The superlatives are not enough to explain how my last week in Switzerland has been.
Amazing,dangerous,eye-opening,stunning countryside coupled with the highest quality dog and team work that anyone will ever see.
This about sums it up.
Last Saturday I arrived in Elm,Switzerland.
It was time for the ISHV search.
After this week I am amazed and very glad that all dogs,handlers and judges came back alive.Never before have I seen tracking conducted in such terrain.
What an experience and what a stunning country.
Tracking can be dangerous to man and dog,factor in Mother Nature in all its glory along with wounded animals that skip along cliff edges and then perhaps you can imagine what I've witnessed this week.
I am very glad that I did not take my Pascha to represent UKSHA in Switzerland.
I know my dog and his strengths and weaknesses.
Strengths-chasing and sharpness,very powerful on track.(all weaknesses in the mountains)
I understand completely now why BGS were bred originally.
If I were tracking in Switzerland like many of my friends there,I too would have a BGS.
The responsibility for the organisation of the 35th ISHV Search fell on the Swiss clubs shoulders.
All that can be said is the SSC bore the weight,in fact,the SSC shrugged the weight off and Leo and the team excelled in everything at the event.
It was very very well organised from a real family feeling club.
I am privileged to have a few very good friends from Switzerland.
Marcus,thank you for all that you did for myself and congratulations on your performance with your BGS,top work from a very experienced and knowledgable tracker,a more humble man you will not meet.A pleasure meeting your good lady as well.
Klaus and Karolina,brilliant seeing you again Klaus and a pleasure meeting you Karolina.
SSC really did a brilliant job.
Leo has great members helping keep the club in the correct direction.
A perfect ISHV Search.
Down to the real work.
I was over again as a trainee judge,in the hope I would witness a few main tests.
This we did.
In Switzerland,the laws and regulations regarding hunting are very restricted.
The season is only 3 weeks long.In some states it is only permitted to hunt on a few days through the week.
I think that Switzerland has to have some of the most restricted hunting rules in the world.
Honestly,personally,I was doubtful of enough work for a Search,I could not have been more wrong.
The Swiss had work,work aplenty.....in areas that most struggle to walk.
2 hour walks to the shot site were not uncommon.Then the tracking would begin,sometimes nothing hit,sometimes a short track with a dead animal,sometimes a long track with a chase in terrifying terrain.
We in the U.K.,have it easy.
I followed Uwe(KBGS representative)and Hans(Belgian representative) on the first day.
Uwe and Catweazel had an easy search for a start,a red hind shot in the gut.
The animal had went around 250m and was found dead,however,the shot site took around 30minutes to find as the place we were told it was at,was over 150m in another direction.
This again stresses the importance of marking the shot site.
Catweazel searched the area well and we took the line and found the animal.
Hans and Haiko were up next.
The area we were going to filled me with dread.
You know you are in trouble when the Swiss guys apply crampons to their boots.
Up the side of a mountain with 1000m sheer drops whilst driving up(at least not so long a walk)
We parked the cars at the top and then proceeded to climb into the clouds.
The views were stunning.
Hans and Haiko took up the shot site,this was a stag shot further back again.The hunter had shot 2 at the shot site,one was recovered and dragged over the track.
Never before had the Swiss hunters in this area shot stags as high up they said.
Haiko took Hans to a sheer 300m drop where the stag had turned right and went down into a gulley,Haiko found the animal 400m down the slope dead.
The day after I was following Uwe and Catweazel again.
In a steep gulley the shot site was again contaminated,around 200m from the high seat,the hunter had shot 3 animals,2 were dead and one which we were called to track.
The 2 that were dead were gralloched right on the shot site.
Catweazel took a line and we found blood,the red hind crossed a river numerous times,small amounts of blood was being found by the dog and we continued for 5km,Catty was released-a chase for 10km ensued before Catty came back.
Uwe decided he wanted to continue on the leash,for another 5km.
We never caught up with this animal,Catty had bayed it twice but the animal was in a group of 3 and kept breaking past the dog.
This animal had only a flesh wound it was presumed.
Within the ISHV Search,luck is also needed to get good tracks.
Uwe and Catweazel are amongst the best teams that I have watched and did not get the luck on the tracks even with exemplary performance.
They found a gut shot red stag a day later,the stag actually turned out to be a hind,the animal having been wrongly identified by the hunter.
Found in the river 350m further on dead.
The real exciting tracks and terrain were on Chamois.
I had also attended meetings on one of the days to discuss the common goals and aims of the ISHV,this years meetings were very positive with a new Board having been voted on.
Our Verein Hirschmann Chairman Jürgen Schlüter is the ISHV Chairman with Leo of the SSC as 2nd Chairman.
On one of the evenings,there was a Church Service in respect to St.Hubertus,the patron Saint of hunters.
First time I have seen such a thing and it was especially nice to see the utmost respect shown by all at the service.
As a stalker and tracker it was another nice aspect of the week,showing respect to the dead animals.
The last evening was another great night.
The atmosphere,food and camaraderie was excellent.
Even the dogs were catered for
14 different countries all talking the same language and pulling together because of the work and breeding of our dogs.
A new full member was also announced,well done to Sweden.
The winning team was announced and Hungary won with a very experienced team and an amazing track in difficult terrain.
Ferenc is an experienced handler and I first saw them work last year at Knüllwald,this year it was their turn.
7789 was the winning score.
The first 9 I have seen presented to a team.
The Hungarian team had 1.8km on leash on a red stag hit low in the leg,then 1km chase and the dog bayed the animal until it was dispatched,all this in serious terrain.
Brilliant work from a very nice guy with a great dog.
Ferenc also had a great track earlier in the week on Chamois.
Marcus and his BGS were next to the Hungarians,so Switzerland second.
Marcus had 2km on leash on a red calf hit in back leg,400m chase,bayed and despatched.
Marcus also had tracks on Chamois earlier the week
Third came our Verein Hirschmann entrant.
Martin and Landor are a brilliant team.
Like Uwe they had no luck in the Search at all,a brilliant team that were not getting the tracks.
The very last day,Martin and Landor got a track and a chase on a red deer and completed and dispatched the animal.
From all of the competitors,judges,participants and friends of the ISHV to the SSC.
A big thank you and well done for hosting such a stunning event.
I look forward to seeing you all again soon.
At the next Search,I'm sure that UKSHA will have a bigger attendance.
Waidmannsheil,Suchenheil and Ho Rüd Ho from all at UKSHA.