The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Money makes quality

The black grouse moor blog learns the value of investment.

Running a functioning grouse moor is a fabulously expensive business.

Going up with some friends and colleagues to visit a recently reinvigorated grouse moor on the border between Galloway and Lanarkshire this afternoon, I was stunned not only by the amount of hard work put in by the keepers, but also by the project’s sheer financial determination to succeed.

Much of the owner’s work over the past few years has centred on sowing heather seed, which is an expensive but rapidly developing science amongst moorland managers.

By the judicious application of environmentally agreeable herbicides, timely burning and the liberal application of heather seed, work on the moor is gradually making a massive difference to the undergrowth on offer to the local birds.

As we passed on to the reseeded patch, the improvement was obvious.

Six or seven inch long strands of ling reared out of the moss, along with blaeberry, cotton grass and an assortment of tiny flowers.

As if on cue, two grouse lifted out of the vegetation thirty yards ahead. With a mad cackle, they sped away into the sunlight.

Over the next 20 minutes, I listened to how the owner has tirelessly worked to regenerate the heather on his hills, and all the while his labrador thoroughly worked the ground within 50 yards, flushing grouse or blue hares to emphasise his master’s success.

We walked a circuitous route back to the car, and as I was towards the front of the group, I was the first to see one of the finest spectacles in the sporting world.

Fifty yards away, a huge pack of red grouse poised themselves defiantly on a low bank of cotton grass. With a sweet purring sound, 30 dark shapes wheeled into the air.

It seems that in the world of moorland management, you get what you pay for.

The views expressed on Patrick Laurie’s blog are the author’s and not the views of Shooting Gazette, ShootingUK, IPC Media or its employees.