Grouse season on hold?

GLORIOUS 12TH PREVIEW PHOTOCALL , GROUSE SHOOTING Horseupcleugh, Berwickshire.   ESTATE OWNED BY Robbie Douglas Miller FORMERLY OF JENNERS.  '''Ian Elliot - Grouse Keeper at Horseupcleugh , pictured with a gun and pointing dogs , on the grouse shoot.  posing with a gun. '''   PHOTO PHIL WILKINSON / TSPL
GLORIOUS 12TH PREVIEW PHOTOCALL , GROUSE SHOOTING Horseupcleugh, Berwickshire. ESTATE OWNED BY Robbie Douglas Miller FORMERLY OF JENNERS. '''Ian Elliot - Grouse Keeper at Horseupcleugh , pictured with a gun and pointing dogs , on the grouse shoot. posing with a gun. ''' PHOTO PHIL WILKINSON / TSPL

Prospects for this season’s grouse shooting that starts in 12 days time are looking good across the Borders according to estate managers.

With less than two weeks until the start of the Grouse Shooting season, Ewan Harris of Sales and Partners who work with a number of estates across the Borders and further afield, says they are gearing up for a busy season.

Early indications are that the 2013 season is promising, with encouraging reports from keepers in the Lammermuirs - a welcome improvement on last year, which was one of the wettest seasons in history.

Shooting estate managers on the country’s grouse moors have started their formal counts of stocks which will give a more definitive picture in the lead up to the ‘Glorious Twelfth’.

Ewan said: “Despite the horrendous wet weather last year the autumn grouse stocks that were left have performed well. Some struggled in the cold spring with the frosts and late snow and understandably broods were 2-3 weeks late in hatching out. Brood sizes are smaller than usual but the dry mild summer has meant that survival rates of these broods have been excellent.

“There are some concerns that the stocks will not have reached maturity in time for the Glorious Twelfth so we may see some shoots postponing until later in August.

“Grouse grow up in their natural environment on the moors and rely on young heather as a food source and fresh water. We are currently in the hottest and driest period in almost a decade, which is making it very difficult for the birds to find water on the dry moors. Keepers are concerned; lack of water is becoming a real issue, and only time will show how far these birds have wandered in search of water.

“Without a doubt the 2013 grouse season will be enjoyed by many on the 459 grouse moors across the UK and let us hope that for a short while during the next three weeks we do see some rainfall to ensure that it becomes a truly memorable season.”

Byrecleuch and Rawburn enjoyed an excellent grouse season last year and for Horseupcleugh it proved to be a record year.

Quite why 2012 turned out to be such a good season despite the appalling weather is still up for discussion although many people maintain that the hen grouse were in very good condition when they started to nest (before the heavy rain) enabling them to rear good coveys.

Keepers who put in the extra effort were rewarded and advances in grouse medication helped a to maintain large populations of over-wintering grouse in good condition.