The Countryman's Weekly


October 27
07:08 2020

Experiment with your drives!

By Tim Weston.

TWO years ago, my friend Paul Howard and I took on the sporting lease of a large estate in Wiltshire. The 4,500 acres is forested with over 90 per cent of the ground covered in trees which are mainly mature oak and beech. The ground covering is dense in bramble and in the summer bracken, and has public access throughout.

All in all, it sounds like really hard work. We inherited three pheasant shoots which, last season, we ran as they were to see what the lie of the land was. Without seeing a shoot in action in woodland it is quite hard to work out the best way of doing things, it all looks pretty similar to be honest.

The other thing to think about is the scale of the woods to drive and hold pheasants from. After the first couple of days and speaking to the retired gamekeeper we started to make a plan for this season. Paul has over 25 years’ experience as a full-time gamekeeper and we drew on that to help us create some new drives and adjust some of the existing ones that the syndicates had done in the same way for years.

There is nothing wrong with doing things the same way, but in the last 10-15 years the area has changed, in some cases dramatically. Unlike drives out of game cover on arable land which broadly remain the same, other than the possibility of a different crop around your cover from year-to-year, woodlands are ever-changing, albeit slowly.


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