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How to get shooting permission

Finding your own land to shoot on is tough - the first farmer or land owner will say someone already does it, the next person doesn't agree with pest control, and the third has a syndicate that you have to pay for but maybe you can't afford (or don't want to pay - we spend enough as it is on cartridges, kit and fuel as it is, right?!)

There's been many times I've had to bow and scrape and offer gifts to people over the years to make sure I keep shooting permission, and to be honest it's been worth it. But how do you go about getting shooting permission in the first place? Read on to see what I do...

1 - Find some land on Google

Might sound obvious, but it wasn't to me! Nobody has taught me this, it just popped into my head one day and it's what I've done ever since - and it works for me.

Decide what radius you are happy to travel from home. My old permission (that I still have access to) is a good 45 minute drive from me. I decided I wanted to find shooting permission within a 20 minute drive maximum. So I had to start from scratch, in my usual old fashioned approach - simply turning up on people's doorsteps asking to shoot isn't always the best option when you look like me!!

So I checked the map for land near me. I changed the settings to show the satellite image, then pick maybe 3 or 4 areas I'll visit during the hour that I'm happy to drive around.

Bear in mind - you must be respectful of any land you're driving around. Don't drive down private tracks or try to go through gates. Often you can view most areas of land from the main road without need for venturing off road too much and risking trespassing. As long as you have your binoculars with you....

2 - Take a drive with your binoculars

When driving around your chosen land, it's a good idea to take binoculars. What you're looking for are crops that look damaged, or crops with a lot of activity on them (lots of pigeons/crows sitting in the field or lots of birds flying over them and/or dropping in, a 'flight line'). It's also worth taking your thermals if you're looking for deer/rabbits instead. Most fields are at least 50 acres in size, and if you have several back to back you won't be able to see this activity with the naked eye. Once you have identified if there is crop damage, how much and where, you need to make a note of these fields - I save them as a pin in a private list on Google maps.

3 - Search for nearby farms and get contact details

Once I have established the land, I search for the nearest farms in that area. I then start ringing around - I've even been known to pop into a pub to ask the staff if they knew 'who owned Manor Farm', which resulted in a phone number being given to me! I will then call the land owner or farm manager, introduce myself and name drop anyone that they may know in the local area that I have spoken to - but just be honest if there's nobody you know! Explain you're new to shooting/new to the area and are looking to get your own permission, then tell them you have spotted land with a lot of activity that needs controlling and ask if they are willing to meet you to discuss.

At this point they might say no as they already have someone, or they may ask you which land it is. You can then talk them through your pin points - the last time I did this I found out that the land did not belong to that farmer, but I was given the name of the farmer it did belong to, which made my search a lot faster.

If you are new to pigeon shooting or pest control in general, I would recommend buddying up with someone a few times before your first outing to get the hang of what you're doing and to know what kit you need.

You can also use this information to pass on to the farmer if you need to; "I've shot on XXX farmers land with XXX for 3 months if you want to check my credentials".

Once the land owner or the person with shooting rights has decided they are happy to discuss further, you'll need go to and meet them so that they can drive you around their land or just give you their crop maps, explaining any problem spots, access information such as gate key codes and letting you know about any other people you can expect to see on the land who also shoot there. Make sure you take your shotgun/FAC licence and insurance details and dress appropriately - remember, you are offering your services as a pest control person, you are not on a fashion parade and likewise you don't need to turn up like you just finished on the marsh...

4 - Set a schedule

To begin with, your land owner will want to ensure they are happy with you before leaving you to do your own thing. This may mean only letting you go out the once, asking you to go out with someone they know, only shooting on one area of land or only one type of pest; or it may involve a schedule. For instance; some farmers have staff/keepers that keep an eye on the land 5 days a week, so they may only need you at the weekend. Or, they may want you to commit to heading out several times a week. Whatever you agree on, make sure you can set aside that time in your diary to head out for the first couple of months, even if it's only for a couple of hours each time.

Always report back to the farmer/game keeper about:

- when you're planning to go out and whether you did or didn't go; we all have emergencies crop up from time to time

- where you set up

- which direction you were shooting in, in case they wants to know which crop you were shooting over (harvest purposes)

- any issues such as incorrect gate codes, sticky locks, stray dog walkers or strange vehicles, any injured animals etc.

- flight lines of any pigeons that didn't land in your pattern, or areas where other game were doing damage that you didn't manage to shoot, so they know where to put the bangers/gas guns/flags etc. You'll be doing them a great favour and it could be the start of a wonderful pest control relationship - plus they'll be happy to recommend you to any new land owners you may find, and be that reference you need when you're renewing your licence in 5 years time...

What methods do you use to find your own shooting permission land? Feel free to comment below to help others, or contact me if you have any questions that have arisen from this subject.

Good luck and happy shooting!

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Jul 17, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

This is really helpful advice!

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I hope you're enjoying reading my blog! I'm not an expert, I only wish to share my personal experiences, of someone who did not grow up in the countryside nor enter the hunting world in the traditional way.

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