A few things you need to get clear before you start
How many acres is the shoot?
There should be enough drives to accommodate differing wind directions and enough land to ensure the estate is not pillaged weekly by every team that pitches up. If there aren’t enough acres, it could have been shot out over Christmas and the month of January could be dire.
How many days in the season?
Discover whether your day will be one of 85 similar days, all but three let to roving teams, or one of only three in a season of 10 days, of which the remainder are shot by the owner’s family or home syndicate. Average bag size is important, for it immediately sets the tone of the owner’s confidence and helps to manage your expectations. If the new shoot regularly turns in 300-plus bags, from early partridge to late pheasant, then it will probably show you a nice 200-bird day.
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How much will you be charged?
Start the discussion by knowing what bag your team would like but be a little flexible. Never lose sight of the fact that it costs the owner as much to run a 150-bird day as a 400-bird day, and listen attentively. Try to negotiate if you feel you must but once a figure has been arrived at, strike the deal. Included in this negotiation will be how you are billed by the new shoot and when, so that you can arrange your cash-flow to accommodate or make a counter offer if your team members pay in differing instalments and times.