Set in the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, within the picturesque Chalke Valley, Gurston Down Shoot is internationally recognised for both high Pheasant and Partridge Shooting. Conceived as an idea in 1965 and a planting plan by Jim Brocklebank of The Game Conservancy at Fordingbridge, David Hitchings set about creating a quality shoot, amidst the bare open Wiltshire Downs. After much hard work establishing the coverts, with guns initially let through syndication, David explored the possibility of marketing individual guns on each day, commencing with a bold advert in the 9th March 1973 edition of The Field in prominent heavy type:
The highest pheasant and partridge shoot in England announces the selling of a number of guns at a cost of £100 each for the coming season.
The advert caused much interest, with all guns quickly taken. Having purchased one or two guns on days, some clients enquired about buying all the guns, which led to the concept of shooting being let by the day. In a short time, Gurston Down became synonymous with commercial high game shooting, with David recognised for laying its foundations. Also, through experiencing what David had created, like-minded individuals embarked on locating similar terrain, with steep valleys which could be developed for shooting. David also involved the renowned Percy Stanbury to help with picking up during the early years. With the Stanbury Method shooting style portraying the perfect balance required for high bird shooting, David adopted his silhouette as a trademark, which features on our badges. The history and development are well documented in David Hitchings' book Showing High Pheasants and Partridges, The Story of Gurston Down Shoot. Reprinted in 2009, it contains a list of names of the guns who have shot with us. Although the UK now has plenty of exceptionally high game shoots, Gurston Down still remains very highly regarded.
After 30 years and running 607 shooting days, in 1999 David and Gwen decided to retire, passing over the reigns to his nephew Robert and wife Jeanne. Gurston Down remains a small commercial shoot, concentrating on the quality of our shooting days, rather than quantity of shooting days. The anticipated bags are predominately 300 birds, with a team of eight guns, using loaders. Last season's achievements can be viewed under latest news.