SNARED BY A SHOOT

The physical components that go to make a driven pheasant shoot viable, are not always discernible from ground level.  In fact some shoots are inclined to deliberately make such factors indiscernible. 

 

Most people who visit this cottage, if they have not been told, have no idea that it is snared by a driven pheasant shoot.

 

The advent of aerial images, however, can sometimes, but not always, reveal aspects of a driven pheasant shoot layout; yet without knowing how a driven pheasant shoot works or the nature of pheasants, a patchwork of fields remains a patchwork of fields.

 

Pheasants are timid creatures. While they will venture out to open spaces to feed and enjoy the sun’s warmth on their backs, they have a great need when they are disturbed or feel anxious, to quickly hide, and will instinctively retreat to cover at the slightest sound or movement.

 

It is this aspect of their nature that shoots exploit to control pheasants.

 

Young pheasants (poults) are initially put into large 6 foot high netted enclosures called pens  (yellow on the map below) hidden in woods. After about a month they are encouraged to venture out, thus the appearance of motley looking pheasants round the cottage in September. 

A poult on the cottage roof - 4th September 2016

Gamekeepers then coax pheasants (with food) to venture further, and further, eventually to the places from where they will be startled into flying (flushed) on a shoot day.

A row of feeders north west of the cottage - 2nd March 2016

The cottage roof is visible behind the maize, spread food is visible on the ground, bottom right - 4th December 2018

To ensure the flushing places appeal to pheasants, plants which will remain upright through the winter and provide some food, are sown. As these crops (cover/game crops) are sown later than agricultural crops, buff patches of tilled soil indicate their location. 

red - cottage and garden, yellow - pens, green - pasture, dark green - trees, buff - cover/game crops

On shoot days, people and dogs disturb the pheasants. They drive them by making a noise with sticks, whistles and plastic flags, towards the cover crops.

A beater walks within feet of the garden boundary fence - 13 December 2018

A beaten pheasant flies towards the cottage - 17 November 2016

Beaters and Guns seen from an upstairs window  - 25 October 2018

When the people who shoot the pheasants (Guns) are in position, the pheasants are flushed into flight. Pheasants instinct to hide takes them to woods beyond and over where the Guns are waiting to shoot them. 

blue - beaters, yellow- beaten pheasants, cerise - flushed pheasants over Guns

The proximity of the drives to the cottage inevitably results in pheasants flying towards and over the garden.

Outside the kitchen doors - 17 November 2016

Across the lane - 27 November 2018

At the bottom of the garden - 18 November 2018

Therefore tempting the Guns to aim towards the cottage, causing the pheasants shot bodies to fall in and around the garden

Dogs retrieve pheasants, but they do not pick up the feathers too - 27 November 2015

On the lawn - 30 October 2015

Opposite the sitting room door - 28 January 2019

These are just a few, of the approximate two thousand released pheasants, which are seen like this year after year standing on the garden fence. 

Each is destined to be frightened into flight, then reduced to a plummeting ball of feathers falling through the air, which crashes through branches or hits the ground with a resounding thud: some will still be alive - they will be hit on their head or spun/wrung by their neck.

  • Twitter