?The time to buy bargain shooting for next season is now,? a spokesman from BASC said.

?I would caution anyone against sitting on their hands in the hope that prices will fall. On the whole, shoots? prices are already as low as they can be.?

Sporting agents are warning that Guns need to commit to shooting for next season.

Roxtons? director of shooting, John Duncan, told Shooting Times magazine that though he has seen good demand from his US and European clients, there has been a definite reduction in demand from UK-based clients.

?This is quite understandable in the current climate as people are hurting financially and redundancies are commonplace. However, we know there are people waiting to book shooting because they feel there will be deals to be had later in the year. Having recently spoken to numerous estate owners all over the country, this is just not going to be the case as they are planning to cut their poult orders and rearing programmes to fit the amount of days they have sold so far,? explained Mr Duncan.

He added: ?Decision time for estate owners is fast approaching and they will have to make some tough calls, which could lead to further redundancies, so we are asking clients to let us know their final thoughts now, even if the answer is no. At least owners will then be better placed to make the appropriate commitments for the year ahead.?

Mark Merison, of Strutt & Parker?s sporting agency, said: ?Yes, there was some cheaper shooting to be had last year, but that was because the credit crunch hit when the birds had already been put to wood for some time. Some Guns were then forced to pull out at the last minute, which resulted in a limited amount of shooting at discounted prices. But this year?s circumstances are completely different.?

He added: ?We all need to rally together to support the shooting industry during this difficult economic climate.?

One City worker, who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed: “The rumours of Guns holding off are true. Some are waiting to book their shooting only a few days in advance and many are waiting to see what evolves in the coming months before booking the rest. This is driven by the hope that prices may come down and also by the lack of certainty for the future with regard to remuneration and jobs.”

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