The Glorious 12th: 12 facts about the first day of the grouse shooting season

The start of the grouse shooting season – the Glorious 12th – is here. Charlotte Peters of Shooting UK explains everything you need to know.

1. It’s all thanks to the train

steam train in Borders

Grouse shooting got going when the Victorians built railways that made it easier to get up onto the moors, back in the mid-19th century. Suddenly you could travel relatively comfortably with all your equipment and your gundogs. Around the same time, the breech-loading shotgun was invented, with a prepared cartridge. These two factors combined to create the pastime grouse shooters know and love.

2. It’s supported by the UK Government

The UK Government was recently petitioned to ban driven grouse shooting. In response, it finally released a statement recognising that: “When carried out in accordance with the law, grouse shooting for sport is a legitimate activity and in addition to its significant economic contribution, providing jobs and investment in some of our most remote areas, it can offer important benefits for wildlife and habitat conservation”.

3. Grouse shooters wear dark colours

grouse shooting

Gamekeepers from the Angus Glens Moorland Group in Edinburgh

It’s because they don’t want to be spotted by the birds. They need to blend in with the surroundings.

4. It’s a valuable source of local revenue

According to recent research by the GWCT, grouse shooting on 140 “core” grouse estates in Scotland is likely to support a total of 493 jobs, £6.7 million worth of wages and contributes £10.7 million to GDP.

5. Grouse are wild birds

Red grouse

Unlike pheasant and partridge, grouse are born and reared out in the wild.

6. Made in Britain

The Red grouse is a native bird, found nowhere else (which makes it particularly attractive to shooters from all over the world). Black grouse are protected.

7. Upland birds breed more successfully on moorland managed for Red grouse


Grouse moors provide a safe-haven for the endangered curlew

Gamekeepers painstakingly manage the moors and millions are spent to give the grouse the best breeding habitat possible. This responsible management actually helps the local environment.

Says the GWCT: “Moors managed for Red grouse are shown to be better than other land uses in maintaining heather dominated habitat, and both directly and indirectly support the species that depend on or thrive in it. This is important because 75% of the world’s heather moorland is found in Britain. In addition, many species of upland birds, including curlew, lapwing and golden plover, are more numerous and breed more successfully on moorland managed for Red grouse than on other moorland not managed in this way.”

8. Grouse nest in and eat heather

red grouse flying

Hungry birds, they can work their way through up to 50g of heather daily, preferring the young green shots.

9. Grouse are the F1 drivers of the avian world

Peregrine falcons are the fighter pilots of the bird world with their 200mph dives, but grouse are Lewis Hamiltons: they fly low at up to 70 miles an hour and can change direction at a second’s notice. It’s what makes them such a worthy target for skilled guns.

10. Grouse is healthy eating

red grouse recipe

Red grouse with liver en croute

The protein count of roast grouse is twice that of chicken and it has much less fat too. Plus which, it’s free range.

11. The clay range is a good place to practice

driven grouse shoot

Grouse are easily simulated on a clay range as it is easy to copy the way the birds are presented to Guns in real life.

12. Grouse shooting technique is different

debate driven grouse shooting

With other driven types of shooting the gun is pointed into the air – in grouse shooting many of the shots being taken will have the gun flat.