Optics Mag is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Read more.

What Animals Can You Hunt in the UK? 5 Common Game Species

Last Updated on

hunter near the river

The laws related to shooting and hunting in the UK can often get confusing. Besides, if you are hunting for the first time, the chances of making an error and paying a hefty fine are high. Hunting is legal in the UK, but there are specific regulations that you should avoid to refrain from punishment.

When planning a hunting adventure in the UK, you should follow all the rules related to the animals you can hunt, the seasons you can track and hunt the game species, and the equipment you should use to get the job done. 

There are many game species in the UK that you can hunt down. Read further to find their details.

scope crosshairs divider 1

The 5 Common Game Species You Can Hunt In the UK

Whether you are a new hunter or a professional, hunting needs to be performed appropriately to avoid any accidents. You should know all the animals you can hunt, so you are prepared to track and capture them.

Here is the list of the most popular game species in the UK:

1. Classic Deer

whitetail deer

Image Credit: Linzmeier1, Pixabay

Deer hunting is one of the most popular activities in the UK. It is referred to as deer stalking and involves pursuing a deer on food to hunt for leisure or trophy. Deer stalking is often performed to reduce the population of this animal.

In the UK, stalked deer are usually shot using high-powered rifles. According to the UK’s hunting laws, you can’t hunt this animal using a bow.

One of the most popular deer for hunting is the red deer, primarily found in Scotland. This place has a majestic population of red deer. Red deer stalking is a traditional sport in the region and is often practiced to maintain a healthy population of the animal.

The hunting season for red deer is between September and October, and the best dates are 19 September to 20 September.


2. Brown Hare

brown hare on the grass

Image Credit: Franz W., Pixabay

Brown Hare is another popular game species in the UK. The animal originated in Asia but was found in the UK during Roman times. The animal looks bigger than a rabbit and has black-tipped and long ears with tawny furs.

The animal prefers living above the ground but likes to rest in self-created shallow evacuations. The brown hare’s biggest advantage is its speed, which keeps the animal safe from predators. It runs with its tail tucked in while hiding its white underside.

The brown hare doesn’t have much protection from the UK government because it is considered a game species. You can hunt it throughout the year, even during their breeding season. Interestingly, they are the only game species with no closed season.


3. Red Grouse

red grouse on the meadow

Image Credit: dpexcel, Pixabay

You can experience grouse shooting in two different ways in the UK. Driven shooting involves effective management and high grouse density to be successful. You can also hunt this game through a walk-up method often performed with dogs.

These Grouse are often found in the UK only and are often considered as “paragon of gamebirds” for their agility and speed. However, this animal offers tremendous challenges for the hunter, and that’s why people love hunting it in the UK.

The red grouse is a wild bird. People have put effort into training it, but many attempts have failed. The hunting season starts on 12 August and ends around 10 December. Many experts label this bird as Scottish, but it is often found in the southwest region of England as well.


4. Pheasants

ring-necked pheasant on the grass

Image Credit: jstoner22, Pixabay

Game birds such as pheasants aren’t labeled as wild birds. In fact, such birds are covered by the UK Game Act and have their own open and closed season. In the UK, pheasant hunting starts on 1 October and ends on 1 February.

To hunt a pheasant, you must know how one looks. A pheasant is any bird that is bigger than a partridge or quail. It belongs to the Phasianidae family and often has long tails and hoarse calls.

You can spot a pheasant in a majority of the regions in the UK, except for the west and far north of Scotland. These birds are least found in urban and upland areas. They are mostly found near crops, woodland edges, and hedgerows.


5. Black Grouse

black grouse

Image Credit: Jayne Simmons, Pixabay

Black grouse is one of the large game birds in the UK and is a sedentary species, often found near the woodlands. This bird is often shot in months between 20 August to 10 December. However, for a sustainable shooting experience, you might have to wait for the time when productivity is high.

This bird is often found in most areas of Scotland, upland Wales, and the Pennines. You can hunt a black grouse in two ways: walked-up and driven-shooting.


Is Game Hunting Allowed in the UK?

Since 2020 deer stalking and game shooting have been allowed in Great Britain and considered field sports. Scotland, England, and Wales haven’t allowed hunting using hounds since 2002. What’s more, in England and Wales, it is unlawful to hunt game birds while they are not in action or flight.

How to Improve Your Game Shooting Technique

Even if you are a professional hunter, you need to know some ways to improve your game shooting techniques. Here are a few tips to ensure your success in the next hunting season:

Prepare Yourself

You need to prepare your vision for that perfect shot. And for that, get an eye test and confirm which eye is dominant. Before you get on the field, ensure to recheck your gun fit and position your firearm in the same direction your eye might be looking.

Safety Should Be a Priority

If you are not careful with the rules, you may end up hurting yourself. So, to avoid wearing the right gear, ensure you are well-acquainted with your weapon and know the regulations regarding UK hunting.

Practice Your Gun Mount

An excellent gun mount is a perfect way to achieve a perfect shot. Make sure you follow the dry practice to attain this goal. Also, avoid wearing bulky clothes that can impede you.

hunting shotgun and cartridges on a tree trunk

Image Credit: river34, Shutterstock

Lift Your Weapon Well

Make sure that your gun is lifted well and allows you to lead. Raising your weapon correctly is like a ballistic movement that you should practice before getting on the field.

Don’t lose Your Confidence

Finally, keep your spirits high and don’t lose confidence even if you have missed many shots in a day. Confidence during a shooting session is vital to support your gun movement and is also valuable in maintaining good vision.

scope crosshairs divider 2

Final Takeaway

Hunting in the UK is a remarkable experience, provided you are well-acquainted with the common game species found in the area. In the article above, we have shared five species you can easily find in the UK to hunt down. From deer to grouse hunting, every animal or bird mentioned above provides a unique hunting experience.

The hunting requirements of all species mentioned are different, so make sure you are aware of the UK laws and regulations. Besides, if you want a successful experience, practice hunting as much as possible, spend time on your technique and gear, and be confident in attaining your desired results.


Featured Image Credit: maxzzerzz ❄, Unsplash

About the Author Jeff Weishaupt

Jeff is a tech professional by day, writer, and amateur photographer by night. He's had the privilege of leading software teams for startups to the Fortune 100 over the past two decades. He currently works in the data privacy space. Jeff's amateur photography interests started in 2008 when he got his first DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel. Since then, he's taken tens of thousands of photos. His favorite handheld camera these days is his Google Pixel 6 XL. He loves taking photos of nature and his kids. In 2016, he bought his first drone, the Mavic Pro. Taking photos from the air is an amazing perspective, and he loves to take his drone while traveling.

Jeff Weishaupt Profile Picture