DIY Shoot/Gamekeeping Diary

Are you new to gamekeeping or run a DIY shoot? This diary could be the resource you’ve been looking for. The handy top tips and monthly to-do lists will help small DIY shoots and keepers plan their year and prepare for the season.

For further advice, or to discuss any of the points above, please contact your BASC regional office.

February is all about planning. Despite the end of the season, it’s a very busy month for shoot management. Last season was difficult for many, and with Covid restrictions still in place usual plans may need to be adapted or altered.

Top tips

  • Continue feeding across the shoot well into the end of April/May.
  • Take a quick trip around your shoot with your notepad and make a list of those jobs.

On your shoot jobs

  •  Collect feeders and equipment not in use to ensure the shoot is tidy.

  • This early planning also allows you to discuss the placement of cover crops for next season with the farmer.

  • Ensure your lease is up to date and in place for next season.

  • Ensure consent is in place on areas that require it.

  • Top off some of the remaining cover crops in sections or flatten them to provide additional feed for the remaining birds.

  • Increase the amount of pest and predator control across the shoot to ensure wild birds have the best chance of breeding.

  • Now would be a good time to also have an annual syndicate meeting, perhaps virtually, to discuss scenario planning and potential covid restrictions in the coming year.

  • Look at any woodland or habitat improvements that could be made before the nesting season begins.

For any further advice, or to discuss any of the points above, please contact your BASC regional office.

March is often the time for keepers to take some time for themselves and the family. While many jobs remain important, it is a more suitable time to wind down a little and maybe even squeeze a holiday in – if you are allowed to!

Top tips

  • Continue feeding across the shoot well into the end of April/May.
  • Get all the shoot’s equipment and vehicles serviced and checked over.

On your shoot jobs

  • Continue any woodland, and other habitats management, before nesting season.

  • Liaise with your game cover supplier to ensure ground is managed correctly to give the plants the best chance of getting established.

  • Any cover crops will need to be worked down in preparation for drilling. Consider crops which will benefit not only the released birds but all the other wildlife in the area.

  • Order birds from supplier. Game suppliers may require a deposit up front so ensure the shoot has finances available.

  • Contact your game bird vet to ensure you’re still registered with them and advise them of the plan for the year ahead.

  •  Continue pest and predator control.

  • Remember to renew the shoot insurances.

For any further advice, or to discuss any of the points above, please contact your BASC regional office.

Although April is a relatively quiet month for jobs on your shoot, perhaps members could consider how they can demonstrate what the shoot brings to the area in terms of environmental benefits?

Record keeping will not only benefit the shoot but also help demonstrate biodiversity net gains to a wider audience. Have a look at our Green Shoots Mapping programme.

Top tips

On your shoot jobs

  • This time of year corvids are pairing up and becoming territorial, so keep an eye out for nest sites and opportunities to get on top of them.
    • Continue feeding across the shoot well into the end of April/May
    • Inspecting the condition of any release pens and planning as to whether they need repairing or replacing.
    • As the ground starts to warm up now is the time to be making those final preparations for cover crops
    • Draw up a work schedule for the syndicate and those involved for the coming months.
    • Get the syndicate together perhaps virtually to discuss final decision making for the season ahead in light of the potential Covid-19 restrictions in the coming year.

For any further advice, or to discuss any of the points above, please contact your BASC regional office.

With the abundance of natural food available now that Spring is well under way, you may find less activity around the feeders across the shoot.

With many ground nesting birds establishing nesting sites, ensure your pest and predator control is maintained throughout this period.

Top tips

  • Preparation should be well underway for the arrival of chicks if you are rearing your own.
  • Keep an eye on the weather for the optimal time for drilling those cover crops and make sure you are in constant communication with the contractor undertaking the work.

On your shoot jobs

  • Pheasant release pens need to be prepared before the arrival of the poults, and to reduce disturbance to nesting birds.  
  • Clear any fallen trees from the fences and ensure the electric fence is free from debris. 
  • Maintain communications with your specialist seed supplier, consider using crops that may benefit a wide array of species.
  • When going round the shoot keep an eye on any new plantings that may be susceptible to damage from rabbits, deer etc.
  • Continue feeding across the shoot well into the end of April/May.
  • When setting the coming season shoot dates ensure locals and other interested parties are aware. Setting the dates early will also allow beaters, pickers up etc. to book the days off work.  
  • Order feed for the coming season, both pellets and wheat. Try to source the best feed available, and the cleanest wheat.  

For any further advice or to discuss any of the points above please contact your local BASC regional office.

For most shoots June is a busy period in the rearing calendar, with many shoots looking to take birds from the field to wood. Getting things right at this stage will really help to ensure birds hold well and are fit and healthy.

Top tips

  • Make final checks to release pens ready for birds arriving.
  • Consider working your dogs through the pens to ensure they are pest and predator free. Once pens are clear ensure electric fence is working well to deter predators.

On your shoot jobs

  • Ensure all feed and drinking equipment within the pen has been disinfected and thoroughly cleaned.
  • Ensure feeders are in a position where birds can find them easily and topping them up can be convenient.
  • Flush through the drinking system in release pens to ensure water is clean and fresh.
  • Consider the delivery of the birds;make sure you have enough help on hand to ensure the birds are released as quickly and as stress-free as possible.
  • Keep an eye on your establishing game covers, especially for pests that may impact on its growth.
  • Those shoots that are putting birds to wood should consider a rota to ensure birds are checked regularly.
  • Keep an eye out for any wild broods and remember to keep records of other wildlife seen across the shoot.

For more advice or to discuss any of the points above please contact your local BASC regional office

July is when we start to see the weather warming up and activity building across the countryside. The farming and shoot calendars are eventful for many throughout the month, with birds either set to be released or those already released starting to leave the release pen.   

Top tips

  • Keep an eye and ear open for any signs of sickness or illness in the release pen and ensure your vet is close to hand if required.
  • With crops starting to be harvested, consider getting out with the lamp or thermal to bring the foxes down to a sustainable level.

On your shoot jobs

  • Once the birds are in the pens, leave them for a couple of weeks to get settled then gradually leave the gates open or lift sections of wire to encourage them to explore.
  • Ensure the release pen has both food and water outside so those birds that are starting to wander and explore are well looked after.
  • As birds start to come out of the pen and begin to head out across the shoot, begin to walk them back to areas of the shoot where you want them to be. As the birds become stronger and start to fly, look to introduce a dog to assist.
  • Make sure quality food and fresh water is consistently available to birds as they begin to expand their range across the shoot.
  • Birds will need to be strong and well advanced by the time the season starts. As a rule of thumb, birds should be 22-24 weeks old prior to shooting starting.

For any further advice or to discuss any of the points above please contact your local BASC regional office.

Presenting driven pheasant over the guns for best results

Countryside workshops

Mapping your shooting, recording your bag and wildlife with BASC's Green Shoots Mapping