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What You Can Shoot and in Which Season

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Shooting can be a rewarding sport, but for everyone to keep enjoying it’s important to respect the rules that are in place. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an experienced game hunter, or new to the sport; you need to abide by the regulated seasons for different quarry species, to ensure that hunting is kept in good repute. To that end, it’s good to have a knowledge of open and closed shooting seasons for wildfowl, gamebirds, ground game and deer.

The difference between an open and closed season is huge, as shooting certain species out of season is illegal and can lead to prosecution. Intriguingly, it is also illegal to hunt on Sundays and Christmas day, but this has traditionally been put down to religious reasons and giving farmers a break from the noise.

So keep yourself in the know and have a read of our shooting seasons below. Please note: These dates and rules apply for England and Wales, but may differ in Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands


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Gamebirds such as Pheasant, Partridge, Grouse and Snipe are all available to hunt in open season from autumn to early winter time. But if it’s Grouse in particular you’re looking to shoot then you have one date to remember: the 12th August, known by game shooters as ‘The Glorious Twelfth’.

Flushing out game is the most traditional hunting style, employing the services of Gamekeepers Beaters and Pickers-up, as well as trained dogs to find the birds. The season for each gamebird is listed below:

Pheasant – October 1st – February 1st

Partridge – September 1st – February 1st

Grouse – August 12th – December 10th

Snipe – August 12th – January 31st


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Ducks and Geese are often shot by waterfowlers around the same time and season as gamebirds. The only exception is Canada geese that can be shot all year round, as long as you have a general licence issues by a government agency.

Waterfowling is generally separated into occurring below the high water mark (coastlines, lakelands, rivers etc.) or above the water line (fields and places where certain species feed). The dates for open season are listed below:

Duck and Goose (Inland) – September 1st – January 31st

Duck and Goose (below high water mark) – September 1st – February 20th

Ground Game

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Ground game consist of Brown Hares, Mountain Hares normally found in Scotland, and Rabbits. There is actually no closed season for the Brown Hare and Rabbit, but only on the condition they are hunted within occupied land, rather than moorlands or unenclosed land, where it is illegal for half the year. Mountain Hares however, have a fixed open season in Scotland. The details are listed below:

Brown Hare and Rabbit (Occupied land) – January 1st – December 31st

Brown Hare and Rabbit (Moorland or Unenclosed land) – December 11th – March 31st

Mountain Hare – August 1st – February 28th/29th


Image from Wikipedia

There are many different species of deer residing in the UK, all with different open seasons that have been outlined by the appropriate governing bodies. These species include Red, Sika, Fallow, Roe, Chinese Water Deer and Muntjac.

Stalking regulations separate the male Stag or Buck and the female Hind or Doe when it comes to their open seasons but these time periods do overlap. For more information, we’ve listed the details below:

Red, Sika (Stag) – August 1st – April 30th

Red, Sika (Hind) – November 1st – March 31st

Fallow (Buck) – August 1st – April 30th

Fallow (Doe) – November 1st – March 31st

Roe (Buck) – April 1st – October 31st

Roe (Doe) – November 1st – March 31st

Chinese Water Deer (Buck) – November 1st – March 31st

Chinese Water Deer (Doe) – November 1st – March 31st

If you need any more advice on hunting seasons, equipment or clothing, feel free to pop into Keen’s Tackle and Guns or get in touch using our contact page here.