It's open season on rabbit and pigeon all year round. But for some quarry, there is a carefully-considered close season when it is illegal to shoot game or deer. This is essential to allow the populations to flourish, breed and move to different areas to feed and overwinter.

Here is our list of open seasons when you can go out into the field. (All dates are inclusive.)

grouse shooting

Red Grouse

England and Wales: Aug 12- Dec 10
Scotland: Aug 12- Dec 10
Northern Ireland: Aug 12- Nov 30

Common snipeCommon Snipe

England and Wales: Aug 12- Jan 31
Scotland: Aug 12- Jan 31
Northern Ireland: Sep 1 – Jan 31

grey partridge

Grey partridge

Grey Partridge

England and Wales: Sep 1 – Feb 1
Scotland: Sep 1 – Feb 1
Northern Ireland: Sep 1 – Jan 31

red legged partridge

Red legged partridge

Red-legged Partridge

England and Wales: Sep 1 – Feb 1
Scotland: Sep 1 – Feb 1
Northern Ireland: Sep 1 – Jan 31

Ducks in flightDuck & Goose

England and Wales inland: Sep 1 – Jan 31
England and Wales below high water mark: Sep 1 – Feb 20
Scotland inland: Sep 1 – Jan 31
Scotland below high water mark: Sep 1 – Feb 20
Northern Ireland inland: Sep 1 – Jan 31
Northern Ireland below high water mark: Sep 1 – Jan 31

golden plover

Golden plover

Golden Plover

England and Wales: Sep 1 – Jan 31
Scotland: Sep 1 – Jan 31
Northern Ireland: Sep 1 – Jan 31

coot

Coot

Coot/Moorhen

England and Wales: Sep 1 – Jan 31
Scotland: Sep 1 – Jan 31
Northern Ireland: Protected

pheasant

Pheasant

Pheasant

England and Wales: Oct 1 – Feb 1
Scotland: Oct 1 – Feb 1
Northern Ireland: Oct 1 – Jan 31
Isle of Man: Oct 1 – Jan 31

woodcock

Woodcock*

England and Wales: Oct 1 – Jan 31
Scotland: Sep 1 – Jan 31
Northern Ireland: Oct 1 – Jan 31
Isle of Man: Oct 1 – Jan 31

*In 2015 advice from the GWCT was to avoid shooting until the first full moon in November to allow wintering woodcock to arrive. Some shoots will ask you not to shoot woodcock at all.

No shooting on Sundays

  • Curlew are protected in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Jack Snipe are protected in England, Scotland, Wales but have an open season in Northern Ireland Sept 1 – Jan 31
  • No game may be killed or taken in any county in England and Wales on Sunday or Christmas Day. This applies to pheasant, partridge, red grouse and black grouse.
  • Orders prohibiting the shooting of wildfowl on Sundays still exist in almost 20 counties in England and Wales

The information above is correct at the time of writing but we would also advise a look at the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) website to check for further notes.