Wildfowling gives us the chance to experience some of the last wildernesses of Britain, to pitch ourselves against tides, winds, weather and the wildest quarry the UK has to offer.
- The UK has hundreds of fowling clubs
- All are happy to encourage wildfowling for beginners by taking you out on a flight to see whether you enjoy it or not.
- Wildfowling clubs membership fees are usually between £90 and £150 per year and with most (but not all) clubs this includes BASC membership
- Different clubs have different rules: some impose a bag limit, some have restricted shooting, such as no shooting between 10am and 3pm or only allowing shooting on certain days. Some insist on the fowler having a dog
- You usually have to complete an introductory season in which you cannot go out unaccompanied and you may have to do a quarry recognition course
- Most clubs also expect you to take part in various conservation activities
- A good place to start looking for clubs is through BASC’s wildfowling department
Safety when wildfowling
The foreshore can be a treacherous place and you should never take any risks. Every area has its dangers and unless you know the place thoroughly, always err on the side of caution. There are frequently quicksands, hidden gutters in which to twist or break your ankle and fog so thick you can’t see more than 3ft in front of you.
Tides are also a major consideration.
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The etiquette of wildfowling
- As with any fieldsport, proper etiquette must be observed.
- Be aware that other fowlers may have got there before you and leave at least a couple of shots distance between yourself and the next fowler.
- Some consider that a fowler who arrives late should turn around and go home, for they may disturb the wildfowl.
- If you haven’t built a hide, keep low and out of sight and don’t spoil others’ sport.
- If there is no bag limit, use your discretion apart from the fact that fowling is not about big bags, you will have to carry the birds back, often for some distance, and geese can be very heavy! Only shoot what you can and will eat.
Quarry and Recognition
There are plenty of birds not on the quarry list, which will be on the foreshore, so it is vital to get to grips with your quarry. This can only come through experience. If you are going out on a fine morning, take the time to study the species you see. Remember that sound is as important as sight on the marsh. Each goose and duck has a distinctive call and this will be a great help in identification. The silhouette of each species and its flight pattern are also a huge help in identifying birds.
Wildfowling for beginners – finding clubs
Here is a small selection – you can visit Wildfowling to discover your local club
There is fantastic sport to be had on the Humber and the Wash, and there are myriad clubs, including Fenland, Hull, Spalding and Kings Lynn clubs. Slightly further south there is North Kent, Blackwater and Little Oakley, to name but a few.
Both the west and the east coast have some spectacular sites for sport. In the west, Southport, Frodsham, Dee, Morecambe Bay and the Ribble are just some of the clubs you could visit, while in the east there are Northumberland and Hartlepool. Fowling in Scotland is often not affiliated to a club, but there are a few wildfowling clubs, including the Black Isle, Mid Ross and the newly formed East of Scotland.
The south coast has plenty to offer. In the east and central regions, there is Chichester Harbour, Langstone and Emsworth and heading further west there is Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Bridgewater Bay and Taw and Torridge.
Heading west, there are some great clubs such as Gloucester, Clevedon,
Carmarthenshire, Mawddach, Dyfi and Pembrokeshire and, in Ireland, Strangford
Lough, Lough Foyle and Wentloog.