field sports
Perhaps the way forward....  

Knepp Estate has a long history of both shooting and conservation, and the Burrell family have all been passionate about both.  For more than 220 years successive generations of Burrells have enhanced the aesthetic value of the estate by planting thousands of trees and, more importantly, creating a rich and varied habitat for wildlife.

In the last fifty years due to modern farming methods, the estate has lost many of its natural habitats, however with our new conservation objectives we hope to boost the population of all wildlife on the Estate.

Shooting

With fairly flat topography and marginal economics, driven shooting on the estate came to an end in about 1997 and for several years there was no formal "shoot" at Knepp.  During the ensuing 5 or 6 years it was sad to observe the last partridges die out completely, and this was one of the motivations behind re-kindling a shoot in 2004.  

Our aim is to safeguard existing game resources through habitat creation and by encouraging the wild population to breed - hopefully leading to a harvestable surplus. From 2005 - 2011 we supplemented the wild stock with some pure ring-necked pheasants, which spread about the estate.  We also released a number of native English partridges in an effort to re-start a wild population, and were rewarded in 2006 by seeing a "wild" broods.

We are assisted by the valiant efforts of a few like-minded local enthusiasts who have given up their time to perform the three main objectives set by the Estate - to police the land in an effort to stop trespass; and (at least initially) to feed game stocks and to carry out a limited amount of predator control.  Ultimately we would like to see predator control and human intervention kept to an absolute minimum, relying instead - once a healthy habitat and ecosystem is restored – on nature to do the work of providing food and stabilising populations.

Some members of the public, particularly local dog-walkers, have come up against our team and the Estate regrets any occasions that give rise to conflict or ill-feeling.  We appreciate that game shooting itself is not to everyone’s taste but we would like to emphasise that our shooting practices are both legal and endorsed by conservation bodies; and that the breeding strategy actually encourages many other branches of wildlife, particularly insects, small mammals – such as field mice and shrews - and other ground-nesting and seed-eating birds.  It is a great pleasure to us that people enjoy walking at Knepp and seeing the wildlife around them, but we would kindly request that they stay on the footpaths and keep dogs either on a lead or strictly under control.  A dog foraging even a little way from the footpath could disturb ground-nesting birds.

Aside from game, the estate has a large population of rabbits, pigeons, grey squirrels and roe deer, all of which are periodically controlled.  A seasonal and limited amount of game and wildfowl is available to order (see Home Grown Produce).

Wildfowl and snipe are a much-treasured resource, with our main lake providing a haven at times for thousands of duck of all varieties.  Some duck flighting is carried out on isolated ponds, but no ducks are reared and released artificially on the estate.

Woodcock numbers have been increasing dramatically as the Wildland Project has developed and the habitat has moved away from intensive farmland.  In 2011 the estate helped to raise funds and contributed to GWCT research into the migratory habits of this wonderful bird, which flocks to the UK in large numbers during November each year.  We have a policy not to shoot woodcock prior to the second November moon to ensure that our native birds are not targeted, and hope that the research will offer better guidance to sportsmen on when the bird should be conserved.

Hunting

The Estate owes the retention of hedging and much of its woodland and rues to the fact that the late Sir Walter and Lady Burrell were Masters of the Crawley and Horsham Hunt. Throughout the farming revolution when countless miles of hedges were being pulled up, Charlie Burrell's grandparents thought only for their sport – hunting. The average farm field size on Knepp is still a little under 10 acres (which is tiny by modern standards) and all are bordered by hedges.

For decades the opening meet has been held in front of the castle, providing a wonderful spectacle of horses, hounds, hunters and supporters assembling together before setting off to draw the woods and covers around the estate.  For about 10 years the policy was that no foxes were shot on the estate, with all spared for the Hunt that careered over the hedges about 20 times a season!  Of course the hunt ban has put an end to that but we still permit legal trail hunting over the estate, and still host the opening meet.

 

For further information, please contact the estate office enquiries@knepp.co.uk

 

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fallow land - ideal habitat for game - we also get 7 to 8 breeding pairs of lapwings in this area of the Estate - they seem to love the rushes

 

the grey partridge re introduction project is in its fifth year but progress is slow.  Extra resources will be diverted to this project in 2012.

we had 3 pairs of the 1st  year partridges pair up - a further 3 barren pairs were given foster chicks to look after in 2010

hedges bristling with berries

shooting party at Knepp in the 1930's note the cart and horse

this is going to make taking people around on safaris fun

roe buck in the Sothern block winter 2010

roe buck in velvet