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About Wildfowling

For specific advice on wildfowling matters please contact the wildfowling department on 01244 573 011 or email

BASC’s wildfowling department works to ensure a guaranteed, sustainable future for responsible wildfowling in all its diversity.

Wildfowling is the pursuit of geese and ducks, often on estuaries and coastal marshes. It is mainly a solitary sport requiring considerable stamina and patience as it takes place during the winter months in wet, muddy and often cold conditions.

The main quarry are wild geese and ducks which mostly migrant from the Arctic Circle, Scandinavia and the Low Countries in the autumn before returning to their breeding grounds in the spring. Their habits are governed by tide, wind, weather and the moon. 

Generally, geese fly to their feeding grounds at daybreak and return to roost far out on the mudflats at dusk. Ducks usually come in at dusk to feed and spend the night on the pools, returning to the mudflats at dawn.

A wildfowler needs to be able to identify legal quarry species in poor light and difficult weather conditions. Often, despite many hours spent on the marsh, they may not fire a shot. When they do, it is important that they has a dog to retrieve the bird from the mud or water. An intimate knowledge of the coast is a prerequisite to this sport. The inexperienced wildfowler can easily be cut off from the land by the twice-daily tides or become disorientated by the sudden descent of fog.

BASC’s wildfowling department is responsible for maintaining contact and working with roughly 140 dedicated wildfowling clubs and currently more 9,000 individual wildfowlers from BASC affiliation. The department provides pivotal support in developing wildfowling policy and manages, organises and contributes to a wide range of skills to ensure a guaranteed, sustainable future for responsible wildfowling.

The department oversees the BASC Crown Estate foreshore lease and management plan programme. They act as agents assisting with consent applications to allow the continuation of wildfowling over protected sites. The department promotes best practice and maintains regular contact with wildfowling joint councils, statutory agencies, public bodies and other stakeholders.

Avian Influenza Update

BASC is advising members that following routine monitoring, outbreaks of Avian Influenza have been confirmed in the UK. It has been reported that H5N8, a strain of Avian Influenza, has been detected in wild and captive birds.


Mallard Duck Nest Tubes

BASC and the Waterfowlers’ Network are monitoring the breeding success and usage of duck nest tubes. We are calling on members and the wider shooting community to make, erect and record usage of nest tubes, in the hope we can improve breeding success across the species’ flyway.

Related News

Wildfowling Liaison Committee

The Wildfowling Liaison Committee (WLC) was established to advise BASC Council on all policies relevant to wildfowling and to support liaison between BASC, individual wildfowlers and wildfowling clubs.

WLC representatives are chosen as respected members of the wildfowling community by the Chairman. Each member should be approachable and able to feed back on matters of importance. 


For specific advice on wildfowling matters please contact us by email.


Starting out isn’t as difficult as you might imagine.

Wildfowling is a Marmite sport. You’ll either love it or hate it, but it is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. The beautiful sunrises and the myriad waterfowl make up for the small bag sizes.

The BASC Wildfowling Permit Scheme booklet is produced every year and has details from clubs across the country who joined an initiative to get more people out on the foreshore.

There are permits available from as little as £10 and a member of the club will accompany you to ensure you have the best possible introduction and, most importantly, stay safe.

Check out the BASC wildfowling page for more details, or give the department a call to register your interest on 01244 573 011.

The WLC members are hand-selected by the chairman of the WLC. The chair is appointed by BASC Council and they will always be a serving council member.

A good cross-section of the wildfowling community is needed for the committee to be truly effective.

WLC members can be contacted by email on or you can liaise with them directly at club meetings or events throughout the year.

James Green – Head Of Wildfowling

Chris Wright – Wildfowling Officer

You can contact us by emailing

If you have any concerns regarding severe weather, please refer to the BASC website. This will be updated daily during periods of adverse weather.

After seven days, BASC will be calling for voluntary restraint based on the projected forecast.

Our recommendations are there to help inform your decision to shoot or not.

At 14 days there will be a national suspension. This information will be communicated through daily updates on the BASC website, through BASC Fast Tracks emails, social media accounts and press releases.

Further information regarding the suspension of shooting wildfowl can be found here.

This is a really easy process. Follow the steps below:

1. Search for “BASC Green Shoots Mapping” in your chosen search engine or click here to go directly to the page.

2. Click on Go Mapping.

3. Log In to the page using you BASC member ID and password.

4. Go to the Bagged It option.

5. Click on Visits. This will automatically take you to your club’s information page showing the areas your club has authority to shoot over.

