Here's what you need to know when you're shooting in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

The UK shooting season is carefully regulated to allow populations to flourish, breed and move to different areas to feed and overwinter.

Game birds and wildfowl can only be shot in certain months and the deer stalking season is also set. The time when quarry species are protected is known as the close-season and during this period it is illegal to shoot game or deer. (You might also want to check our guide to game shooting seasons in the Republic of Ireland.) The dates are set for practical management and conservation reasons and for the interests of the countryside as a whole.

However you can shoot rabbit and pigeon all year round – known as an open season.

Dates of the UK shooting season for game

pheasant

Pheasant

Pheasant shooting season

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

red legged partridge

Red-legged partridge

Red-legged partridge shooting season

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

It’s said that the partridge is the most English of gamebirds. However the red-legged partridge is not native to Britain and was introduced to East Anglia in the 18th century from France.

duck

It is illegal to use lead ammunition to shoot wildfowl

Duck & goose shooting season

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

 

moorland grouse

Red grouse

Red grouse shooting season

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

Common snipe

Common snipe

Common snipe shooting season

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

grey partridge

Grey partridge

Grey partridge shooting season

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

golden plover

Golden plover

Golden plover shooting season

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

 

coot

Coot

Coot/moorhen shooting season

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

woodcock

 

 

 

 

 

Woodcock shooting season*

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

*For the latest guidelines on shooting woodcock check the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) website here.  In fact, some shoots will ask you not to shoot woodcock at all.

Other things to remember about the UK shooting season

  • There is 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
Red deer

Open seasons for deer

Here is our list of open seasons for the various species of deer when you can go out stalking. (Dates…