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Forecasters predict a bumper year for grouse shooting

As the season started this week, fieldsports organisations were looking forward to a promising year for grouse shooting.

Robert Benson, chairman of the Moorland Association, said: “Conditions for wild red grouse have been much better this year in most areas, after weather blighted the two previous breeding seasons.”

“We are hopefully looking at a good season for most, helping to recoup costs. With the prospects of a better season ahead, associated spin-offs will be in excess of £15million — essential earnings in these challenging economic times.”

Meanwhile, Robert Rattray of rural property and sporting letting agent CKD Galbraith said: “Though Scotland endured a cold and long winter, in recent weeks this has made way for sunshine and almost unprecedented warm weather.”

“Careful assessment of grouse stocks is revealing potential for one of the best seasons for many years, with some unusually large broods being seen. A late start to the breeding season means that shooting will extend through to September and October in many places.”

Colin Shedden, director of BASC Scotland, has also reported good prospects for this season: “In marked contrast with last year’s counts, this year, covey size is excellent, which indicates that it has been a good breeding season for grouse. Overall, the picture looks really good for most of Scotland — this could be the best year for 10 years.”

“Fieldsports such as shooting, stalking and fishing contribute around £350million to the Scottish economy per year, and grouse shooting makes up around 10% of that figure.”

The north-west of England was also reporting good counts. BASC’s North West regional officer, Duncan Thomas, said: “Most moors are reporting a good count this August, with prospects for a superb season ahead. Some have counted double those of last year, with brood sizes looking healthy.”

“Guns will have to be selective early in the season, as there are numbers of young birds around, indicating either late broods or some second broods.”

Shooting Times contributor Lindsay Waddell agreed that the prognosis was good: “Despite the long, cold winter, which delayed the start of the breeding season on some moors, it appears that the vast majority of moors will have a good, if not very good season.”

“Though some may seek to break records every year, it is perhaps too much to expect this season, and given what the grouse have been through only a few months ago, they appear to have done exceptionally well.”