Hidden Ireland Houses
Activities › Shooting & Gaming
Ireland is traditionally a sporting country with a particularly plentiful stock of migratory game wildfowl, and the private country houses of Hidden Ireland have access to some of the best shooting in the country.
Pheasant Shooting in Ireland
Several of our houses can arrange driven pheasant shooting, either on the estate or close by. Indeed the combination of two nights’ accommodation in one of Ireland’s finest historic houses and an exciting day at high, testing driven birds is irresistible.
Rough Shooting for Snipe and Woodcock in Ireland
An even more exciting, and a more typically Irish shooting trip, is a two or three day shoot for driven snipe or woodcock, or a combination of the two, often with some duck flighting or pigeon shooting included at no extra cost. Shoots usually are based on a group of at least eight guns, plus non-shooting partners, who shoot for two consecutive days and usually stay in the house for three nights. Some shoots can cater for up to ten guns and partners while others can accommodate smaller groups, usually for walked-up or driven snipe. On occasions, a late cancellation allows one or two guns to join a pre-arranged group, but you would be unwise to rely on such an opportunity arising.
Guests stay en-famille with the owners in a typical shooting house party. They usually arrive on the evening before the first shooting day and leave on the morning after the last shooting day. Meals are to a very high standard using local ingredients and guests all eat together at one large table.
Woodcock, snipe and duck are wild birds whose presence depends on prevailing weather conditions. This type of shooting does not suit guns looking for big bags and it is quite impossible to predict game numbers in advance.
Woodcock Shooting in Ireland
Woodcock are driven to standing guns by a team of dogs and beaters (some of whom usually carry guns in the line to prevent birds flying-back). A good two-day woodcock shoot should yield between twenty and thirty birds in the bag, depending on the alertness and accuracy of the guns. This is usually achieved by a ‘show’ of between forty and sixty birds per day. Not all birds seen can be safely shot, and many birds are shot at by more than one gun.
On a typical day shooting commences at about 10.00 a.m. with a break for lunch at about 12.30 after which we continue to shoot until the light fades. Lunch may be taken in the field or in the house, depending on where shooting is taking place on a particular day and woodcock coverts are not usually shot more than twice each season.
Snipe Shooting in Ireland
Snipe are either driven to standing guns by a team of beaters, or are walked up on heather bog and shot ‘going away.’ Bogs are not usually shot more than once a month (or, more usually three times each season). The snipe shooting day is usually more flexible, particularly earlier in the season when there are about twelve hours of daylight, but most shoots restrict shooting to six or seven hours. A good two-day snipe shoot can provide a bag of between 25 and 50 birds.
Both woodcock and snipe require a high level of alertness and accuracy. Not all regular pheasant shots adapt to this form of shooting and, on occasions, the kills to cartridges ratio can be quite disheartening with kill to cartridge ratios varying from 1 to 2 or 3 (excellent) to 1 to 12 or lower. Thus it is quite possible to fire an alarming number of shots for a paltry bag and in many ways bag returns are meaningless.
Deer Stalking in Ireland
Ireland has good stocks of wild deer. While the season for stags and bucks opens in September and continues until the end of December, the optimum stalking is usually during the October rut. The season for hinds and does opens in November and continues until the end of February. While the principal species are red, fallow and sika, it is not always possible to arrange red stalking, particularly at short notice, largely due to recent publicity for championship Irish heads which are always in great demand. Sika deer have now colonised much of the eastern and northern half of the county. They are also producing good heads and sika stalking can easily be arranged, as can good fallow stalking at a competitive prices.
Duck are usually only shot as the opportunity arises or, on occasions, to finish the day when the weather conditions are right.
Pigeon shooting is generally confined to Hidden Ireland’s historic country houses in the grain growing regions in the east of the country, since the birds there are more concentrated and provide better sport. Shooting begins in July, when birds are shot, firstly over laid corn and subsequently over stubble, and this can continue until late September. Thereafter, evening roost shooting can produce exciting sport and good bags.
Rates & Terms
Rates vary from shoot to shoot but the cost per person of a two day shoot with three nights’ accommodation and all meals is usually roughly comparable with the price of a good day at driven pheasants. A 50% deposit is payable with the booking and the balance is due one month before arrival. Shooting houses quote an all-in price, for shooting, accommodation and meals, with an additional tariff for non-shooting guests. Other than a glass of wine at shooting lunches, drinks and wine are extra.
Stalking or walking-up snipe on heather bogs is tiring and requires a high level of fitness so driven bogs and high deer seats may suit less active guns. Equally, most woodcock coverts are ‘off the beaten track’ so guns who are seriously overweight, have heart conditions or high blood-pressure, bad backs, knees or ankles, or any sort of walking difficulty should enquire as to their suitability before booking and your should discuss any concerns with your hosts before booking.
Bringing your Gun to Ireland
All overseas visitors must have an Irish Fire Arms Certificate which will specify the gun(s) they are to use. Your hosts will provide the necessary application forms or these can be downloaded from the Garda (Irish Police) website, www.garda.ie. You will need to complete the application form, making sure it is duly signed and witnessed, and return it to them complete with the original of your EU firearms pass (assuming you are an EU citizen), a copy of the gun licence issued to you by your country of residence, and the appropriate fee. Processing then takes at least six weeks so it is essential that this is all done in good time.
Remember some airlines, particularly Ryan Air, no longer permit firearms on their planes so UK visitors may find it simpler to travel by car. This allows you to bring your dogs, if you wish to do so.
Guns and Cartridges
Only double barrel (side-by-side or over and under) shotguns with automatic safety catches can be used. If you use a Trap or Skeet gun, you should check that your safety catch complies with this requirement. Most shoot owners provide cartridges for sale (or can do so by arrangement) and many insist on paper cases and felt wads, for environmental reasons.
Safety is always of paramount importance and all shoots have high safety standards. Guns that shoot dangerously will be sent home without re-imbursement and could cause the entire shoot to be cancelled. All guns must have a valid up-to-date insurance policy, providing public liability cover for at least €3,000,000 in the event of an accident. This can usually be arranged by joining BASC or the Countryside Alliance, which is strongly recommended to avoid confusion. Remember, if you cannot produce proof of insurance you may not be allowed to shoot.