Public footpaths and shooting

Beowulf

Well-Known Member
#1
Right Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am in the process of obtaining some land, its only 50 acres but has no public right of way. But a public footpath runs down the boundary of one side of the grounds. Between the footpath and the land is a 12 foot hedgerow and ditch. I would like to position a highseat against a tree in the hedgerow, with my back to the footpath. I won't be seen from the path because the hedge is very thick and high. If I do this, will I be breaking the law? I've looked through various legal acts, but they seem very vague on the matter.
Can anyone help?

All I can find on the matter is a possible offence of noise nuisence. :???:

Thank you Steve.F
 

monynut

Well-Known Member
#2
Beowulf.

Don't think you are doing wrong by siting your seat near a footpath what you need to be careful of is some unauthorised idiot climbing into it falling out and suing you or the landowner, also they have to be checked twice a year and a written report submitted to the landowner, l think l am rite in saying, the BASC do an info booklet on highseats and there legalities.

M
 

Beowulf

Well-Known Member
#3
Thanks Monynut,
Yeah you are right. I'm going to put a sheet of plywood over the rungs and lock it to the tree with a motor bike chain, I will also have a sign on the ladder. What a lot of hassle! Why can't people just leave things alone!!! :evil:
 

monynut

Well-Known Member
#4
That's life mate, with all the red tape we have to contend with these days it does make you wonder if its worth it, or is that what they wont.... :mad:
 

Beowulf

Well-Known Member
#5
Yup, thats the impression I get. The farmer who owns the land does'nt give a sod about anything, he didn't understand why the police had to have a look round in the first place. He even said " you'd be better off with a AK47 and selling drugs, police would leave you alone then"!

I'd usually agree but a chap in the next street has been arrested for shooting dead that Hell's Angel a couple of weeks ago. Personally I'd have just got a large orange chimp to punch him out. Orange chimp, I can't spell Orang-utan. :lol:
 

geoshot

Well-Known Member
#8
Hi Beowulf, you should be ok as far as using the high seat like you describe. You aren't endangering the public and so long as the footpath isn't big enough to be re-designated as a public road you should be ok in the future. Hope you have better luck than me, one high seat wrecked and had to take away another as feral chavs kept climbing up there for a smoke of something herbal and then hacking bits off it, Police didn't want to know about that of course except to tell me I was liable if the little dears hurt themselves.
 

Beowulf

Well-Known Member
#9
Hi Geo,
Thanks for the advice, I'm worried about high seat security. I use a fold away ally seat at present, but will require at least another six on the land. So it will have to be wooden seats to keep the price down. The land is 50 acres=three set aside fields and two standard Oak and Hazel coppiced woodlands. Stalking it on foot is rather unproductive, high seats and hides are the way forward I think. As you mentioned, Jo public seemed to be drawn by magnets when it comes to trashing high seats!
 

john.d.m

Well-Known Member
#10
Just be a bit carefull as I always thought you couldn`t shoot a shotgun/firearm within 50 feet of the centre of a public highway, and I had a planning thing going on recently and a public footpath is designated as a class 7 public highway.
 

Beowulf

Well-Known Member
#11
Cheers John,
I had that rattling around my brain, but couldn't find it in any of the legal acts I researched. It is a single track footpath but I will check it out with the Police just incase.
 

stone

Well-Known Member
#12
did you ever find any more out on the footpath because the land i hav permission to zero on is public acess granted with several public footpaths on it and a canal through the middle of it
 

Beowulf

Well-Known Member
#13
Hi Stone,
If I remember correctly you can shoot across public footpaths. Its vehicular roads that you can't. To be on the safe side I have put up loads of notices, changed a gate for a style and shoot with my back to the footpath. Funny old thing, now that i'm shooting we don't get too many people on the land.
 

EMcC

Well-Known Member
#15
Section 161 Highways Act 1980
It is an offence for a person without lawful authority or excuse to discharge any firearm within 50ft of the centre of a Highway with a Carriageway whereby a user of the highway is injured, interrupted or endangered.
That is a quote from Hughs 'Guide to Criminal law'
'Highway with a Carriageway' does imply that it is a Vehicular Road as opposed to a country path or Green Lane as being used by off-roaders, it certainly does not mean a footpath across a field although good manners and common sense would come in to play I think.
 

