red legged partridge

Red legged partridge

There is something very English about partridge shooting over stubbles in autumn.

French (red-legged) partridges over hedgerows, tree belts and small valleys or even gamecover at ground are exciting and each brings their own challenges.

partridge shooting

Safety is always your first priority as a Gun. Shooting traditionally presented partridges brings its own risks and different situations to look out for. Once on your peg, make yourself aware of where your neighbours are, and if you draw a peg where you have a dividing hedge, make sure you know where the Gun is located on the opposite side.

Flushing partridges

Pickers-up will be way back, but with lowland shooting you may not have a clear sight because hedgerows or belts of trees could mask where they are standing. If this is the case, check with your host or keeper so that you know their location. If you can see where they are, acknowledge them. It is courteous to let them know that you know they are there.

  • Walk to your pegs quietly. Partridges are nervous birds, especially later in the season. If they hear noise they will not hang around.
  • Do not start shooting at pigeon before partridges have started to fly the line, and look out for the young hen pheasant through September. They are often mistaken for partridges in the early season, and mainly on the higher partridge shoots, but it is not uncommon for one to be misidentified in the heat of the moment.

Mark Heath, instructor at the West London Shooting School advises: “Don’t forget that good foot work will enable you to finish the shot correctly. Be careful not to over lead the bird as usually they are not moving as fast as you think. I always remind students to try and stay calm, and focus on the shot in hand. It is also important to fully concentrate on the bird to ensure you keep your timing. This will result in a skilled, clean shot rather than a shot involving skill and chance combined.”

Labrador retrieving partridge

Top tips on shooting partridge and bird selection

  1. Focus and concentration during the drive is vital. If you don’t stay alert, you will get caught out. Don’t worry about who’s shooting what; focus on your peg and your zone. So many Guns get caught “ball-watching” only for a covey to come over the line. What follows is poor bird selection, if any, complete panic, bad timing, a rushed shot and then an inevitable miss.
  2. When coveys start taking on the line of Guns, look through the covey, not at the whole covey. If you focus on a point in the covey, you will naturally be drawn to your first bird. Once you have selected your bird, do not change your mind unless the shot is suddenly unsafe. If safe to do so, shoot the first bird as early as you feel comfortable. This will then allow you to move to your second bird. Don’t think right-and-left; concentrate on shooting the first bird cleanly and then you can worry about the second.
  3. Make sure you address the covey and your selected bird correctly. Hold your muzzles relative to the height of the bird, just below its line. This, in turn, will enable you to mount your gun smoothly on to your chosen bird. Always keep your head still and focus on the selected bird — focus and a solid connection to the bird are what give you smooth timing. Do not hesitate — believe in what you see. The fear of missing is a terrible thing, so shoot with confidence. Make sure you watch the bird fold so that you finish your shot properly.
  4. Footwork is the building block to any shot, but with traditional partridges don’t start dancing around. Too much movement will make too much of the shot and cause all sorts of problems, resulting in missing the line of a bird and poor connection to it. Move your feet before you make the shot so that there is no moving and mounting.
  5. Practice is essential, as with any sport, but make sure you practice partridge shooting under realistic clays that represent speed and angles. You should choose a shooting ground that offers coveys so that you can develop bird selection. Gaining tips from an experienced game Shot and instructor is always valuable.

photographs of partridge days

First days of the partridge season

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Partridge shooting

Four steps to shooting partridges like a pro

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grey partridge

The key to a perfect partridge drive

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beating on a shoot

Five key reads for the partridge season

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red legged partridges

Practise on clays for the partridge season

If you have a day on partridge 
in your diary, you should at least try to go to a good clay ground a few times before or book a lesson or two with an instructor who can help you brush 
up on your skills. This does wonders for your confidence,…

grey partridges

Golden rules for wild grey partridges

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red legged partridge

Getting up to speed on partridges

There is something very English about shooting partridges over stubbles in autumn. Once, the majority of driven shooting in England was partridges; not the French red-legged variety but our own beautiful English, or grey, partridge. Modern agriculture in the 1980s sadly had a huge effect on the stronghold of the grey, but there are committed landowners and farmers out there…

partridge shoots

Top 10 partridge shoots

Whether they are presenting classic East Anglian hedge skimmers, high birds in the chalk downs of southern England or sky scraping birds off the moorland fringe, the one thing they all have in common is testing sport in stunning surroundings. Drumlanrig, Dumfries & Galloway  This famous estate holds the mantle…


A September challenge for the picker-up

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Fosseway Game

Fosseway Game: Partridge shooting at Sutton shoot, Warks

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Wappenshall partridge shoot

Partridge shooting at Wappenshall in Shropshire

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Drumlanrig partridge shoot

Drumlanrig: Partridge shooting in Dumfriesshire

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Llandinam Shoot

Llandinam shoot: Pheasant and partridge shooting in Powys

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Pawton Manor partridge shoot

Partridge shooting at Pawton Manor, Cornwall

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Pheasant and partridge shooting from Molland, Devon

Pheasant and partridge shooting from Molland, Devon

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