Twelve Glorious Grouse Facts

Posted on 13th Jul 2017 Categories: Shooting

It’s nearly that time of year again and the excitement here at House of Cheviot is palpable. Yes, you’ve guessed it – we’re on countdown to the Glorious Twelfth (more commonly known as August 12th). The date marks the start of the red grouse season in the UK and is one of the most anticipated dates in the field sports calendar.

I’ll be honest with you; my Glorious Twelfth knowledge was limited therefore I started my research in earnest over breakfast this morning. I found myself completely engrossed in articles and facts, so much so, I was almost late for work… However, with my new-found information, I’ve decided to share twelve glorious facts about the day with you.

1. Grouse shooting can be traced back 164 years to 1853. It started to gain in popularity when the railways allowed easier access to the moors.

2. Red grouse are native to Britain making them extremely sought-after birds. People from all over the world flock to the UK (and pay very large sums of money) to shoot them.

3. It’s illegal to shoot grouse on a Sunday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Even though there are no laws against it in Scotland it has been adopted as a custom which is strictly adhered to. In 2012 when the Glorious Twelfth fell on a Sunday, it had to be moved to August 13th.

4. The grouse population in the UK is estimated to be around 500,000 – approximately the population of Edinburgh.

5. Red grouse are not artificially reared for shooting like pheasants and partridges. Gamekeepers manage the moorlands to maximise the number of available birds. From year to year numbers fluctuate due to the conditions.

6. The red grouse is Scotland’s national game bird and was the mascot of the rugby team between 1990 and 2017.

7. Red grouse can fly at speeds of up to 80mph, often low and have a habit of changing direction. They pose a supreme shooting challenge!

8. The Game Act of 1831 specifies the red grouse shooting season must run from the 12th August through to 10th December.

9. Grouse meat is so highly sought-after that restaurants (predominantly) in London pay a premium for grouse to be flown down from elsewhere in the UK on the Glorious Twelfth so they can serve them for dinner that evening. Grouse has a third of the fat and twice the protein of chicken – not only tasty but extremely healthy too!

10. As well as eating seeds and berries, grouse eat up to 50g of heather a day. This could become problematic for the birds soon as heather moorland is now rarer than rainforest, according to the Moorland Association.

11. There are 459 grouse moors in the UK which is 75 per cent of what is left worldwide.

12. Grouse shooting generates about £150 million for the economy every year. The shooting industry has generated approximately 2,500 full time jobs – from gamekeepers and beaters to people in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Do you have any interesting facts or humorous stories relating to the Glorious Twelfth? If so, I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing everyone a safe and enjoyable season ahead. 30 sleeps and counting…

Ashley