Like Whaup (Country Diary 25th November) I am both excited and fascinated by flighting woodcock, and I agree that flighting woodcock can be far more challenging than driven birds. However, I do feel that a couple of notes of caution should be sounded.
Firstly beware woodcock “under the moon” as the Game Acts prohibit woodcock shooting between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise. On a dull evening the flight is usually over before this, but on a bright, full moon one the birds can flight late.
Secondly, I fear that it can be all too easy to over shoot a flightline, so Whaup’s suggestion of restraint has a double importance. The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s research has shown very strong winter site fidelity by woodcock, so those who might be tempted to shoot too many can expect less to come to their particular place next season.
If your woods are not shot during the day, perhaps because they are impenetrable thicket stage forestry, I think that it is perfectly reasonable to shoot a flightline once or twice each season if you can find one, but otherwise, be careful.
Dr Mike Swan
Head of Education & Regional Advisor
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust
Please help our UK woodcock population