Whatever one’s view on shooting may be, there is no doubt that it is an integral part of country life and much of the beautiful English countryside has been shaped and landscaped over the years with the management of game in mind. Shooting is important to the rural economy, providing income and employment whilst for many it is also intrinsic to the cultural and social fabric of rural life.
Whilst the origins of hunting, shooting and fishing was all about providing food for the table, this is of course not it’s primary purpose although the ‘produce’ resulting from these activities is still highly appreciated. As has been the case for centuries, the means of achieving the end, is what it’s all about.
In Wiltshire and its neighbouring counties there are several large commercial, run for profit, estate shoots employing specialist gamekeepers and attracting the rich and famous from around the World, some of whom have ended up buying country properties with shoots or rural homes which are close to good shooting. A couple of A List stars come to mind who have bought homes in recent years near our Tisbury based office for this reason.
In contrast, for many farmers and landowners, shooting is carried out on a more informal basis, perhaps with a syndicate of friends putting down a few birds every year for a bit of social sport. Alternatively for some, shooting could just be one man and his dog bagging a rabbit or a brace of pigeon for the supper pot.
The creature most often associated with shooting is of course the common pheasant. The handsome iridescent autumn colours of the cock bird are seen everywhere in the country, frequently squashed on our lanes! Roughly 35 million birds are released each year of which around 15 million end up being shot. Grey partridge at one time were the most popular sporting quarry but their numbers have plummeted since the introduction of farming herbicides in the 1950’s which led to the disappearance of weeds inhabited by the insects that they relied on for their diet.
Shot in lesser numbers are waterfowl, mainly ducks (usually mallard) but also woodcock and snipe whilst grouse shooting is a more exclusive sport limited to the moors of Scotland and Northern England.
The game shooting season controls when in the United Kingdom shooting is permitted and depends on the type of species being hunted with slight regional variations. The pheasant shooting season is from the 1st October to February 1st, whilst the shooting of partridge starts a month earlier but finishes at the same time. Probably one the most famous dates on the calendar is the 12th August, the start of the red grouse season and known as the Glorious Twelfth, it ends on the 10th December.
When it comes to mammals, rabbits and hare can be shot throughout the year except on moorland or unenclosed land whilst the shooting of deer depends on the variety and whether the animal is a stag or hind. Although not common in our part of Wessex, there is no close season currently for wild boar although best practice recommends avoiding killing a sow with dependent offspring.
Whether you shoot or not, Rural View are established specialists in the sale, letting and management of country, village and market town property and can be contacted on 01722 716895.