The official start of the grouse season, the Glorious Twelfth , began in Scotland today, with sporting estates hoping for a good season following the difficult years of the pandemic and hot weather during 2021 and 2022.
A grouse day is considered to be the pinnacle of country sports activity, attracting participants from all over the UK and further afield.
At an estate in the Angus Glens, a party of 12 took to the moor.
Becky King, one of the participating guns, said: “I am thrilled to be here for the first day of the season, it is the highlight of my year. For us, the Glorious Twelfth is a celebration of the beauty of Scotland, the heather moors and rural communities coming together to enjoy the ultimate sporting challenge.”
Red grouse are entirely wild birds and the number harvested on any moor will allow for a sustainable population to breed again the following year.
Land management for red grouse benefits other moorland species. The Angus Glens is renowned for its prolific birdlife. In 2018, a conservation team from Germany recorded 103 species thriving on an Angus Estate – including 11 species of birds of prey.
Ross Ewing, Director of Moorland for Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The Glorious Twelfth is a celebration which brings people together in the fresh air to enjoy this time-honoured tradition. Grouse shooting is of huge importance to the rural economy, not just for the estates and the gamekeepers but also local pubs, shops and restaurants that see an influx of visitors coming from now to December. The conservation benefits are also well documented – we need to protect the unique biodiversity of the uplands and the best way to do that is by effective keepering for the grouse sector.”
Among the many businesses that benefit from the grouse season, The Drovers Inn at Memus, near Forfar, is a traditional country inn with an emphasis on premium food.
Manager Kim Orrock said: “The sporting side is definitely very good for us from August and on into the winter months.
“We have shooting parties coming for drinks and meals, which really helps, especially once the main summer season is over. They create a wonderful atmosphere and the ‘feel good factor’ in the bar which is good for everyone coming in to see the place buzzing. We are in the heart of the Angus Glens and it’s important to maintain the traditions and local culture.”
With its sister restaurant, Armstrong’s near Glamis, the business employs 50 people.
Kim continued: “We have 50 staff across the two restaurants and we would not be able to support this number of jobs if it wasn’t for the success of the grouse season and country sports in this area.”
Angus estates supply The Drovers Inn with venison, partridge, pigeon and grouse in season.
Owner of The Drovers Inn, Lindsay Armstrong, said that although the season is short, grouse is very popular when it is on the menu and people like to know that it’s locally sourced.
“We do get asked where our meat comes from and to be able to say that it’s from two miles up the road is a big advantage. Last year we served grouse breast with a red wine sauce and blackberries, which went down a treat. Wedding bookings will often ask if our food is locally sourced so to have game from the neighbouring estate is a selling point for the events side of the business too.”
Grouse moor management supports the equivalent of 2,640 full time jobs and £30 million of revenue for the Scottish economy, mainly in remote rural communities.