The pheasant season has opened, but the countryside will be much quieter this year. Commercial shoots — and there are about 3,000 across the country — are expecting a dearth of guns, especially from the City. A new analysis from Smiths Gore, the land management consultant, has found that about 60 per cent of shoots expect to lose income this year. With bookings 20 to 30 per cent down, many shoots have reduced the number of birds they intend to release, which cuts the price of a day’s shooting. The cost of a shoot is calculated by the number of birds. A typical day is based on a bag of 300 or 400 birds, which costs from £10,000 to £20,000. But this year bags are as low as 150 birds a day, which brings costs down to £5,000, a sum that may be shared between seven to nine shooters. This decline in business is also expected to have a wider impact in the rural economy as hotels, pubs, B&Bs and professional cooks also lose takings.