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The Wildfowlers Code of Conduct


England and Wales

In England and Wales the foreshore is that part of the seashore which is more often than not covered by the flux and reflux of the four ordinary tides occuring midway between springs and neaps. The foreshore may be in crown or private ownership. In England and Wales the B.A.S.C has an agreement with the Crown Estate Commissioners giving B.A.S.C. members defence against prosecution for carrying guns on the Crown foreshore. You need permission to shoot on private foreshore. The onus is on the wildfowler to establish whether the foreshore is private. Access and egress must be by public right of way unless otherwise authorised.

The shooting of wildfowl on Sundays is illegal in some counties:

Counties in England and Wales in which there is no Sunday shooting of schedule 2 part I birds. Anglesey; Brecknock; Caernarvon; Carmarthen; Cardigan; Cornwall; Denbigh; Devon; Doncaster; Glamorgan; Gt. Yarmouth (County Borough); Isle of Ely; Leeds (County Borough); Merioneth; Norfolk; Pembroke; Somerset; Yorkshire (North Riding); Yorkshire (West Riding).


In Scotland the foreshore is the area of land between the high and low water marks of ordinary spring tides. In Scotland, whether the foreshore is Crown or private ownership, the Crown retains in trust certain rights on the foreshore (except Orkey and Shetland) by virtue of which members of the public may engage in wildfowling. The public right may, in certain cases, be taken away by statute, e.g. nature reserves. The onus is on the wildfowler to establish whether such reserves exist. There is no shooting of wildfowl in Scotland on Sundays or Christmas day.

Northern Ireland

The shooting seasons and quarry species differ from those in England, Wales and Scotland and are subject to yearly change.

There is no shooting on the foreshore after the 31st January and night shooting is prohibited.

General points

Those who shoot on the foreshore can only legally take the birds listed in Schedule 2 Part I of the Wildlife and Countryside act 1981, unless otherwise authorised, during the open season.

Schedule 2 Part I

Duck: mallard, teal, wigeon, pintail, tufted duck, pochard, shoveller, golden eye, gadwall. Geese: pinkfooted, greylag, whitefronted (England and Wales only), Canada. Wader: golden plover. Others: coot, mooorhen, woodcock, snipe.

Scedule 2 Part II refers to those wild birds which may be killed or taken, by authorised persons, at any time including woodpigeons, crows and some gulls. You should be aware that some bylaws, for example, on nature reserves, do not include shooting birds in schedule 2 Part II.

Under certain circumstances some other species not listed in the above schedule may be shot under special licence. Details are available from the B.A.S.C. Headquarters.

Only the wildfowl species listed in schedule 3 Part III of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 may be offered for sale, dead, from the 1st of September until the 28th February inclusive:

Duck: mallard, teal, wigeon, pinatil, tufted duck, pochard, shoveller. Wader: golden plover. Others: coot, woodcock, snipe.

The sale of all dead wildfowl is currently prohibited in Northern Ireland.

The B.A.S.C. does not encourage the sale of dead migratory quarry species.

It is illegal to sell dead wild geese.

It is illegal to shoot from a mechanically propelled boat in pursuit of wildfowl. The prudent wildfowler will, therefore, dispense with the engine altogether.


Always remember that your main quarry, wild geese and duck, are largely migrants and we have a responsibilty to safeguard them and their environment.

Always remember that others judge the sport by your behaviour.

A responsible shot will have third party liabilty insurance cover, but an excellent insurance is to follow the B.A.S.C. shotgun safety code.

Always remember it as the wildfowler's responsibility to understand the laws relating to his sport; in particular to be able to recognise his quarry and know when and where he may shoot.


Always condemn unsporting shooting, i.e. at poor flyers and at birds out of range.

Remember a marsh can be spoilt by continual human disturbance - and you need not be shooting to cause a disturbance.

Always mark wounded quarry and ensure that it is picked up and humanely despatched as soon as possible. A sharp knock on the head with a suitably heavy stick or priest is most effective.