7. Pick the relevant area and click on Add a visit.

8. Simply fill in the relevant details of your trip. Date / flight time / hours spent on the shore / shots taken / quarry recovered.

9. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Save and return to my visits.

At the end of the season remember to submit your return to your club’s returns officer for review.

If you’re ever unsure or having issues, drop us a line on 01244 573 019.

Ammunition choice will depend on the gun you are using and the quarry. Some guns are not suitable for steel ammunition be it through age, material or choke restriction. Bismuth or Tungsten would be the best recommendation.

Standard steel ammunition may be shot through a non-steel proofed gun but there are only a few standard steel loads available. Click here to read guidance and fact sheets from BASC’s firearms team.

High performance steel ammunition can be shot through steel proof shotguns. You can find this by looking for the “fleur-de-lys” proof marks or its barrel markings that state the barrels are steel shot proof.

Steel ammunition has improved massively over the last decade and ballistically it has proved itself more than capable for the job. Remember the rule of thumb about upping the size of the pellets by two to allow for the pellet density difference between steel and lead.

You should always pick the cartridge to suit the quarry i.e. shot size three or four for duck and three, two, or one BB for geese. Wherever possible always choose a biodegradable wad.

There are quite a few types of chokes on the market and several ways they work.

The most common after-market chokes work in one of 2 ways. Either

 a) Standard constriction choke

 b) Wad grabbing choke.

Standard constriction works by tightening the pattern of shot in the gun barrel over the last few inches causing the pellets to group together and pattern density to increase.

The more the restriction the tighter the pattern. Loosely speaking the following rules apply.

40,000 of 1”   = Full choke

30,000            =3/4

20,000            =1/2

10,000            =1/4

0                      = Cylinder

Wad grabbers work by either using a mechanical restriction (a ring of studs grab the expanded base of the wad for a fraction of a second allowing shot to leave unhindered by gas or wad) or gas restriction to slow the wads down by a fraction of a second in the shape of channels similar to rifling in a barrel. As the wads reach the required area in the choke. The channels fill with gas and slow the wads allowing again the shot to leave unhindered by gas and wad. This then causes a shorter denser pattern giving greater pattern penetration at greater distance.

Remember pattern test your gun and ensure you shoot with its and your abilities.

No not at all. It really depends on where you are going and the quarry.

There is ammunition out there for all guns and configurations so you won’t need to buy a new gun, at least to start with.

For those of you with only 23/4” chambers, use Bismuth or Tungsten in the appropriate shot size for the quarry you seek. If you are using the BASC permit scheme, a friendly ‘fowler may lend you a more suitable gun for the flight.

There is definitely equipment that will make you more comfortable when wildfowling. Take a look at our What to Wear when Wildfowling blog to find out more.

The Wildlife Habitat Trust is made up of three trusts.

  1. The Wildlife Habitat Trust lends money to BASC clubs, syndicates and members to enable land purchase for shooting and conservation purposes.

2. The Wildlife Habitat Conservation Stamp Trust administers the merchandise and annual stamp programme.

3. The Wildlife Habitat Charitable Trust (WHCT) grants money for conservation projects for the benefit of migratory wildfowl.

The WHCT is a charity and is therefore regulated by The Charity Commission. In granting money, the WHCT trustees will need to be satisfied that the aims and objects of the WHCT are being met, and are of public benefit.

Any club interested in grant funding can find more information on the WHT website.

You may also wish to speak to Paul Williamson, BASC’s head of land management and also secretary to the WHT trusts.

Shooting out of season can take place but only under the relevant General Licences. Depending on which country you are in (excluding Northern Ireland) determines the General Licence you can use.

Although legally you do not have to have a copy with you, you must ensure that you have read and understood the General Licence and that your actions comply with the terms.

Links to the licences can be found on the BASC website: –



Scotland is        

Northern Ireland          You cannot shoot Canada geese outside the shooting season which is 1 Sept – 31 Jan.

Make sure you are working to the current General Licence rules and remember they get renewed annually.

Open/shooting seasons for wildfowl (ducks and geese) are listed below: –

  Wildfowl in England, Wales and Scotland on the foreshore – Defined by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as “in or over any area below the high-water mark of ordinary spring tides”   *(excluding Isle of Man)      1 September – 20 February
  Wildfowl in England, Wales and Scotland inland – Defined by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as “anywhere above the high-water mark of an ordinary spring tide”   *(excluding Isle of Man)    1 September – 31 January
  Wildfowl in Northern Ireland anywhere    1 September – 31 January
  Isle of Man    1 July – 31 March

Attention should be paid to ensure that the correct pellet size is used relevant to the quarry species sought, this is to ensure there is enough energy available to penetrate to the vital organs – The bigger the pellet the more energy available.

