Pheasant shooting in the Scottish Borders

Pheasant shooting is available from 1 October to 1 February

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Pheasant shooting in the Scottish BordersThe common pheasant is widely found in the south of Scotland and the Scottish Borders (particularly in the Moorfoot, Moffat, Lowther and Lammermuir Hills). The birds originated in Asia and the Far East, an modern male pheasants commonly have chestnut, brown, green and black markings on their body and tail, a dark green head with a red face, and long tail feathers. However there are a large number of variations. Female pheasants are more uniform in colour, being a paler mottled brown, and are smaller than the males. Pheasants feed mainly on cereals and seeds together with some insects, and can be found in a large variety of habitats - woodlands, hedgerows, scrubland and shrubby wetlands.

Archaeological information suggests that pheasants were introduced into Britain by the Romans but were only really common from the 15th Century. At that time they were mainly bred for the table, but may also have been hunted by trained hawks. As fireams developed in the 1700's they became more widespread in sporting terms and by the 1800's they were firmly established as a hunted quarry in Scotland - "flying shooting".

That said, grey partridges were still the quarry of choice and by 1900 pheasants accounted for only approximately 15% of the bag shot. As modern game shooting developed many different subspecies of pheasant were intensely interbred by sporting estates and gamekeepers, giving a mixture of various racial types and different strains. Grey partridge numbers have dramatically declined leading to the pheasant now becoming the predominant game bird. Today about 35 million pheasants are reared each year for the sporting industry, and shooting parties in the Lammermuir Hills are a common site.

On a typical driven day a team of 8 guns would be spread out in a line, standing at a designated point or "peg", whilst beaters and dogs work to drive the birds over the line to enable sporting shots to be taken. Terrain plays an important part in determining how high the birds can fly and how challenging the shooting is. A typical day pheasant shooting in the Scottish Borders would normally consist of 4 - 6 drives to achieve bags of around 50 - 400 birds at a cost of approximately £30 - £40 per bird.

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