The Glorious 12th – more commonly known as 12th August – will soon be upon us, marking the official start of the red grouse shooting season in the UK. The sport and the specific date have been an integral part of the countryside calendar for many years and plays an important role in Scotland’s economy. However, in recent years the 121-day-long shooting season has been at the centre of clashes between conservationists and the game industry.
Whether you like it or loathe it, we have put together 12 facts about the Glorious 12th to keep you in the know:
Don’t be deceived, grouse are very speedy
Also known as the ‘king’ of game birds, red grouse can fly up to 70 miles per hour representing a particularly interesting challenge for any experienced shooter.
Grouse eat A LOT of heather
A typical grouse can eat up to 50g of heather a day, as well as berries and seeds. Although they eat the younger green shoots, they tend to nest and shelter in the older heather.
Grouse shooting can be traced back 160 years
Victorians started the trend of grouse shooting, going back to 1853 when the railways started to provide easier access to the moors.
Red grouse are native to Britain
Red grouse are unique to Britain with its closest relative, the willow grouse, found throughout northern Europe, Asia, Canada and Alaska.
It is not a sport reserved for the Highlands
Although the Glorious 12th is most commonly associated with the Scottish Highlands, red grouse shooting also takes place in Wales, Northern Ireland and parts of Northern England.
Grouse have an unusual call
Red grouse have a distinctive call that sounds like ‘Go back! Go back! Go back!’ as they fly low over the heather.
‘To grouse’ has another meaning
The verb ‘to grouse’ originally meant ‘to complain or grumble’ and dates to the late 19th century.
Grouse are safe on Sundays
It’s illegal to shoot grouse – as well as many other game birds – on the Sundays. The law about Sunday shooting is laid out in the Game Act of 1831 (it’s not against the law in Scotland but the custom is still adopted.)
Grouse shooting is big business
Grouse shooting generates around £30 million each year for the Scottish economy
The sport is increasingly controversial
Environmentalists and conservationists are in disagreement with landowners regarding the welfare of other species and surrounding habitat. Gamekeepers claim that responsible grouse management actually helps the environment.
Grouse are wild
Grouse are not artificially reared for shooting. Instead gamekeepers manage the moors to maximise the number of birds available so that the numbers can fluctuate year to year.
Red grouse are associated with Scotland