Points of law
Peter Glenser QC, firearms barrister and BASC chairman, answers your questions on shooting and the law.
QLast season I was a guest on a shoot where the final drive didn’t finish until the last dregs of sunlight could be seen on the horizon. We felt it was rather a dangerous ploy. Is there anything in shooting law about when a day must finish?
AThe short answer is yes. Game may not be shot at night and night time is defined in the Game Act of 1831 as being one hour before sunrise or and an hour after sunset.
Whether or not what was happening at your shoot was dangerous or not I can’t say. But it probably wasn’t illegal if you could see actual sunset. Most sporting people don’t like to shoot so late though, preferring to let birds go to roost undisturbed.
Hence the endless discussions about shooting through or stopping for lunch.
As autumn turns to winter there is increasingly precious little daylight to play with, so shoots must make the most of what they have. I am not a fan of shooting through — I don’t want to have lunch at 3.30pm or 4pm and if I am not staying where I am shooting, I may well have plans for the evening that are not improved by eating at that time of day. On the other hand during those bleak, short December and January days I am more than happy with a quick bowl of soup and/ or a sandwich at lunchtime and don’t need what advertisements for shooting like to call “full hospitality”. There is precious little light then and I like to make the most of it.Many of my most memorable shooting meals have been al fresco on the hill or in a wood. Stories, cheese and a good red can all wait for the evening and a cheery blaze, when the dog is warm and dry and the gun cleaned and lightly oiled.