In Early 2019, I started My Shooting Journey, which was all about clay shooting, but considering the fact that my husband hunts, it was a natural next step for me to attend a partridge shoot.
After a successful launch of our Youtube channel, and one of the videos going viral, the owner of a renowned hunting estate in Spain contacted us to come and film their hunting estate, and showcase their partridge shoots and simulated game on my instagram and youtube channel, so it was a no brainer for me to say yes to this project, and I obviously took this opportunity to learn everything about partridge shooting during my stay in Spain.
The shoot took place in Salamanca, at one of the top 10 hunting estates in Spain, famous for holding the record bag in one single day, our team and I had the pleasure of staying there for 8 days shooting, filming and learning everything about partridge shooting there, including their traditions and ways of organising a pheasant shoot, which includes something I found quite exotic: beaters riding horses, it was marvellous.
In order to get the different perspectives of a partridge shoot, I spent days talking to clients who came all the way from the US and Holland, as well as with the locals: beaters and staff who worked at the estate, and this is what I learnt:
The hunt doesn't start the first day of the hunt: There is so much work and preparation for this day. Commencing the previous months, some estates "plant" the birds in advance to make sure there are plenty of partridge (if it is an intensive hunting estate), if this is the case, then the birds should be "planted"15 days before the 1st hunting day, in Spain this is normally done in mid August as the season starts in early September. Please note not all hunting estates do so.
Hunting is good for the economy. Think of it this way, for every 8 guns, at least 60 jobs will be generated for that day. So hunting is a great thing for the locals and whoever wants to ban hunting, they certainly don't care for the economy of rural areas. For every gun there should be 2 secretaries and 3 beaters, so if you are planning on organising a partridge shoot, make sure you calculate the number of staff accordingly: remember that for every 10 guns, a minimum of 25 beaters is required, but the more, the merrier and this is without counting on the horses which in Spain, they normally accompany the beaters...
Months before the season starts, the birds that have been "planted" need to make themselves comfortable in their new habitat, find their feeders etc. And the day before the hunt, part of the staff will go and check with the gamekeeper that everything is running nice and smooth including the pegs, that have to be in good condition for the guns.
Normally there would be 4 drives and in Spain, we also take a lot of pride in our tasty elevenses, where Spanish "Jamón" is a must, as well as "croquetas" served with very cold champagne, beer, coffee or anything you can think of.
No dogs until the drive is over. They can drive the birds towards the wrong area and that means less birds flying towards the pegs. This could lead to a disaster, so they normally await somewhere else.
You are 'live on the peg': as soon as you are left on your peg with your secretaries, you are allowed to shoot, so you don't need to wait to hear a whistle or anything like that. However you will hear it at the end of every drive and that means the drive is over.
Europeans shoot very differently depending on how close they are to England. The English love to shoot very high birds, whereas the French, Spanish and Italian tend to shoot lower birds but like a good mixture of high and lower but faster birds. Beware of the fact that each height has a different technique: the higher the more lead, and the lower the faster the bird will fly, so you need a better swing.
Never shoot low, always aim at the sky– safety first! Remember that the beaters are constantly moving towards you, little by little and at the end of each drive you will see them between the bushes, so make sure you aim at the sky!
Spain has one of the longest hunting seasons in the world due to its climate, for instance there are places where you can shoot from September all the way to Spring, making it easier to pencil something in for a big group of hunters with hectic agendas.
I am sure I still have loads and loads to learn from partridge shooting in Spain but this has been a great start for me to get introduced to one of the main hunting activities in Spain and I certainly recommend everyone to try it at least once in their life.
Until we finish editing and uploading the Youtube video, the place where we shot will remain secret but if you watched all my stories while I stayed in Salamanca and are interested in coming over with your friends, you can always email me at email@example.com.