For many shooters the start of the partridge season has been delayed as a result of the late harvest.

Cutting wheat has been held back by up to two weeks in many areas of the UK due to the deluge of late-summer rain.

“The harvest has been stalled by up to a couple of weeks, depending on where you are in the country,” said NFU chief crops adviser, Guy Gagen.

He added: “We are only about halfway through harvesting the wheat crop and farmers are spending a great deal of money in bringing in crops as quickly as possible.”

The wet weather has forced many sporting agents to cancel days.

Roxtons’ director of shooting, John Duncan, told Shooting Times that several partridge shoots have had to delay days due to the late harvest: “This is a real issue in the Home Counties, where arable farming is prevalent.”

Howard Day, of sporting agents www.outsidedays.co.uk, said this year has been extremely worrying for a lot of gamekeepers: “I offer partridge shooting on seven different estates, four of which have had to cancel days. One shoot in particular, which has 2,000 acres of arable ground, still has more than 1,500 acres to be combined. There is also concern about releasing birds into standing corn. Though I wholeheartedly agree with the Code of Good Shooting Practice, it takes a very brave gamekeeper to wave goodbye to his birds into fields of wheat and have no idea what they are up to. Who knows how many foxes are waiting just beyond the first tramline? There is also the concern that the birds seem to walk down tramlines and end up lost.”

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