Driven Partridge Shooting in Spain
Hunting ground management throughout the Spring and Summer
We are delighted to present our latest Friend In The Field article kindly written by one of our Spanish partners. Javier actively manages several of the top Spanish partridge shoots and here he provides a little insight into what it involves.
In these strange times that we are currently experiencing, I’ve spent many hours thinking about how nature manages itself and how our presence influences the life of those around us.
In Spain, confinement has been extreme, to the point of enduring 100 days without being able to leave our homes. This, for agriculture, livestock or hunting land management, has been adding one more point of difficulty to the long list of challenges we encounter on a daily basis.
Political issues and the pandemic aside, Spain experiences an extreme climate from mid-June to September and this means our land management must adapt. Our estates are varied in their makeup, from agricultural land to steep sided valleys. We offer a huge selection of drives, from traditional Spanish driven partridges, which are fast and furious, to the more English style of high, curling birds that many shooters have come to enjoy. The natural terrain lends itself to exceptional, diverse shooting with sympathetic agricultural practices, including strategically planted game crops, which enhance the drives. Deep gorges allow us to show very high birds, with other areas offering some extremely fast flight lines.
Managing our hunting areas can be a challenge. The partridges are gallinaceous, and usually start mating and preparing nest around March. The hens tend to spend around 40 days on their nest and by the time the chicks hatch, we must have everything prepared for them.
The best way to manage the breeding is to know the land and understand the birds, their habits and customs. We usually throw wheat and oats on the sand roads in the traditional way, providing a food source which persuades the females to build their nests and lay eggs close by. This gives us the opportunity to see the breeding levels more clearly and allows us to understand how best to manage the different hunting areas.
Although this system is very effective, it does create some problems, such as attracting opportunistic hunters like foxes, owls or eagles. We could write about this for pages but will save it for another chapter in the near future.
Thankfully, the weather this spring has been good to us and we have had abundant rainfall with very pleasant temperatures. Summer has taken a long time to arrive and crops have grown well. Our Beatle Banks which cover hundreds of hectares, and are not ploughed due to steep hills, offer magnificent areas of shelter.
By the time the eggs hatched, the fields were crawling with small invertebrates that made it unnecessary to supplement partridges with extra food. The water levels are always maintained because in Spain, and similar geographical areas, you never know when temperatures will rise to 40 degrees from one day to the next.
We try to get the birds used to the area in which we want them to live, and that we think will be the best for reference surveys, by gradually moving feeders and water points throughout the dry summer.
Thus, when October arrives, the partridges are established by territory. If we have introduced new partridges to these areas to bolster the numbers, the birds will be integrated into the sides of the territory. This helps their acclimatisation, flights and recovery to be faster and more natural. By joining a large group that knows the area, chicks will learn where the grasshoppers, beetles, water and food supplements are left for them. They will also learn which are the safest flight zones for them, looking for more height, speed and the safety of the group.
As the hunting season approaches and we have substantial numbers of birds, the feeders and water spots are spread out. This helps to disperse the large groups and ensures that the entire hunting ground is well prepared to offer what are possibly the best partridge drives in Spain.
We look forward to welcoming you to Spain, through our great friends and partners, William Powell Sporting.
With Spain benefiting from a season that runs into March we see this as an ideal opportunity for teams looking to shoot following the UK season. If shooting in Spain is of interest to you, please visit our Spanish Partridge Shooting pages or contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org who will be delighted to assist you.
Photo credits: John Tsialos