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 gamecoverat 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.

Partridge shooting

Four steps to shooting partridges like a pro

Good partridge shooting is about giving yourself as much time as possible. When you watch a professional athlete performing at the peak of their powers, people often comment about how much time they seem to have compared with others. What you are noticing is the extra fractions of a second…

grey partridge

The key to a perfect partridge drive

British driven partridge shooting took over from walked-up sport that occurred in the 1700s, with the biggest bags being obtained from the 1850s onwards. These were predominately English partridges because, though the redlegs were introduced around 1770 by Lord Hertford and Lord Rendlesham to Suffolk, that bird’s popularity didn’t take…

beating on a shoot

Five key reads for the partridge season

Here are a few key reads on shooting red partridges in readiness for the season ahead. 1. Top 10 partridge shoots Testing sport in stunning surroundings – whether you’re off after hedge skimmers in East Anglia, high birds in the downs of Southern England or sky-high skimmers on moorland. Shooting…

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

The early results of the GWCT 2016 Partridge Count Scheme (PCS) has caused the organisation concern about chick survival success over the colder months. Sporting Gun writer Dr Roger Draycott, head of advisory at the GWCT, said that by taking part in its PCS and adopting certain conservation measures, farmers and keepers can help more birds survive the winter. Wild grey partridge rules for…

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…

picker-up

A September challenge for the picker-up

It’s an indication of my age that the first partridge I shot was a wild grey, walked up in barley stubble on the North Downs. Today, the M20 motorway cuts through the site where I shot my bird, and I’ve no idea whether any wild grey partridges can still be found in the area, close to Brands Hatch…

Fosseway Game

Fosseway Game: Partridge shooting at Sutton shoot, Warks

How can I start to tell you about 39-year-old Joe Smith, the current leaseholder of the Sutton shoot and owner of Fosseway Game on Manor Farm in the North Cotswolds? If I just described him as a father, a husband, a shoot manager or a game farmer, you might think…

Wappenshall partridge shoot

Partridge shooting at Wappenshall in Shropshire

Twenty years ago, I reported for Shooting Times on a then 350-acre Wappenshall partridge shoot in Shropshire, hard by the Wrekin, that 1,335ft hill which rises above and dominates the Shropshire Plain. Created by Jonathan Crow, whose father had farmed the land, the shoot was modest in size and devoted to both redleg and grey partridges. Once part of…

Drumlanrig partridge shoot

Drumlanrig: Partridge shooting in Dumfriesshire

It’s hard to know exactly what the grandees of shooting in the late Victorian and Edwardian era would make of the Whirlpool drive at Drumlanrig, or the Bothy for that matter. At the Whirlwind the guns are warned beforehand by unflappable Drumlanrig shoot host John Duncan and irrepressible headkeeper Rab…

Llandinam Shoot

Llandinam shoot: Pheasant and partridge shooting in Powys

Every time I get in the car to go shooting and the journey involves skirting around Welshpool, I know I am heading for some dramatic scenery and correspondingly good birds. This shoot is named after the village of Llandinam, which sits beside the River Severn as it meanders north-east through…

Pawton Manor partridge shoot

Partridge shooting at Pawton Manor, Cornwall

I was in Cornwall this summer and enjoyed the ferry ride across the Camel estuary from Rock to Padstow. The sun was shining, Padstow was awash with tourists, or ‘emmets’ as they call them in this Celtic corner of England, and the cash tills were ringing. I couldn’t help but…

Molland game shoot Devon

Pheasant and partridge shooting from Molland, Devon

Molland has long been recognised as one of the premier West Country shoots, so how are things looking this season? Molland is an estate that has been under the Bettws Hall branding for 11 years and it has been owned by the same family for 800 years. There are few…

Bowhill shoot, Scottish Borders

Partridge and pheasant shooting at Bowhill, Scottish Borders

Shortly before the first drive started, a sparrowhawk emerged from the highest cluster of oak trees and twinkled her wings in the bright sunlight. Against a cloudless blue sky, the little hunter passed directly over my head at a fantastic height, pausing once to wheel and turn before vanishing behind…