The Pheasant & Partridge Review 2016/17
I think that most people within the shooting industry would agree that it has been a tricky year for pheasant shooting. The warm weather throughout the winter meant that pheasants were wondering and eating natural food all the way through the season. A large number shoots may have saved money on their feed bills, but also become thin on the ground by the end of the season in January having to reduce the number of days shot and bag sizes significantly. This said it hasn’t been the case for lots of shoots, we have had reports of shoots in Yorkshire having good seasons with excellent returns on their pheasants.
On the other hand it was a cracking year for Partridge shooting, the warmer drier weather suits our Partridges here in the UK and has meant that many number of shoots have seen excellent and record returns this year. With no real “cold snap” mortality rates throughout the season were minimal and good bags of partridges were still being produced in January. The Guns across the country also enjoyed shooting driven partridges in shirt sleeves until mid-November, which would normally be unheard of!!!
The flying conditions for pheasants were not good throughout the season with extended periods of still, warm and sunny weather with high atmospheric pressure. Unlike partridges this specific weather is known to be the worst weather to fly pheasants in and shoots across the country without the natural deep topography struggled to produce the quality of birds that they would normally produce in better years gone by.
Avian Flu has also been the topic of conversation as the season drew to the end in January. Migratory birds looked to be the issue, migration routes along the coast of the UK seemed to be the worst affected areas. Restrictions were put in place until the 28th February 2017 and following the previous patterns of the H5N8 strain, we would hope that once the ground dries up and the wildfowl move on there should be no issues going forward. Having said that, shoots and UK Game Farmers are looking to produce more of their “own stock” this year in case the UK does get cut off from its French suppliers of chicks and poults that our market so heavily depends on.
Overall the season was tricky, for both keepers and estates but interestingly we have seen a big increase in the number of teams and individuals wanting to shoot across the UK last season and speaking with shoots and agents across the country bookings for the 2017/18 season are busier than ever before, which is all symptomatic of increasing popularity of shooting in general.
We would like to raise the point of how important the consumption of wild game is moving forward and everyone who is taking part in our sport should be doing as much as they can to support the sport we love and to eat as much of the meat we are producing as possible throughout the season. We are always looking and pushing for new avenues for wild game to be readily available to the general public for consumption. A special mention is to the Taste of Game Charity, who are using shot game to feed thousands of homeless individuals across the UK and effectively saving human lives on a daily basis with their nutritional and tastey game meals!
We eagerly await next season, bookings are on the rise and our next report will be over the summer to ensure you are kept up to date with how the UK and Yorkshire’s Game rearing season has gone.