Around the country numerous shooting preserves hold regular tower shoot where pheasant are released form a tower of some height to fly over the guns who have formed a circle at some distance around the tower. These shoots are usually called European shoots, but truth be told, they are nothing like a driven bird shoot. Some clubs offer a different form of "driven" bird shooting where birds are released from a hill top over a line of guns in a valley below. These shoots often have more than 1 "drive" and the guns move around the property, and change pegs as they would at a real driven shoot. In fact, some of these shoots are quite authentic, like the shooting offered by Royal United company. But it's not "driven" bird shooting. Then there is Blixt and Company. They offer true driven bird shooting out west. Something, however, tells me that this isn't exactly affordable for the average household. Driven bird shooting shouldn't be something that anyone can't aspire to partake of. And it needn't be. The syndicate I shot with in England is a DIY syndicate. The members do all the work. They don't hire a gamekeeper, nor beaters to push the birds over them on shoot day. Before the season they all pitch in and make repairs to the bird pens and feeders. They take delivery of the pheasant poults and care for them. They haul feed, and fill feeders all during the season. On shoot day they split in to 2 teams, red and black, and alternate shooting and beating the cover. This form of syndicate operates on a walk1-stand 1 format, and is common in the UK.
What is keeping us from having driven bird shooting here in the US? I think the biggest factor preventing the formation of driven bird syndicates in are the bag and possession limits on game. Unlike in the UK, here the game birds belong to the public, and limits have been established to ensure a fair distribution of the resource, and to prevent game hogging. It'd be hard to get a people involved in a syndicate when they could only shoot 2 pheasant a day. In fact it'd be probably too much effort to organize a driven day for such a small bag. Coupled with the fact that it'd probably be pretty hard to find a property in many states with enough birds to make the day exciting. Here in the east, most pheasant are released by the state, and they aren't exactly releasing all that many. A solo hunter with a good dog has a better chance at killing his limit, in a shorter time, with less effort than would be done working in unison with a syndicate. Of course, a day of driven shooting isn't just about the number of birds killed. Driven bird shooting is a social affair that involves shooting birds. Still, trying to organize a syndicate, and drives when there just aren't many birds around isn't very inspiring, and unless the local arrangements are second to none, I doubt there'd me many repeat customers. But that isn't really too much of a problem. Shooting preserves have long been established, and because they raise, and release their own game birds have been exempt from the bag and possession limits. The special rules for preserves is what allows Royal United to operate, and why tower shoots exist. So why not a preserve dedicated to driven bird shooting?
I think it's time to form a driven bird syndicate, and get some true driven bird shooting going here in the US. Why not get a syndicate started, and find a property which could be licensed as a shooting preserve, and spend a few weekend each fall doing a little walk1-stand 1 driven shooting? I have a hard time believing that I am the only one in the New England area with an interest in driven birds.
Here is a link from the Shooting UK website to an article, How to start your own DIY shoot. While I don't think we would need to do everything the way the article suggests, and couldn't do some of it, I do believe that with the right base of people putting their heads together a driven shooting syndicate could be a reality. So, what do you say? If you are in the New England area, and have an interest in driven shooting, and would like to see a syndicate formed dust off your tattersall and tweed, and send me an e-mail.