The size of shot depends on what shot type you are using e.g. if you are using steel then you should not be using any shot smaller than a number 3, (that is number 2, or number 1, and BBs).

The decision as to which shot size cannot be made on energy alone, you need to ensure you have the necessary pattern available i.e. enough pellets inside a 30” circle to ensure the vital organs are hit if you are on target. The pellet count required for geese is minimum 55 pellets of size 3 or larger in a 30” circle.

A steel proofed gun will be required to use High Performance (HP) steel cartridges with a shot size 3 and above as they are considered high velocity and cannot be used in a standard nitro proofed gun. Ensure you check the ammunition packaging for designation of standard or HP.

Other ammunition types such as standard steel loads, bismuth, tin, tungsten and copper can be used through a non-steel proof gun. For further information about alternative shot types please refer to the fact sheet here.

It is not illegal under The Wildlife and Countryside Act to shoot Canada geese with an air rifle or either rimfire/centrefire rifles.

However, you will need to ensure you have the authority to do so listed on your firearms certificate conditions. i.e. for the shooting of Canada geese, pest birds, or any lawful quarry or similar must be stipulated.

If your firearms certificate does not have the necessary condition, then you cannot shoot them with the rifles listed on your certificate.

Rifle shooting of geese is not sporting and should only be used as a control and management method in a safe area with relevant safety zones and backstops in place.

The shooting of Canada geese with an air rifle, although not illegal, is not recommended on welfare issues.  

Lead shot restrictions do not apply to rifle or air rifle shooting of wildfowl.

Some counties do not allow the shooting of wildfowl on a Sunday. If this applies to you then you cannot shoot on a Sunday even if you are shooting under the terms of the General Licence. The byelaws for shooting on a Sunday take precedence over General Licences.

Scotland and Northern Ireland do NOT allow shooting of wildfowl on a Sunday!

Below is a list of counties that do NOT allow Sunday shooting

  • Anglesey
  • Brecknock
  • Caernarfon
  • Carmarthen
  • Cardigan
  • Cornwall
  • Denbigh
  • Devon
  • Doncaster
  • Glamorgan
  • Great Yarmouth County Borough
  • Isle of Ely
  • Leeds County Borough
  • Merioneth
  • Norfolk
  • Pembroke
  • Somerset
  • North and West Ridings of Yorkshire

For more information consult the fact sheet by clicking the link.

(Sunday Shooting fact sheet)

This depends on whether the boat is under power or not. If an engine is being used, then this would be an offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. Section 5 (e).

If the boat is being paddled by hand or powered by wind, then no offence would have taken place.

You can shoot geese from a stationary boat with an engine on but not in immediate pursuit.

In England and Wales, the lead shot regulations ban the use of lead shot over all foreshores, specified SSSIs, and for the shooting of all ducks and geese. This applies even if you are shooting under the terms of the General Licence.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the use of lead shot is only permitted away from sites designated as wetlands.

For more information click the Scottish legislation below.

No, you cannot. Section 5(d) The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 prohibits certain methods of which sound recording is included.

Northern Ireland

On Sundays, Christmas Day or during the period commencing one hour after sunset on any day and ending one hour before sunrise the next day, it is illegal to shoot game birds and wildfowl.


Wildfowl and waders may not be shot on Sundays or on Christmas Day.

England and Wales

Before the passing of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, orders prohibiting the shooting of wildfowl on Sundays were made under the Protection of Birds Act 1954. These orders have not been rescinded, so shooting cannot take place in the following counties/part counties on Sundays:

  • Anglesey
  • Brecknock
  • Caernarfon
  • Carmarthen
  • Cardigan
  • Cornwall
  • Denbigh
  • Devon
  • Doncaster
  • Glamorgan
  • Great Yarmouth County Borough
  • Isle of Ely
  • Leeds County Borough
  • Merioneth
  • Norfolk
  • Pembroke
  • Somerset
  • North and West Ridings of Yorkshire

The restrictions relate to the exact location of the shooter. Our guidance that if there is any doubt at all of your position, you are better off not shooting in the area on a Sunday.

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