Shooting, Hunting and Angling Seasons

T

he 'Game' means hares, pheasants, partridges, grouse, heath and moor game and black game but not rabbits.laws and traditions surrounding the taking of live quarry are complex. Most game animals need a time of year when they are left alone, to avoid unnecessary suffering and in order to keep numbers up. A system of seasons has evolved whereby certain animals cannot be taken at certain times of the year. For obvious reasons this can vary from species to species and from place to place.

These seasons apply in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales but may differ between countries (all dates are inclusive). However variations will occur so be sure to check locally before you shoot anything which might have a closed season. Shooting is largely restricted on Sundays and Christmas Day. Also note that whilst most of these are enforceable as laws, others are a matter of custom.

Those from abroad might also be advised to note that unlike in American English, 'hunting' and 'shooting' are two different things: this distinction can cause some confusion to those who are unaware of this.

More information is available from BASC.

Game Open Seasons

Species

England, Scotland and Wales

Northern Ireland

Pheasant

1 October to 1 February

1 October to 31 January

Partridge

1 September to 1 February

1 September to 31 January

Grouse

12 August to 10 December

12 August to 30 November

Ptarmigan (only found in Scotland)

12 August to 10 December

-

Blackgame (black grouse)

20 August to 10 December

-

Common Snipe

12 August to 31 January

1 September to 31 January

Jack Snipe

Protected at all times

1 September to 31 January

Woodcock

1 October to 31 January

1 October to 31 January

Woodcock - Scotland

1 September to 31 January

-

Duck & Goose - inland

1 September to 31 January

1 September to 31 January

Duck & Goose - below high water mark of ordinary spring tides

1 September to 20 February

1 September to 31 January

Coot/Moorhen

1 September to 31 January

Protected at all times

Golden Plover

1 September to 31 January 1 September to 31 January

Curlew

Protected at all times

1 September to 31 January

Hare (cannot be sold Mar 1st to July 31st)

Moorland & unenclosed land subject to closed season. Seek local advice.

12 August to 31 January

Sunday and Christmas Day

In England and Wales no game may be killed or taken in any county on Sunday or Christmas Day. Game for the purposes of this section means pheasant, partridge, red grouse, black grouse and hare. Orders prohibiting the shooting of wildfowl on Sundays made under sections 2 and 13 of the Protection of Birds Act 1954 still in existence are in the following counties (or parts of counties in existence before the 1974 local authority re-organisation): Anglesey, Brecknock, Caernarvon, Carmarthen, Cardigan, Cornwall, Denbigh, Devon, Doncaster, Glamorgan, Great Yarmouth County Borough, Isle of Ely, Leeds County Borough, Merioneth, Norfolk, Pembroke, Somerset, North and West Ridings of Yorkshire. In Scotland there are no statutory restrictions on the killing of game on Sunday or Christmas Day but it is not customary to do so. Wildfowl species may not be shot on Sunday or Christmas Day.

Deer Open Seasons

From the Deer Act 1991 (England and Wales)

Species

Sex

England and Wales

Northern Ireland

Scotland

Red

Stag

1 August to 30 April

1 August to 30 April

1 July to October 20

Hind

1 November to 31 March

1 November to 28/29 February

21 October to 15 February

Fallow

Buck

1 August to 30 April

1 August to 30 April

1 August to 30 April

Doe

1 November to 31 March

1 November to 28/29 February 21 October to 15 February

Sika

Stag

1 August to 30 April

1 August to 30 April

1 July to October 20

Hind

1 November to 31 March

1 November to 28/29 February

21 October to 15 February

Roe (not currently found in NI)

Buck

1 April to 31 October

-

1 April to 20 October

Doe

1 November to 31 March

-

21 October to 31 March

Red / Sika Hybrids

Stag

1 August to 30 April

1 November to 28/29 February

1 July to October 20

Hind

1 November to 31 March

1 November to 28/29 February

21 October to 15 February

Chinese Water Deer
(only found in England)

Buck 1 November to 28/29 February
-
-

Doe

1 November to 31 March

-

-

Muntjac has no statutory close seasons. The British Deer Society recommends that to avoid orphaning muntjac fawns dependent upon the mother's milk, only immature and heavily pregnant females (at which time a previous fawn will be independent) should be culled.

Other mammals

The following mammals can be controlled by legally approved methods all year round - see British Association for Shooting and Conservation for more information.

Angling Seasons

Angling seasons vary widely from area to area and even from river to river. Closed seasons are now largely a matter of local discretion or custom. It is always best to consult an official body for local information:

England and Wales
The local fisheries office of the Environment Agency. Any angler aged 12 years or over, fishing for salmon, trout, freshwater fish or eels in England (except the River Tweed), Wales or the Border Esk and its tributaries in Scotland must have an Environment Agency rod licence. Coarse fish close season - 15 March to 15 June inclusive. The coarse fish close season applies to all rivers, streams and drains in England & Wales, but does not apply to most stillwaters or canals.

Scotland
Local District Salmon Fishery Board (number in telephone directory), or alternatively FishScotland. No rod licence is needed. Note that there is no legal close season for rainbow trout, grayling, coarse or sea fishing, although some fisheries do not operate in the winter.

Northern Ireland
The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL)

Local angling shops are also a good source of information.

This page is derived from information supplied by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation.