The Great Grouse Run 2018

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The opening of the new shooting season is always a very important time of the year for our business and an integral part of the countryside calendar. Traditionally the day falls on the 12th August or the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ as its commonly known, however as we don’t shoot on Sundays the day has fallen on the 13th.

Regarded as the "king" of game birds, red grouse are incredibly sought after and represent a supreme shooting challenge - anyone fortunate enough to be out on the first day of the season will be involved with something truly unique.

The 2018 grouse season is now set to be one of the weakest in a very long time, a combination of factors including some intense periods of extreme weather means many moors have decided not to shoot for the whole of August and in some circumstances have cancelled their seasons altogether.

Ian Coley Sporting hosted two days on the beautiful and productive moors of Hawnby and Arden on the North Yorkshire Moors - an area which is famed worldwide for its quality of grouse, pheasant and partridge shooting. Despite very poor grouse counts across the country this area of moorland has remained healthy with good stocks of young grouse.

The first day of the season is always highly anticipated, especially for the keepers and managers who have worked tirelessly to make the day possible – it’s the culmination of nearly 9 months’ work to bring it all together. It’s also a very important time for upland communities with nearby sporting estates providing essential income.

We rose to thick fog – always a concern on the first day of the season, but soon after 8.30am it cleared and turned into another beautiful summers day, good breeze with patchy cloud. Perhaps not the absolute ideal for driven grouse but better than the rain which most of the country was experiencing!

The grouse flew beautifully through the lines of butts all morning and some truly memorable sport was enjoyed by all. The vast sea of rolling heather is breath-taking in August as you’ll see in the photos, and the display of flora and fauna gives you an idea of the diverse ecosystem associated with a well-managed moor.

The first grouse of the season are prized in culinary circles and this season we were very lucky to be involved with the Great Grouse Run 2018. Freshly shot grouse from the first two drives were put on ice and whisked down to the Cotswolds to be enjoyed that evening at the Wheatsheaf Inn, Northleach. The traditional way to enjoy grouse is to roast the bird whole with the feet with game chips and bread sauce and the Wheatsheaf didn’t disappoint, selling out by the end of service. In light of recent attacks on our sport, it’s fundamental to the sustainability of shooting in the 21st century that all shot game is consumed and nothing is left to waste. This excellent example of field to fork consumption of game must be championed.

The excellent weather and good growing conditions with recent rain mean that the pheasant and partridge season should be off to a very promising start. I will bring you the latest report from the first autumnal day at partridge in September.

Edward Darbishire

Ian Coley Sporting has been organising exceptional shooting trips for over 45+ years.