The pheasant forms the backbone of both driven and walked up game shooting in Scotland today.
Native to Asia and the extreme south-eastern tip of Europe, the pheasant has been widely introduced across Europe and North America. It was known to the Romans, who may have introduced it to Britain. The Normans certainly kept it to supply food. It naturally adapts to a broad variety of habitats. In the UK they are usually found in woodland, hedgerows, field margins and open farmland with adjacent cover. Large numbers are reared and released into managed woods well before the shooting season starts, and provide sport for many days’ shooting, both large and small. Pheasants that are shot make excellent eating and are widely available at butchers and supermarkets. The habitats managed for them are valuable for a wide range of other wildlife species and enrich the countryside.
1 October – 1 February
The grey partridge is a British ground-nesting bird which inhabits grassland, arable farmland, hedgerows and field margins.
Its habitat has been under pressure from changing farming practices over the last century. Wild grey partridge have declined over time and so are actively encouraged through land management on many shoots and are the focus of concentrated conservation efforts within the shooting world. Shooting is part of that management and takes place if there is a sustainable surplus. The red-legged partridge is now common throughout Scotland and is reared on many shoots, adding a different sporting target and quarry diversity to traditional driven shoots. A recent addition to some Scottish estates has been the rearing of partridges on heather moorland offering driven shooting on the open hill. The increase in rearing of red-legged partridge for driven shooting has also provided more opportunity for the walked-up shoot to produce a mixed bag. The red-leg is also known as the French partridge or “Frenchman”, possibly an old military reference, because of its red “trousers”. Its habitat is similar to the grey, chiefly open farmland. The red-legged partridge has proved more adaptable than the native species to modern farming practice.
1 September – 1 February (31 January NI)