Many in the fieldsports community predict a quiet grouse shooting season ahead, though numbers may pick up later in the year.
The grouse season has got off to a quiet start with most moors not shooting at all on the 12th and many expecting no significant shooting for the whole season. The now traditional 12th of August political and media bunfight was also much more muted than has been the case in recent years. The Scottish press carried a few stories from anti-shooting campaigners and Farming Today ran a short segment on grouse shooting at 5.45 am.
However neither side launched a major media offensive. The Daily Mirror managed to run an anti-shooting story however puzzlingly it chose to run it on the 15th of August. The Sun also slipped up illustrating a very short anti grouse shooting piece with a picture of a pheasant. On the ground the weather was good in the North of England where some of the estates kicked the season off with full driven days. Among those beating was Jake Taylor.
Jake told Shooting Times how it felt to be on the beating line after a season off. Jake said: “Purple heather in front of me, flag in hand, it felt good to be out on the moors again. It won’t be the season we would have hoped for but we will enjoy the season we do have.” In Galloway, where numbers are poor, Peter Haufe took his gun and dog for a walk, saying: “I have shot a grouse on the 12th for five years and this 12th I shot a grouse, one grouse, probably my only grouse this year.”
Perhaps encouraged by the sunshine in North Yorkshire, Saboteurs targeted shoots, with almost a hundred black clad protestors targeting a number of shoots in the area between Kirkby Stephen and Richmond. While protestors succeeded in disrupting the day and did some damage, all the shoots managed at least part of a day. A few days later the saboteurs returned to target a shoot near Holmfirth where they were dealt with by the police.
The season looks set to be a very quiet one though shooting may pick up later in the year. Shooting and gamekeeping groups will be hoping that for once the political atmosphere is equally tranquil.