How Have the Lockdowns Affected the Supply of Game?

by Annabel Warne February 01 2021

Group shooting activities came to an abrupt end as a result of the November and January lockdowns. So, what does this mean for the availability of game this year?

Shooting for exercise

Group shooting was ruled out when the lockdowns were announced, but the government confirmed that some shooting could continue as a form of daily exercise if participants abided by strict lockdown restrictions, including:

  • not meeting in groups outside of a household or support bubble;
  • only travelling locally to shoot, defined in government guidance as the “village, town, or part of the city” where individuals live.

Those living near areas where they can shoot were able to continue to do so alone, with members of their own household, or with one other person from another household. This meant we still had some game birds arriving until the season ended from trusted suppliers who were able to comply with these conditions – and we will continue receiving other types of game with open seasons.

Photo by Hamish Baird from Glorious Game, published by Face Publications

Essential work

Shooting-related essential work is still permitted in England and anyone carrying out such work can travel beyond their local area. This means the shooting and trapping of pest species or surplus game species that need to be controlled to protect crops and livestock can continue by individuals with the necessary permissions. The shooting or trapping of pest species is not restricted to seasons so these will remain available throughout the year. That’s good news for those of us who love wild venison, wild rabbit, wood pigeon and squirrel!

Gamekeeping activities are also classified as essential work. To reduce the number of pheasants and partridges remaining at the end of the season, gamekeepers had a busy time in January catching and humanely dispatching these birds and delivering these to us. As these birds haven’t been shot, they are completely lead-free birds. This means less wastage for us during processing, which helped us to meet demand from our customers.

Gamekeepers will have to continue working hard outside of the season as well this year, feeding the birds that would normally have been shot. They may also need to continue catching them to move to areas where they will not cause problems and eat spring-sown crops.

Our suppliers are aware of the importance to comply with government regulations and guidance at all times while conducting their work.

Pheasant in flight

Photo by Hamish Baird from Glorious Game, published by Face Publications

Our supply

Despite the efforts of gamekeepers and individuals, the number of game birds we’ve received has been significantly less than it would have been in a typical January. This means those of us who usually enjoy eating pheasant and partridge fillets throughout spring and summer will not be able to do so as often as we usually like.

Our stocks of wild duck and other game bird species have also been impacted. However, we’re pleased to say that we expect wild venison, wood pigeon and squirrel to remain in plentiful supply throughout the year. So you can still look forward to tasty game roasts, casseroles, curries, stir fries, pasta dishes and barbecues until the next season begins. If you’d like some ideas, don’t forget there’s plenty of recipes to try in our Recipes section.

Thank you to all our customers, new and old, who have enjoyed our game throughout the trials of the pandemic. We’re delighted to have such a strong customer base with which to share our passion for wild meat. Keep tagging us in your photos on social media! It’s great to see what you’re cooking to keep your spirits up at this difficult time.