In just a few days’ time – on 12th August -, the grouse shooting season will begin again, meaning hundreds of thousands of these moorland birds will be blasted out of the sky.
Grouse shooting takes place on the UK’s uplands, with the main areas in England being the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors and the North Pennines as well as the Lammermuir Hills and the Cairngorms in Scotland.
Despite its prevalence across many areas of Northern England and Scotland, the tide is definitely turning against this hugely damaging bloodsport. Just last month, the UK’s largest water company, United Utilities, announced that it would not renew any leases for grouse shooting on its land once they run out. This momentous decision would make a huge chunk of the North West shoot-free and could mean that around 30 shoots close down. One of these, a shooting syndicate near Burnley that has had the pleasure of being hit by saboteurs, is calling it a day after this coming season as a result.
What to look for
There are two types of grouse shoot: ‘driven’ and ‘walked up’. Driven grouse shooting is where the shooters – known as ‘guns’ stand static in shooting butts whilst a long line of beaters scare grouse towards the line of waiting shotguns. ‘Walked up’ shoots tend to be smaller and involves the guns walking across moorland and shooting at birds as they are scared into the air.
Keep an eye out for large groups of people dressed in tweed congregating on and around the moors. The shooters will obviously be carrying shotguns whereas the beaters will be carrying flags to ‘beat’ with.
Also look out for large groups of 4×4 vehicles parked off road on or near moorland – this is a tell-tale sign that grouse shooters are on the moors nearby.
These bloodsport enthusiasts often take lunch at a nearby country pub so be sure to check pubs for tweed-clad Hooray Henrys and their car parks for clusters of 4x4s.
What to do
If you see any of the above, contact the HSA’s hotline on 07443 148 426 with a precise location of the shoot. Our eyes and ears across the countryside have saved so many lives!
Grouse shooting almost exclusively takes place on land that is open access and shoots invariably pack up on the mere sight of sabs due to the fact that firearms are involved.
The HSA has a long history of smashing the grouse shoots and we don’t intend to stop anytime soon!