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Farlows Guide to the UK Shooting Season Dates

Shooting Season Dates
Posted in: Shooting

The start of a new shooting season dawns on the Glorious 12th of August. Guns are unlocked from their cabinets, given a clean and a polish, and prepared for the first days' sport. Tweeds and technical clothing for the first day of the season are dug out, and boots checked for leaks!

The opening day of the season always brings with it a great sense of excitement and anticipation as we wait and see what lies in store for us. While the 12th of August (or the 13th if the 12th falls on a Sunday) might mark the start of the season, different gamebird species all have their own season dates to keep in mind. Here they are:

UK and Isle of Man Gamebird Seasons

Red Grouse Aug 12 - Dec 10 (England, Wales, Scotland)
Aug 12 - Nov 30 (Northern Ireland)
Aug 12 - Oct 31 (Isle of Man)
Ptarmigan Aug 12 - Dec 10
Common Snipe Aug 12 - Jan 31 (England, Wales, Scotland)
Sep 1 - Jan 31 (Northern Ireland, Isle of Man)
Grey Partridge Sep 1 - Feb 1 (England, Wales, Scotland)
Sep 1 - Jan 31 (Northern Ireland)
Red-legged Partridge Sep 1 - Feb 1 (England, Wales, Scotland)
Sep 1 - Jan 31 (Northern Ireland)
Sep 13 - Jan 31 (Isle of Man)
Woodcock Sep 1 - Jan 31 (Scotland)
Oct 1 - Jan 31 (England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man)
Golden Plover Sep 1 - Jan 31
Duck & Goose Above the high-water mark Sep 1 - Jan 31
Duck & Goose Below the high-water mark Sep 1 - Feb 20
Sep 1 - Jan 31 (Northern Ireland)
Pheasant Oct 1 - Feb 1
Oct 1 - Jan 31 (Northern Ireland, Isle of Man)


If you need assistance getting kitted out for the shooting season please don't hesitate to email us, call us on 0207 484 1000 or visit us in-store.

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Have you accepted the invite? And is your host expecting you (and your well behaved dog)? Shoot days aren’t crashable events like parties someone clearly meant to invite you to, or weddings that you happen to stumble into.

Your host, sporting agent or the shoot itself should provide you with directions to the meet point. Don’t assume it’s the farmyard, shoot room, doorstep of the owner’s house or pub. Do ask if you haven’t received them a week before the shoot date. And find out what time you’re expected. With those two pieces of information, you can calculate how long it will take to get you there, and the best way to take at that time of day. Be sure to take into account rush hour as most shoots start at 9ish. On shoot days, if not in life in general, it’s better to be two hours early than five minutes late.

Is this a BYO affair or a fully catered event? Your host will know, and it’s always best to ask so you can prepare appropriately. A growling tummy on the peg is a distraction to you and your neighbours!

Cartridges are another thing to check with your host about: knowing the bag expectation will help you decide on how many slabs to pack (again, err on the side of caution and pack way more than you could ever use). Most shoots now insist you shoot with fibre wads (more agriculturally and environmentally friendly). The shot size, however is up to you and your personal preference. I pack 7s for early partridge and move to 5s for late season pheasants. Knowing a little about your destination and the kinds of birds it shows will help in your cartridge selection – are 28 gr loads going to be ample, or should you pack the big boys for a day of eye-wateringly high birds?

Never let it be said that I shy away from the difficult topic, and tipping is certainly one. Will Hogan covers it in his excellent guide to shooting etiquette and it's often a divisive subject prone to opinion, many people still adhere strictly to £20 per 100 or part thereof. Personally, I take the view that a tip should reflect your enjoyment and the effort you perceive the keeper and shoot staff to have put into making your day a memorable one. Sometimes, a day blighted by weather or other vagaries of shoot days outside the control of the keeper, means he has to work harder just to show an average day. For me, those are the days when I tip to reflect my appreciation of their effort.

Once you know the predicted size of the day, you’ll have the outline information necessary to calculate how much cash you’ll want to withdraw from the cashpoint. If you will be enjoying the services of a loader, make sure you have the cash to tip them as well. Your host should be able to advise you what is expected.


I like to pack the car the night before…except the dog and gun, of course. While gents at Farlows are on hand to advise you with regards to appropriate attire and the myriad of individual choices, I like to be sure I have:

  • Two coats – nothing is worse than putting a wet shooting coat on after lunch.
  • Wellie boots and walking boots – so my feet are comfortable whatever the weather and ground conditions turn out to be on the day.
  • Waterproof trousers - for the obvious. Tweed is great for all but the most torrentially wet of days.
  • Hearing defenders and spare batteries (if yours require them).
  • Sunglasses – low winter sunshine can ruin a drive for you if you’re without.
  • Cartridge bag.
  • Gunslip (assuming you’re travelling with your gun in a hard, lockable case).
  • Dog lead, whistle, screw (if your dog needs one).
  • Dog bowl and water.
  • Refreshments for you as required (see above).
  • Gun cleaning kit – I’d like to claim I was a paragon of virtue on this front, but I’m not. I carry it primarily to deal with barrel blockages, but should use it for immediate post-shoot wipe downs.


On the morning of the shoot, having woken before the alarm, I’ll pack the last few items that I can’t leave in the car overnight:

Pack guns (I carry a spare having had one too many terminal breakdowns on the peg. Not everything can be fixed with bailing twine, cigarette lighter springs (great temporary ejector springs) or cable ties.

DO be careful when you leave home, friend’s house or hotel that you’ve taken everything you need for the day the first time you shut the door behind you. We all intend to tiptoe out silently as dawn breaks. Having to beat down the door to wake your hosts so you can retrieve your gun or missing an entire day’s sport waiting in a pub car park for the breakdown service to liberate your car keys from the pocket of your shooting coat…in the locked boot of your car, is not the ideal way to start a shoot day.

If spouses, significant others or cheering sections are welcome or invited on the day, make sure you’ve let your host, agent or shoot know whether you are plus one or not so they can cater for the right numbers. And dress your additions appropriately (the Farlows team can advise). There’s nothing worse for your shot to kill ratio than a cold/hot/hungry peg mate!

2021-08-06 09:39:00
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