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Grouse shooting: 12 facts you need to know about the Glorious 12th

The start of the shooting season - the Glorious 12th August - is nearly here and Guns up and down the country will be counting down the days until they get out in the field. And so grouse shooting begins ...

Moorland management

steam train in Borders

1. It’s all thanks to the train

Grouse shooting got going when the Victorians built railways that made it easier to get up onto the moors, back in the mid-19th century. Suddenly you could travel relatively comfortably with all your equipment and your gundogs. Around the same time, the breech-loading shotgun was invented, with a prepared cartridge. These two factors combined to create the pastime grouse shooters know and love.

2. It’s supported by the UK Government

The UK Government was recently petitioned to ban driven grouse shooting. In response, it finally released a statement recognising that: “When carried out in accordance with the law, grouse shooting for sport is a legitimate activity and in addition to its significant economic contribution, providing jobs and investment in some of our most remote areas, it can offer important benefits for wildlife and habitat conservation”.

3. Grouse shooters wear dark colours

It’s because they don’t want to be spotted by the birds. They need to blend in with the surroundings.

grouse shooting

Gamekeepers from the Angus Glens Moorland Group in Edinburgh

4. It’s a valuable source of local revenue

According to recent research by the GWCT, grouse shooting on 140 “core” grouse estates in Scotland is likely to support a total of 493 jobs, £6.7 million worth of wages and contributes £10.7 million to GDP.

5. Grouse are wild birds

Unlike pheasant and partridge, grouse are born and reared out in the wild.

Red grouse

6. Made in Britain

The Red grouse is a native bird, found nowhere else (which makes it particularly attractive to shooters from all over the world). Black grouse are protected.


Grouse moors provide a safe-haven for the endangered curlew

7. Upland birds breed more successfully on moorland managed for Red grouse

Gamekeepers painstakingly manage the moors and millions are spent to give the grouse the best breeding habitat possible. This responsible management actually helps the local environment. Says the GWCT: “Moors managed for Red grouse are shown to be better than other land uses in maintaining heather dominated habitat, and both directly and indirectly support the species that depend on or thrive in it. This is important because 75% of the world’s heather moorland is found in Britain. In addition, many species of upland birds, including curlew, lapwing and golden plover, are more numerous and breed more successfully on moorland managed for Red grouse than on other moorland not managed in this way.”

red grouse flying

8. Grouse nest in and eat heather

Hungry birds, they can work their way through up to 50g of heather daily, preferring the young green shots.



9. Grouse are F1 birds

The Lewis Hamilton of gamebirds, grouse fly low at up to 70 miles an hour and decide to fly in a different direction at a second’s notice. Which is what makes them such a worthy target for skilled guns.

red grouse recipe

Red grouse with liver en croute

10. Grouse is healthy eating

The protein count of roast grouse is twice that of chicken and it has much less fat too. Plus which, it’s free range.

driven grouse shoot

You wear dark colours grouse shooting so you don’t get spotted by the birds

11. The clay range is a good place to practice

Grouse are easily simulated on a clay range as it is easy to copy the way the birds are presented to Guns in real life.

debate driven grouse shooting

12. Grouse shooting technique is different

With other driven types of shooting the gun is pointed into the air – in grouse shooting many of the shots being taken will have the gun flat.