Yorkshire's Top Twenty
The Fieldsports Guide to 20 top Yorkshire shoots
While the West Country may have some fabulous pheasant shoots, there can be no county with more high bird destinations than Yorkshire, says Simon Ward.And there is nothing new or trendy about them, unlike so many other areas of the country where lots of high bird shoots have been developed in the last 20 years, Yorkshire has always been home to some terrific sport. It's just that they tend not to tell everyone about it.
Consequently if you want to see some classy performers then you will find them aplenty. Shooting people in north Yorkshire have been born and brought up with the cult of the high pheasant. It is the norm. Some of the drives of the very best shoots are staggering - humbling, even to the first class Shot. Most are situated in the triangle between Malton, Hull and Whitby, where glacial creations lend themselves spectacularly to driven bird presentation, though there are also handful of top shoots in the dales to the west of the A1.
There are others not included here such as Harewood and Studley Royal, both excellent, and no doubt readers have their own favourites. But we have assembled 20 which we know are the tops. There is no order of preference (we present them alphabetically). In most cases this would be impossible as they all have something to offer.
A shoot which has gone from strength to strength under the ownership and guiding hand of Michael Cannon (also the owner of Wemmergill), with key assistance of solicitor and shooting partner Richard Johnson who lives in the area and is very much hands on. Now offering some exceptional partridge and pheasant. Some private days but mostly let. Agent Jim Gale.
One of Yorkshire's most famous shoots, and justifiably so. Duncombe Park is at the heart of he Helmsley estate, and much of it is prettily laid out parkland. Owned by Lord Feversham it has two grouse moors plus a large pheasant shoot. There are a few family days, but most are let out and the estate has a big season. Always a strong demand for places. Head keeper is John Masterman. Resident estate manager Ian Saggers is the man to contact.
Owned by famed house builder Sir Laurie Barratt, the family has two or three days, but the shooting is leased to well known local game farmer Mike Wood. Has some excellent drives - other than Barratt family days, all other shooting is let.
On the same range of East Riding hills as Warter Priory, about 20 miles inland from the east coast, Garrowby boasts some extremely deep glacial valleys, both sheer and wide, with plenty of hanging woods. Beyond the beech stands are cover crops. Extreme range pheasants to challenge the best. Owned by Lord Halifax, most of the shooting is private with the odd let day. But don't hold your breath – it's a very hot ticket and we are talking dead men's shoes.
Owned by Nick Wrigley and justifiably famous as a pheasant shoot. Has one of he most sensational drives called The Peak. The birds are driven from a v-shape wedge of beeches at 500ft on one side of the valley and head for a 240ft high wood on the opposite side. The line of guns is double banked at 300 feet and 200 feet. The birds rocket downwards from one side to the other, but at great height - you can hear them whistle through the air. Very challenging. Some let days.
Excellent shoot, bordering Swinton and Bolton estates. Productive 2,300-acre grouse moor and good dales partridge and pheasant. Imaginative use of valleys, hills and game crops for quality shooting. Owned by Marquess of Downshire - head keeper is Kevin Jobling. Mixture of private days and repeat bookings. Cancellation offers only hope of booking.
Owned by Alex Guthe and leased to Sir Rocco Forte, situated on the Cleveland Way just south of Thimbleby. The shoot leases three Hawnby drives from Lord Mexborough, so that they can shoot two days back-to-back. There is a private syndicate on the lower ground and this is another excellent shoot. In fact the three Hawnby drives are exceptional. Birds are driven off the edge of the moor over big grass valley bottoms - the valleys are 3/4 mile wide, the birds are very high and fast. They let the odd day. Keeper is Trevor Bailey.
Owned by Lord Normanby (whose Phipps family also owned Warter Priory until 1998), enjoyed some high profile publicity when leased in 2005 to banker Arpad Busson and his partner supermodel Elle Macpherson. A beautiful estate just north of Whitby, with extraordinary drives where guns stand on cliff sides and birds are driven out to sea (if unshot, they fly back!).
The late Sir Tom Cowie's pheasant shoot. As one might expect, top quality too. Much of the shooting is let.
Owned by Lady Clarissa Collins, sister to Lord Feversham. Primarily pheasant shooting, and very good too - Hastie Banks is noted for presenting serious pheasants. Let days through Julian Boddy at Sportselect.
Near Wintringham village, and developed under ownership of Major George Cholmley, but now run by Michael Wood (of Farndale). Wooded valleys and 53 named drives - high pheasants, and some exceptional partridges too. A family syndicate plus let days. Some pretty drives, and practically all shooting for the forthcoming season was already sold before last Christmas. Might be odd slots come available.
Owned by an insurance company but farmer David Medforth has the shooting and has developed an outstanding partridge shoot over Wolds valleys. Later on some very good pheasant shooting too. Some of the early season partridge shooting is let to Lord Petersham. Raisthorpe has earned a big reputation. Head keeper is Robert Pitt.
Just above Pateley Bridge is this very nice private shoot owned by James Briggs. An area better known for grouse, but offering good quality pheasant shooting. There is another similar shoot up the same valley.
Another shoot near Helmsley and famed under ownership of Nick Holt, for good pheasant shooting, in both wooded valleys and on open ground. Let through Sportselect.
Very close to Helmsley, and developed along a series of three valleys by Melvyn Birkett, but now run by his son Justin. A commercial shoot which has a lot of days (like many others) and does it very well. Nice settings and mixed shooting of pheasants and partridges.
Situated close to Studley Royal, Sawley is owned and run by Liam Botham. Very pretty with first class partridge and pheasant shooting in the hands of a very genial host, who also happens to be an excellent Shot.
Again familiar to many as a grouse moor, but in fact has good pheasant shooting. Let days through Sportselect often taken with some of the drives at nearby Ravenswick. Head keeper is Ted Wass.
Owned by the Cunliffe-Lister family, near Masham, the shoot has two grouse moors and a very good pheasant shoot, with some spectacular birds off the edge of the moorland.
Very picturesque, a lovely estate which under the ownership of Andrew Shelley has cut back substantially to 24 days' shooting. The new owner tells us he is hoping to bring back grouse on the tops, and has adjusted the partridge release programme accordingly. 12 private days, 12 let - all sold, with waiting list.
One of the most famous of all Yorkshire shoots. Stunning valley drives and brilliantly run by Frank Croft for owner Malcolm Healey. A big programme of high quality partridge and pheasant.
Jeremy Shaw (Carters Country Wear, Helmsley) 01439 770688
Julian Boddy (Sportselect) 01653 618821
Jim Gale Sporting 01529 241161
Wiliam Powell Sporting 01295 277197