William Powell Country

Grouse Prospects 2017


Article written by 22 August 2017

The Twelfth is now upon us! It is a time when everyone involved in Grouse Shooting, whether it be Owners, Keepers, Letting Agents and a vast amount of Shoot Day staff, are all thinking how good or bad is the season actually going to be? The answer this year is mixed, but with the definite emphasis on good to very good, but there are areas of Moorland where the Grouse have not done very well at all. How will it fare where you may be going?

Starting from the South, it looks as though the Peak District will be pretty good. Not epic, but with a nice lot of Grouse over most of the Moors and on some, particularly on the eastern side, probably a good lot. Further North, the Pennine Chain which is the mainstay of grouse shooting in England looks generally good to very good, but surprisingly there are some weaker spots. It was thought that the late May rain (after a very dry spring) had done the damage in trimming up brood sizes, probably because with large broods, some of the chicks could not find shelter under the hen when it rained, particularly at night. Whilst there has certainly been some chick losses (but probably much more in Scotland than in England), the fact that some Moors including some notable ones, have got considerable variation in the number of Grouse over different parts of the in Moor, probably isn’t explained by weather alone.

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Grouse Chicks


If it was just weather, it would be logical for those Moors on the West side of the country to have fared rather worse than those on the East. However, there are very good reports coming out of the Trough of Bowland and indeed on some of the high West Pennine Moors in Swaledale and Wharfedale, Nidderdale may perversely have fared less well. A picture of optimism seems to be pervading over much of the North Pennines area including Moors. The Cumbria/West Northumberland border is looking good to very good indeed. Further east, it is much much more variable. There are plenty of Moors feeling very optimistic, but with one or two have counts which are well below where they would like or indeed expect them to be this year.

The North Yorks Moors generally look good to very good, but again with one or two weaker patches. It is however in Scotland where the picture becomes much more unpredictable. The Lammermuirs looks as good as it has been for many years, but the Moorfoots which are close by the Lammermuirs, are definitely not looking great and whilst there are reports of good quantities of grouse through the middle part of Scotland including Perthshire, there are also reports of a number of Moors with counts well below where they would like them to be. Inverness-shire is even more mixed with some excellent reports, including on the high ground close to the A9, but even within a few miles of Moors which have got very good counts, there are others who have experienced very poor counts and cancellations have been coming in all week throughout the Highlands including on Deeside and Donside. Overall therefore, it is extremely variable in Scotland with some excellent prospects, but also a surprising number will most likely be poor to very poor, which is a massive disappointment after all the work that has gone in over the past 10 months or so.

Grouse numbers

Early Season Grouse


Over all the Moorland parts of the UK, we think that this is going to be a better than average season and in many places could be a very good one. The current cool and blustery weather is just what we need for tomorrow when shooting begins. Despite those heading for the coast or in their garden wanting it hot and still, those trying to drive grouse (or walk them up), would much prefer the current weather.

It seems that we have seriously ruffled Dr. Mark Avery’s feathers! In our last update, we predicted that if Dr. Avery and his cohorts were able to restrict or ban Grouse Shooting, he would then turn his attentions to trying to restrict or ban Pheasant and Partridge Shooting. Recently online he has vehemently said that that is not the case and he will merely turn his attention to other things. From the reaction we have had, there does not seem to be many people in the shooting community who are prepared to believe Dr. Avery. We wonder why! We and they are absolutely certain that if our opponents were in any way able to adversely affect Grouse Moor Management and Grouse Shooting, they would very quickly then turn their attentions to Low Ground Shooting, whatever Avery says. If you read his blog it merely confirms how much he dislikes shooting and those people who go shooting. This is a time of the year when we urge everyone who shoots whether it be at Grouse, Pheasants, Partridges, Wildfowl, Pigeon or vermin, to do everything they possibly can to support the shooting cause and all our shooting organisations. We should not forget that we have only just had the first Parliamentary Debate on trying to ban a part of Game Shooting and whilst we are fortunate that our opponents have not been successful so far, there is every likelihood that they will try and come back at us again. In short, we should not believe Dr Avery when he says he will not try and restrict or ban forms of shooting other than Grouse.

Mark Osborne

Mark Osborne - FRICS, FAAV, MBAE

Mark Osborne is founder and Managing Director of JM Osborne & Co. and has been a qualified Chartered Surveyor and Land Agent for over 30 years. He trained on two large traditional landed estates (Chatsworth and Castle Ashby), before s.. Read more.

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