Four weeks today…

… is the …

…twelth, the traditional start of the grouse shooting season.

There are all sorts of reasons why the grouse shooting season might be a damp squib this year.

First, the weather may not have been perfect for Red Grouse this year and there are reports of Red Grouse numbers being low in many parts of the country. But I’ve learned to take such reports with a pinch of salt. I’ll be having a look around several grouse moors myself over the next few days and I’ll see what I think.

Second there are reports that various diseases, including bulgy-eye (see here and here), are getting a grip on more and more moors.

But what do you think of Red Grouse numbers this year? It’s about the time when ‘keepers do counts to determine the number of grouse on the ground, and that informs shooting days.

A third reason may be that the prospect of travelling to the north of England, an area governed by a bumbling government, during an easing of lockdown, may not be the most attractive prospect to many who have other ways to spend their money. Foreign visitors, even foreign owners, may be in short supply on the grouse moors of the UK this year and restrictions are still tight in Scotland, I hear. Visitors from the USA, for example, may not find the warmest welcome in remote rural areas – they may be seen as an epidemiologist’s nightmare by many lical communities.

A fourth reason is the logistical difficulty of organising beaters for shoots. Whereas cash-in-hand payment for beating is a useful source of income in many upland areas, the prospect of being crammed in a sweaty van or trailer with lots of other folk whose social distancing history is unknown to you may not be very appealing to many.

The whole prospect of the rich blasting away at birds as though nothing has changed in the world while being attended by the poor has always been part of the grouse shooting scene, but it may look a little more distateful than usual this year and is accompanied by the risk of coronavirus infection in either direction.

We won’t hear of record bags even if there are some (which I doubt) because grouse shooting is no longer a pastime of which many will boast. Don’t expect many Conservative MPs to be photographed willingly on the moors this summer and autumn. Will bumbling Boris be shooting this year?

I’d be interested to hear from any with inside information on how the propects for grouse shooting look in your area this year. Discretion guaranteed. Email

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8 Replies to “Four weeks today…”

  1. I really hope that this year is ruination for the shooters. What a rotten business the whole thing is with all its accompanying trashing of our moorlands and the wholesale cruel killing of almost all other animal wildlife on our moorlands.
    Generally speaking the shooters have not got “much between their ears” ( you don't need much just to shoot totally defenceless birds and animals). So let’s hope that this year marks the start of the terminal decline of this very rotten and cruel shooting business.

  2. It's a comforting thought, that the hundreds of birders chasing the
    Lammergeier around the Peak District, will all be supporting local businesses,taking up some of the slack if the grouse dissapoint.

    1. It’s comforting too for those stalwart and true ‘countrymen’ deprived of their grouse shooting to know that if they are really lucky they can enjoy a diversified form of slaughter. Some of my pals have signed up to that elite brigade of marksmen currently employed to cull badgers and have even bought themselves shiny new rifles for the job! Wonderful sport and they even get paid for it! I wonder if they use lead-free ammo though.

      1. Bill, I wonder if your pals have tried a two-way range, they might find it would be more sporting experience!

        1. Sounds like an excellent plan! It’s high time Badgers were given a chance to fight back. The whole cull is completely obscene and those doing the culling-my pals included-should hang their heads in shame.

    2. I dare say that given the state of preparedness of some of them (think an abundance of wellies and trainers, combined with a lack of maps) would suggest the local groups that will see the greatest increase in demand are the mountain rescue teams.

    3. Grouse shooters do not put money into local economies - unless you count the kepeers and beaters tips [which are of course always included in tax returns!] or accomodation owned by the local landowner...I dare say a horde of birders will put more into local shops and pubs than a bunch of shooters?

  3. Trophy hunting is unacceptable to the vast majority of people and whether you dress it up as 'record bags' or shooting the healthiest stags as essential pest control of deer it still amounts to the same thing if bragging rights is your purpose. If we don't accept the killing of lions etc abroad then we can't accept shooting as many birds as possible at home just to say we're the best at killing lots of birds. I will assume any dislikes below are from the likes of Donald Trump Jr annoyed that they need to prove their manhood by shooting rare sheep.


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