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Grouse numbers – how are they looking?

There are hopes that the grouse season should be a good one this year, thanks to the rain coming just in time to break the dry spell, report Patrick Galbraith and Felix Petit

grouse moor

Rain came just in time for grouse across Britain

In recent years, grouse shooting across Britain has been a bit of a mute affair. There have been days here and there and reasonable bags have been shot, but it’s tended to be a far cry from the boom years of the mid-2010s, when 400-brace days were pretty standard on Britain’s premier moors.

This year, however, keepers and sporting agents are optimistic that things are looking up. Ollie Severn, a sporting agent at William Powell Sporting, told ST: “Relatively speaking it’s going to be a good year, but that is in the context of a few poor years.” He noted that those estates that had good pair counts in spring will probably have a good season. Although there was a dry spell, Ollie explained that “we did get a bit of moisture at the right time”. It follows that the North Pennines and other generally wet places are going to have the best of it.

Interestingly, Ollie told ST that worm has been a bit of a problem. The worms, which are gut parasites, are spread through the grouse’s faecal matter — when they congregate around water sources, the worms spread. It follows that when the weather is dry and drinking spots are fewer, large numbers of grouse gather and worm runs rife.

Tom Payne, who loads on lots of the country’s smartest moors, told ST that his clients are expecting to pay up to £210 a brace this season. As ever, when it comes to numbers, it’s the boys on the ground who really know what’s going on. A lot of keepers are just finishing their counts or are halfway through them. Patrick Laurie, keen Shot, ST contributor and passionate grouse conservationist, told us that things “are looking good to be honest. I’ve got good broods and I’ve seen pictures of broods of nine or 10”.