The grouse always start the season with a bang, but this year, due to a harsh spring and prolonged periods of frost in February, March and even some moors having snow in April, the hatch of grouse was slightly late – up to three weeks on some moors. Thankfully the early season grouse, who had been slightly behind, soon caught up and there was fabulous shooting in September and October with high bags being achieved. Most moors tried to leave a healthy stock on the ground to breed with for 2014 and only time will tell if they all manage to survive and provide us with another sensational season. Moors to note were Bowes, Allenheads and Muggleswick, Swinton, Raby and Bransdale as well as some of the Scottish moors.
The favourable summer allowed an excellent rearing season and good game crops were found throughout the UK, unlike 2012. Some might claim that the dry conditions led birds to wander early on but there seems to have been an abundance of birds on most shoots and the only variable was in early January, when the warm sunny weather encouraged birds to spend more time away from their feeders and, therefore, they would not be in the drives. If you returned to the same drive on a damp and miserable day then there may be twice as many birds as on a sunny day – you can’t have everything! Estates to note for next year were Queensbury/Drumlanrig, Miltons, Wellshead, Kirby, Hambledon and Cruwys Morchard.
All in all this has been another great season – the weather has been kind to guns and the birds have provided great sport. We look forward in anticipation to next season already.