It was only a few months ago that there was a cautious note of controlled optimism emanating from the UK’s Grouse Moors. However, and very sadly, whilst the excitement is still high the optimism has dipped somewhat. (Since the Grouse season started on The Glorious 12th we have been hearing…..) Our hearts go out to all those affected who work in the world of Grouse shooting. It is a true labour of love and to suffer back to back years of heartache must be crushing.
It appears the tragic combination of almost plague like densities of heather beetle and freak weeks of heavy rain have devastated the stocks across vast swathes of the UK. The timing of these natural events was most unfortunate too – the combination of low night temperatures and heavy rain caught the chicks at the crucial stage when they were too big to brood but too small to weather the storm on their own. Small and big moors alike have been hit with many reports of poor counts.
This year is another reminder as to how vulnerable these incredibly hardy upland birds can be at certain points in their life cycle. We enjoyed a remarkable record setting run for a number of consecutive seasons – but if you study old Game Books you will see that the grouse numbers peak and trough like an erratic heart monitor. Modern moorland management is, ultimately, no match for mother nature and we are hearing it could be two or three years until stocks fully recover in some areas. However, you never know – that is the magic of Grouse! Late broods could bring still some exciting late season Grouse shooting – we just don’t know.
But…it is not all doom and gloom – some Moors are running a full program, perhaps with slightly reduced bag sizes. So, whilst it certainly won’t be a vintage year we will, hopefully, still see some excellent sport in parts. Gordon is in the Nork Yorkshire Moors as we speak with a team enjoying some excellent sport – whilst Ben is must wait until September until he is up on the moors in the Yorkshire Dales.