Given that the Partridge Shooting Season started over six weeks ago, I am not sure whether that we are still early season! However, relatively few pheasants have yet been shot on most Shoots, but with the recent cooler weather and the leaves now scattering to the four winds, pheasants will soon become a larger part of many Shoots’ bags.
This has been a mixed autumn although most people will think that it has until very recently been one of good weather. Surprisingly August in the North of England was the wettest since 1993, followed then by a fantastic September. This was a very dry month which whilst not ideal for farming, produced some wonderful early season days’ shooting of blue skies and warm temperatures. The only disappointment was the lack of any significant wind to give those early season partridges that extra fillip they sometimes need, particularly on flatter ground. William Powell Sporting started early on in the month in the South of England as well as in Northumberland and Southern Scotland. Generally it was a good harvest and so in most areas (the exception being parts of Yorkshire and Northumberland), cereal crops were off early and in the main game crops have grown well this year despite the dry summer. The only ones that we have seen that are particularly poor are where they were drilled late or the ground preparation was inadequate.
Perhaps the most surprising thing is that despite the dry summer (think back to 2012), there has been a significant amount of disease around, particularly in partridges this year. Mycoplasma and Blackhead have been particularly virulent. Lots of theories abound as to why this is, but realistically now with ever larger game farms, it does seem impossible to prevent these diseases from coming with the birds and all keepers accept nowadays that they need to be spot on in monitoring their birds after delivery as immediate treatment is often the only solution. Once your partridges or pheasants are released, it becomes incredibly hard to do anything to control game bird diseases.
The weather has now turned although not got particularly cold yet, but the aftermath of Hurricane Gonzales has brought with it quite a lot of rain. The long range weather forecast for the end of October suggests that this weather pattern is going to continue, particularly in the North, with the South faring better. However, Frost is forecast to be quite widespread particularly in the North and there is lots of wind to come to make those birds even harder to hit! Everywhere we have been, partridges seem to have grown well this summer (probably because their energy has been spent growing rather than surviving any wet weather) and this definitely results in much better flying birds.
Pheasants too are now all coloured up and most have good length tails. Wandering doesn’t seem to have been anything like the problem it was last year as there is less beach mast, acorns and berries about.
Overall, the prospects look good to excellent for the coming season!
We hope it is a good one for you.
William Powell Sporting