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What Animals Can Preppers Hunt In The UK?

What Animals Can Preppers Hunt In The UK?

In the modern day, many people in the UK may choose to hunt animals for sport of for fun. But as a prepper you will need to know not only how to hunt, but exactly what you can hunt and what you cannot hunt in order to ensure your survival. In a SHTF event, you

In the modern day, many people in the UK may choose to hunt animals for sport of for fun. But as a prepper you will need to know not only how to hunt, but exactly what you can hunt and what you cannot hunt in order to ensure your survival.

In a SHTF event, you may be required to hunt or trap animals to obtain a nutritious food source to keep yourself and others alive.

Whilst no such event has happened just yet, you may want to practice hunting animals in the meantime, so that when the time comes you can take your shot and not miss, saving you precious ammunition. It is in these situations that you will need to know what animals in the UK can be hunted.

Firstly, it is worth noting that legally, most animals and birds can only be hunted during their game seasons, which is a short window of the year where it is legal to hunt a particular bird or animal.

Hunting outside of this time frame is considered illegal and will carry severe consequences, however if everything has gone to pot and the rule of law has broken down you will need to shoot to survive all year round.

Game Animals

two pheasants walking in a field hunt

Animals and birds in the UK which can legally be hunted within their respective game seasons include:

Brown Hare

Brown hares are fairly common on mainland Britain. There is approximately just over half a million of them. Hare meat tends to have a nice texture to it and tastes very close to chicken, if a little tougher, making it the perfect option as a replacement if you don’t have access breeding rabbits or chicken.

There is no closed season for hunting brown hare in England. In Northern Ireland the season starts on 12th August and ends on 31st January.


Partridges are continuing to become much more scarce throughout England. They tend to live in social groups which makes them easy targets for hunting, if you shoot with a shotgun you will probably hit at least one.

Partridges are a little larger than quails and has a sweet and gamey flavour. In mainland UK, the game season starts on 1st September and ends on the 1st February. In Northern Ireland it has the same open date but closes on the 31st January.


Pheasants are quite common throughout the UK. They are relatively big birds and cannot fly very high or very far, and are somewhat stupid birds that will simply walk in front of oncoming traffic seemingly obliviously, or walk right into a trap, making them easy targets to pick off.

They tend to move in groups of more than one. It tastes similar to chicken but slightly more gamey, and to increase the flavour it should be hung in a fly proof game bag for at least a week.

In the mainland UK, game seasons starts 1st October to 1st February. In Northern Ireland game seasons starts on the same date but ends 31st January.

Black Grouse

The black grouse can be found in the mainland UK but not on the island of Ireland. They are a relatively big bird and are slowly becoming less common throughout the UK.

The meat is dark and flavourful. Definitely a delicious prize if you can get one. Open season in the UK starts on 20th August and ends on the 10th December.


The ptarmigan is just a little bigger than a partridge and is only native to the Highlands of Scotland. The bird cannot be found in Ireland. They are relatively big which makes them an ideal prize.

However, as a prepper it is unlikely that you will come across these on your travels. The meat has great texture and is dark and gamey. Game season opens on 12th August and closes on the 10th December in the UK.

Red Grouse

The red grouse is a plump, medium sized bird which can be found throughout the UK. They produce red meat which is fairly distinctive, the flavour is rich and gamey.

However, as they are only medium birds, one bird may only be enough for one person, so if you’re a prepper planning to feed your family with this one, it might not be ideal unless you back a few at a time.

Game season in the UK opens on the 12th August and closes on the 10th December. In Northern Ireland, the game season opens on 12th August and closes on the 30th November.


Deer can be hunted in the UK during their specific game season, and with two million wild deer all over the UK there’s plenty to go around, especially as their populations grow year on year.

Certain rules must be adhered to when hunting deer in the UK, including the possession of a hunting licence. The types of deer you can legally hunt in the UK are Chinese water deer, sika deer, red deer, muntjacs, fallow deer and roe deer.


You can legally hunt geese in the UK, but you can only hunt geese during their open season. The types of geese you can legally hunt in the UK are the pink-footed goose, Canada Goose and greylag goose.


You are allowed to legally hunt many species of duck in the UK provided it falls within their game season, and the use of duck decoys and duck whistles to lure them in is also permitted. 

The types of duck you can legally hunt include: tufted duck, mallard, gadwall, wigeon, pintail, teal, common goldeneye, shoveler and common pochard.

Other Wild Animals In The UK

men holding dead rabbits and a duck hunting


Fast breeders and a decent meal for two people, a rabbit has a fair bit of meat but it is also very lean containing almost no fat. Eating rabbit continuously for weeks and months on end with little else will cause rabbit starvation which should be avoided at all costs.

Catching rabbits is allowed all over the UK if you own the land, and with over 37 million of them, there’s no shortage. You can shoot rabbits, catch them in snares, set cage traps for them, set ferrets after them or use fencing techniques.


Most pigeons are considered pests that destroy crops and eat grain in abundance, so if you are growing food then you can shoot them or trap them on your land. A tasty meal although not much meat on each, pigeons can be roasted on a fire or boiled, and you’ll need about three to feed a family of four.

Woodpigeons and regular feral pigeons can be disposed of, however you cannot kill doves whether they are turtle, stock or collared.

Click here to see a comprehensive list of the other birds you can and can’t shoot in the UK. 


Not on the menu of most people except probably Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, squirrel is actually a tender meat that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. When it comes to shooting them and trapping them, grey squirrels are fair game and you can dispose of them anywhere in the UK legally.

However, red squirrels are native to the UK and are a protected species, so you are not permitted to kill them, let alone eat this endangered species of which there are only thought to be 15,000 in England.


You may not kill a hedgehog in the UK, or even treat one cruelly, as they are listed in the Wild Mammals Protection Act. Having said that, this website is dedicated to survival so technically if in a life or death scenario you could catch and cook one.

Hedgehogs have been eaten by Romany gypsies for centuries, and often they are killed, packed into a ball of clay and baked in a fire. When taken out, the clay breaks away along with the spines and leaves just the meat behind which is supposed to taste like pork.

Legally Hunting In The UK

You can also legally hunt various other mammals as well, however it is worth following up on the guidance, rules and laws for legally hunting birds and mammals in the UK.

Just some of the many animals and birds you could potentially find in the UK when hunting for survival include: rats, mice, water voles, bats, badger, weasels, otters, beavers, shrews, stoats, wildcats, dormice, mink, boars, pine marten and seals.

You can find a complete menu list by clicking here.

Failing that, there’ll always be a wide range of other animal species available from pet-loving Brits, or head to the local zoo or a pet shop for more exotic meats – in the worst of SHTF situations, of course.

As a UK prepper, it is good practice to know how to humanely hunt these animals in case there is ever a time where your life depends on it. You may need to feed more than just yourself, and you may have limited access to things such as firearms and ammunition.

Therefore, it is important that you are already well versed in the world of animals that can be hunted – both game and non-game species. 


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