This is the Glorious Twelfth, the first day of the grouse-shooting season. The sport is concentrated in north east England and Scotland, where it makes a significant contribution to the economy. Like all blood sports, grouse-shooting is no stranger to controversy. However, the increasing demand for the end-product seems likely to ensure its survival. Within hours of the first shots being fired on the northern moors, the race is on to ship the birds to restaurants in London and elsewhere in time for lunch or dinner….!
British law says that the start of the season cannot fall on a Sunday and so it is sometimes postponed to 13 August (as in 2001 and 2007). As grouse are not – and never have been – reared to any extent for shooting, their numbers fluctuate naturally from year to year. In recent years, the Glorious Twelfth has also been hit by hunt saboteurs, the 2001 foot and mouth crisis (which further postponed the date in affected areas), the effect of sheep tick, heather beetle and severe flooding and bad weather. In some seasons where certain moors are hit by low numbers of grouse, shooting may not occur at all or be over by September.
Has anyone looked into the number of ‘grouse shooters’ recorded in the censuses? Another interesting piece of research to look into…. Must stop writing these blogs!