strain to hear when the pugs (ferrets) catch up with the drummers (rabbits) deep underground and those Viking drums of war start, Then almost as you switch off a light switch total silence then like bullets from a gun rabbits start hitting the purse nets, How am I doing so far anyone who has been ferreting will know exactly what I am saying.
On my side young sport David is on the first rabbit like Johnny Wilkinson landing a try over the all blacks line with the rabbit in the purse all pursed good and tight in the net held in safe hands.
The voices from the other side as the young sports scramble with the running dogs as rabbits bolt into the open, Young Sport Jake narrowly missing a rabbit as it flips out of the long net as young sport Connor and the dog give chase as it jumps down and un netted hole.
Another rabbit bolts my side full throttle making it for freedom across the field as Young Sport Tyler is on its heels as it hits the long net, Tyler puts in a crunching tackle like Jason Robinson diving for the ball on our 25 yard line safe hands again.
I look back and see Young Sport David’s heels as he lands another great tackle on a rabbit that hits a purse net at the far end of the mega warren, Still more voices from the other side of the hedge rabbit in the net, rabbits bolting down the hedge line rabbits in long nets.
All rabbits humanely dispatched and all nets re-laid a calm ness came over the set as the ferrets came up and said there ya go boss we evicted them Coney (rabbit) none left down here, So we decided to call it a day ferreting boxing up the ferrets as it was 3pm and the light was starting to dip down.
We taught the Young Sports how to paunch out the rabbits and headed back to the trucks to get the air rifles and stand in one of my woods and try our luck on some roosting pigeon.
I must send a massive thank you to Andy for the cage and Steve and Charlie for the ferrets and cage and making the young sports season.
And as for me I can’t thank the boys enough for you have made me feel alive again, My passion for traditional ferreting runs deep in my veins and I truly never realised how much I missed those crazy little critter’s.
I was asked in an interview just recently if I had the power to save but one Fieldsports above all others if a total ban came in what would it be, I answered him before he finished the question and of course I said traditional ferreting, the interviewer said take some time to think ahhhh he did not know me well either my answer will always be the same one it’s how I started and how I will finish, I love all Fieldsports with a passion but none so much as traditional ferreting with ferret net and running dog.