In the UK, shooting and hunting are quite popular outdoor activities but hunters must respect the hunting laws.
You cannot hunt or physically harm any animal beyond a particular season, and the hunter must have licensed firearms or weapons.
You must have the landowner’s consent before participating in any hunting activity. While hunting term is used for the animals, the word shooting is used for ground-breeding birds.
The prohibited season is usually the breeding season of these birds and animals.
Best Shooting Seasons in the UK
#1. Deer Hunting and Stalking Season
Roe, Fallow, and Red deers can be hunted in the UK, Wales, North Ireland, and England. A roe deer is a mid-sized, slender deer without any tails and has small antlers. A male roe is often called a buck. A fellow deer has a pale brown body color with white spots, a white-colored rump patch (black lines over it), and a white-colored tail. The red deer is big-sized. While the female red deer is known as a hind, the male is known as a hart or a stag.
While Fallow Buck can be hunted in the UK from 1st August to 28th February, Fellow Doe can be hunted in England, North Ireland, and Wales from 1st of November to 28th of February. Fallow doe can be hunted in Scotland from 21st of October to 15th of February.
Red stag hunting season in Wales, England, and Northern Ireland is from 1st of August to 30th April, while in Scotland it is from 1st of July to 20th October.
Red hinds can be hunted in Scotland from 21st of October to 15th of February, while in England, North Ireland, and Wales the hind hunting season is from 1st of November to 28th February.
The Roebuck can be hunted in England and Wales from 1st April to 31st October, while hunting of Roebuck is allowed in Scotland from 1st of April to 20th October.
The roe doe hunting season in Scotland is from 21st of October to 31st of March, while in England and Wales it starts from 1st of November to 28th of February. Apart from these, Muntjac, Sika, Chinese water deers, and other hybrids are also available for hunting.
Sika hinds are available from the 1st of November to the 31st of march in England and Wales while the 1st of July to the 20th of October is the Sika stag hunting season for Scotland. In Northern Ireland, it is from the 1st of August to the 30th of April.
The hinds can be hunted from 1st of November to 31st of march in Wales and England, while in Scotland it is from 21st of October to 15th of February. North Ireland allows Sika hind hunting from the 1st of November to the 31st of March.
You can hunt Muntjacs all year round.
As per the hunting laws of the UK, you must be a licensed hunter to shoot at night. You cannot use any other weapon except licensed firearms to kill a deer.
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#2. Game Bird Shooting Season
Coot shooting season for the UK is from 1st September to 31st January, while you can hunt Curlew in Northern Ireland from 1st of September 31st of January. Duck and goose shooting is allowed in Northern Ireland (foreshore), Wales, England (inland), and Scotland from 1st of September to 31st of January.
Grouse hunting in North Ireland is allowed from the 12th of August to the 30th of November, while in Wales, England, and Scotland, the season starts from the 12th of August and lasts up to the 10th of December. Pheasant hunting in Northern Ireland starts from 1st of October to 31st January, while in England, Wales, and Scotland it’s from 1st of October to 1st of February.
Ptarmigans are found in Scotland and can be hunted from the 12th of August to the 10th of December. Jack Snipe hunting season starts in Northern Ireland from the 1st of September to the 31st of January, while the moorhen can be hunted in the UK from the 1st of September to the 31st of January. Quail can be hunted in the UK throughout all seasons. The bird hunting season takes place when there’s a surge in the population of the birds.
Wood Pigeon can be hunted in the UK throughout all seasons.
Hunting birds meant for prey doesn’t require a license, however, a falconry license is required to hunt the wild birds (meant for falconry).
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#3. Hare Hunting Season
You can hunt rabbits, mink, grey squirrels, mice, weasels, and stoats in the UK throughout the year, following the UK hunting rules and regulations.
Gears required for deer stalking/hunting
- Deer hunting rifles
- Sufficient ammunition
- Range Finder, Riflescope and binoculars
- Other shooting equipment
- Roe sack to carry the gears
- Drop-point skinner knife
- Proper clothing
- Insulated and snug fit boot
- First-aid kit
Gears required for game bird shooting
- Goggles for night sight
- Artificial light
- Weapons like 3-cartridge guns or other semi-automatic weapons
- Firearms for bird shooting during roosting
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Shooting Restrictions in the UK
You cannot hunt/shoot pheasants, hare, partridge, red grouse, or black grouse on Christmas eve or Sunday.
In North Ireland, there’s no restriction unless Christmas falls on any Sunday. Hunting is not allowed on Sundays in the Isle of Man, but there are no festive restrictions.
In Guernsey, shooting is prohibited on Christmas or Sunday, while in Jersey, bird-killing is not allowed on Good Friday, Christmas, or Sunday. There is night shooting restrictions in most of the counties in the UK.