Always remember that a dog is essential for tide shooting and picking up after dark - keep it under control at all times.


Inland: September 1st - January 31st inclusive

Below the mean high water mark of ordinary spring tides: September 1st - February 20th inclusive.

N.B. Geese and duck only after January 31st.


A double barrelled 12 bore is a suitable all round shotgun. If your fieldcraft id good you will be successful with the standard 2.5 inch cartridge (correctly loaded).

Traditionally, wildfowlers prefer a 3 inch chambered gun which enables them to shoot heavier shot more effectively. Big bore guns i.e. 10, 8 and 4 bores although capable of handling big shot very effectively, can be cumbersome and a burden. Choke only marginally increases your range and is no excuse for attempting out of range shots.

The B.A.S.C. discourages the use, by its members, of any gun or rifle firing a single bullet or projectile for the purpose of killing wildfowl.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 makes the use of self loading or repeating shotguns illegal for shoting wildfowl unless fitted with a device to prevent the firing of more than three cartridges in succession without reloading.

Shot Size
Max. effective range
No. 4/5
40 yards
No. 6
40 yards
No. 3
40 yards


When you go on the foreshore for the first time go in daylight with someone who knows the area and can point out marsh boundaries and inherent dangers which occur.

When wildfowling away from home, it is courteous to make contact with the secretaries of the local wildfowling clubs, to ensure that you do not encroach on private ground.

Always tell someone where you have gone wildfowling and don't forget to tell them you have returned safely.

Make sure that you know of local rules and restrictions, particularly those that may be operating in a nature reserve shooting area.

Always avoid the more distant parts of the marsh when a big tide is expected.

Always consult the tide tables before going on the marsh. Remember that the figures stated will be altered by the prevailing weather conditions.

If you are out all day carry some food and a thermos containing a hot drink.

Wear comfortable, inconspicuos warm waterproof clothing.

Waders are normally recommended.

Always take a large canvas bag - it is often useful to sit on.

Make sure your equipment is sensibily distributed about you and leaves you freedom of movement.

Make sure you carry your shotgun certificate with you.

A game licence is needed for common snipe and woodcock.


Always carry a waterproof wristwatch, it is essential for judging the state of the tide.

Remember, if British summer time is in force, to make neccessary corrections to your tide table.

Always carry a waterproof torch but remember torch flashing is only justified in an emergency.

A pair of binoculars will enhance the day and be useful for identification purposes.

A six foot wading pole will greatly assist you to walk on the marsh and can be used to sound gutters and crossing places.

Always carry a pocket compass, go straight to your chosen point and note the compass bearing for a safe return route.

Always carry at least a 'pull through'; it is all too easy to get mud or snow into the muzzle of your gun.


Do not disturb the locality or other sportsman by making a noise, banging car doors when arriving early in the moring or leaving late at night.

Never arrive late, or depart early, and so disturb the shooting of those who have taken the trouble to get in position in good time.

Do not shoot in the immediate vicinity of houses adjoining the shore.

Make sure that you are well hidden. Camouflage yourself to suit your surroundings.

Try to make your dog comfortable - if you sit on your gamebag make sure he has a dry seat.

Look through your gun barrels to make sure they are clean whenever an obstruction may have entered.

Range judging when wildfowling is particularly difficult. As the flight develops, don't spoil it by shooting at out of range birds.

Send your dog to retrieve as soon as they are shot.

Take care to recognise legal quarry. If in doubt don't shoot.

Never leave cartridge cases or unsightly pit holes on the marsh.

Dogging the tideline will often recover lost birds.

Never try to be clever waiting for the last moment to leave the marsh when the incoming tide is approaching. Channels fill quickly and in a very short time they will become a torrent.

On leaving the marsh your dog will be cold and wet - consider his needs before your own.

Take care of your quarry - don't waste it.

Pay special attention to cleaning your gun - sand and salt water will quickly erode it. check it for faults which may need rectifying.

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