Finally, some good news. Most gameshooting will go ahead.
A survey of more than 800 shoot owners, manager and gamekeepers across YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook by Fieldsports Channel finds that 61% of pheasant shoots are going to happen, 21% are mothballed and 18% are yet to make up their minds.
It’s the crucial time when shoots have to order birds for the season ahead, so decisions are being made now.
Fieldsports Channel survey results
Total responses: 801
Yes: 483 = 61%
No: 172 = 21%
Don’t know: 146 = 18%
Twitter: 59 votes
Yes: 27.14 = 46%
No: 8.26 = 14%
Don’t know: 23.6 = 40%
Instagram story poll: 5 votes
Yes: 3.3 = 66%
No: 1.7 = 34%
YouTube community: 334 votes
Yes: 150.3 = 45%
No: 63.46 = 19%
Not sure: 123.58 = 36%
Facebook: 403 votes
Yes: 303 = 75%
No: 100 = 25%
The figures are in line with earlier surveys. at the beginning of April 2020, the British Game Alliance asked 332 shoots about their intentions and 70% said they would go ahead. In mid March, GunsOnPegs asked 132 shoots and nearly 60% were still undecided.
The BGA asked member shoots what their plans were and 70% said yes, they would be out and have been preparing for it. Out of the 332 members who responded, 25% said they were “running a full shooting calendar”, with the rest planning “a reduced operation”. It said there was “an average drop of 35% in numbers of birds being released”.
At the end of March – the crucial time of the year when shoots confirm orders for poults with game farmers – GunsOnPegs asked 132 shoots what their intentions were. Of these, 27 said they are definitely shooting, 31 are definitely mothballing for a season, and 74 were yet to make up their minds.
GunsOnPegs’s Chris Horne recently told Fieldsports Channel’s Charlie Jacoby: “Mid-April is the latest shoots can make this decision and it’s basically one big vicious circle… The game farmers have tightened up their terms from what they require from shoots because they obviously don’t want to be left with a bad debt. The shoots are obviously having to ask the guns for the money and naturally the guns are hesitating because it’s a pretty awful bet to be making to be putting thousands of pounds down now when the upside is a fun day out, the downside is losing the whole lot.”
There are anomalies in the two sets of figures. BGA’s undecided and cancelled shoots come to 30%, while GunsOnPegs’ cancelled shoots alone comes to 24%. If the BGA survey is true for GunsOnPegs’ shoots, half of GunsOnPegs’ undecided shoots have decided to go ahead in the last two weeks, 16% of the undecided shoots decided to cancel and 32 percent remain indecisive.
We’ve covered how the coronavirus crackdown may affect shoots here. The BGA’s survey is more optimistic. BGA admits shoots and shooters are, “likely to feel the strain of the uncertainty around how long these measures will be in place,” and praises the fieldsports community’s positivity.
In the BGA survey, grouse moor shoots appear largely unaffected, with 90 percent saying they will go ahead, though with later start dates.
Only 18% of the shoots the BGA asked said they were not sure whether they would be out. One in eight – 12% said they would not.
Large commercial shoots “have taken a big hit in days booked”, the BGA says, but medium-sized shoots seem to be the worst affected. Private and syndicated shoots “are pushing ahead”, it added.
Watch the Chris Horne interview here: