Making the most of woodland
My friends and I are taking over some land that hasn’t been shot for two or three years — how best should we use the woodland for a pheasant shoot? What should we clear, what should we keep and where is the best place for us to site the pheasant pens?
It is a little late to do anything this year but if you already have the shoot in hand, spend the winter getting to know it and start planning your release sites and drives. A good guide, though it should only be a guide — as there is no guarantee that your predecessors made best use of the ground — would be to look at the old pens, and try to find out how the days had been run previously.
Your release site should be warm and welcoming, and in the middle of the shoot if possible. Remember that a release pen should include trees that provide low roosting, for when the poults are first released, and open spaces for sunbathing and drying off, as well as being sheltered from the prevailing wind.
I wouldn’t do too much woodland management in your first year, other than swiping and opening up the rides, as it will take you a while to find out what works and what doesn’t, and even then, there will be a certain amount of adjusting year on year. LB
For more advice on getting the most out of woodland, visit www. woodlandtrust.org.uk.