Fester

Well-Known Member
#16
Hi Beowulf
Ive just been looking up the laws on shooting near or next to a public foot path. It gets a bit cloudy as a public footpath is actually classed as a public place according to the local authorities. You will be breaking the law to have a loaded weapon in a public place even tho you said you cant be seen in the position you want to shoot from. in reality your not actually shooting from the public footpath so you should be ok as footpaths are not classed as highways unlike Unclassified country roads (ucr) Or Byways open to all traffic (Botat) that are covered under the highways department. so you will not come under the (Prohibit to discharge a firearm within 50 feet from the centre of a highway) law.
The only time it could get messy is if one of them ramblers sees you & blows it all out of proportion & states you discharged your firearm near him or carried your firearm loaded or not on the footpath. You will then have to prove to the court you had reasonable excuse to do so. The discharging near him as long as your not firing from the footpath is easy to challenge as you have a reasonable excuse to do so shooting of deer on land you have permission to do so) The carrying of the firearm on a public footpath is the hard one to challenge. A member of public only needs to feel threatened just by the presense of you near them with a firearm & you could of caused an offence. I think what you have done by putting up notices warning the public that you will be shooting should sway in your favour if someone did try & get on at you.
I must say that i have some that is covered in footpaths & ive never run into any situations with the general public but you never know :rolleyes:
By the way mate make sure you secure your high seats down well. I had one stolen last month from an area that nobody ever went to. Or so i thought. All i had left was the remnants of the security strap that i found at the back of the tree.
Good luck with your new shooting area :D
 

Beowulf

Well-Known Member
#17
Hi Steyr 243,
Thank you for your comprehensive reply! :D I'm going to take the highseat down much to the annoyance of the farmer who likes it there! The foot path is also a bridal path and so that adds the risk of a rider being thrown. I will however put a small tower construction in the field 7ft high. This will give me enough height for a safe shot and not be too conspicious! I'm also trying to get the farmer to allow me to use dead hedges along some of the access points as the public don't seem to be able to read my notices! :evil:
Many thanks
 

Fester

Well-Known Member
#18
Hi Beowulf
Think you have made a wise choice by erecting a tower away from the path. Bridle ways are even harder to combat as they come under the term a (dual status) public right of way in the fact that most "not all" but most bridleways are downgraded UCRs or BOTATs & can still come under the highways department meaning that it could possibly be classed as a highway. It all depends on what the definitive map held at the local library & council offices states. It gets very complicated believe me to try & find out the real classification. :???:
Ive been there many times in the past. :evil:
 

paul k

Well-Known Member
#19
It's interesting that on the many pheasant shoots that I have been on the briefing for the day often refers to public footpaths on the shoot and the procedure for dealing with walkers using them during the day.

It has never been suggested that we should not use the footpaths whilst shooting or carrying guns. The usual advice is that if walkers appear on the footpath we should unload guns, return them to the gun slips if we are carrying them, call the walkers through and wait for them to clear before proceeding as normal.

I believe that this is advice to shoot captains from either BASC or the Countryside Alliance (I think the former) and in respect to this particular law a shotgun is the same as a rifle although clearly the manner of shooting is not with large numbers of armed people making a lot of noise on a pheasant shoot compared to single individuals trying keep quiet whilst stalking.

Clearly any trouble is not likely to arise from the Plod staking out public footpaths in forests or on farms but from a disgruntled walker, many having bunny hugging tendancies. Like most I am clearly aware of where footpaths are on the stalking ground, also make allowances for people straying off them, and I usually reckon that I will see or hear a walker long before they are aware of my presence and just try to remain undetected. I've had a number of instances where walkers have come down a footpath in a wood I was stalking in, several at first light which is stupid o'clock in the roe buck season. I have so far remained completely undetected and I often wonder what they would say if they knew that they had passed within a few yards of a guy with a high powered rifle dressed in pseudo military kit.

I remember being in the middle of gralloching a muntjac just off a footpath just as it was getting dark in a well populated part of Bucks and along came a couple of walkers. I thought "oh sh*t" expecting some hassle in such an urban area but in fact we had a very sensible chat about the need for culling and how the meat was going to be prepared and used. Like so many they had never seen deer in the woods and were interested to know more about them.

I do agree that it is possibly not the best plan to have a high seat set up to shoot near to a public footpath but in the strict letter of the law I think that you could be quite close to the footpath and be perfectly legal.
 
#20
High seats

Steyr 243 said

By the way mate make sure you secure your high seats down well. I had one stolen last month from an area that nobody ever went to. Or so i thought. All i had left was the remnants of the security strap that i found at the back of the tree.
I had the opposite I've lost two ratchet straps off the same seat??????
they left the seat on the floor I put it back up 2 weeks later it was down again with strap number two gone :mad: cheaper than a seat I suppose. :rolleyes:

Wayne
 

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