2018-19 Season Review

by John Duncan

We don’t think we could say that the 2018-19 season was a classic! It’s been well documented that the detrimental effects that the ‘Beast from the East’ and the dry summer had on grouse numbers although early concerns about cover crops not growing due to the dry weather, were unfounded.

We did manage a few days on the moors around the country, although significantly more days were cancelled than took place. Whilst guns were disappointed to miss out on their sport, we must remember that it is even more disappointing for keepers, beaters, pickers-up and hoteliers who all missed out on the camaraderie that a shoot day brings, along with crucial revenue for the rural communities.

Partridges around the country were as good as ever and many guns made up for a slightly later start than usual, with extra days later on, to complement their season.

Whilst the early pheasant days were a success, many shoots struggled to hold onto their birds due to the mild and bright weather and an abundance of wild food. This meant many birds wandered all over the countryside. Disease and, in particular, mycoplasma in pheasants, is becoming an issue for many shoots, so estates need to keep improving their game bird husbandry, look at stocking densities and working closely with their game farmer in order to make sure best practice is continued and followed at all times.

The thorny issue of dead game was also another major talking point last season, and we are delighted to continue to support Tom Adams and his team at the British Game Alliance (BGA). Whilst it is still early days for them and not everything has been perfect, they have done a tremendous amount so far and we firmly encourage everyone who runs a shoot or shoots to support the BGA. We will again be including a voluntary donation of 50p per bird to the BGA on our shoot invoices for next season and would like to take this opportunity of thanking everyone who supported this initiative last season.

Tim Woodward and his team at the Country Food Trust have also done amazing work and we are delighted to continue to be Corporate Sponsors of this organisation.

We would also encourage everyone to be members of the Countryside Alliance (CA) , the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and either the National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO) or the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA). These organisations all do a tremendous job in promoting and protecting the sport we all love.

Another hotly debated topic last season was cartridges and fibre wads. We firmly believe that all plastic wads should be banned by the shooting community and encourage all shoots and guns to do their bit by ceasing to use plastic.  We will be continuing to police a full ban on plastic wads on all of our shoots.

Looking ahead to next season, we would say that demand has never been as strong for the best and most exclusive estates in the UK. Many shoots are already reporting that they are fully let so please do contact us as soon as possible if you’re still looking for a day or a gun during next season.

In the meantime, a huge thank you to everyone for their efforts and dedication in creating many happy memories for all those involved in shooting during last season.