Tuesday, 2 August 2016

It's glorious!

Silhouette of a grouse in a field with the sun behind
CC0 image from Pixabay

No, not the day when we get to moan about all those little things which annoy us in our daily life!

In Scotland the 12th of August is the day the grouse shooting season begins. Known as the 'Glorious Twelfth' this day is eagerly awaited by those of the huntin', shootin', fishin' fraternity who are prepared to pay considerable sums of cold, hard cash for the privilege of bagging a few brace of one of Scotland's game birds - the red grouse.

In fact, there are some eye-watering numbers involved in a day's grouse shooting: up to £180 per brace (two birds) and a two-day shoot for a party of eight could cost their host something approaching £50,000 - definitely a rich man's sport!

A bird of the heather moor, red grouse are regarded as the 'king of game birds' and are found only in Scotland, Ireland and the north of England. There is a tradition that the first grouse shot in a season are rushed to expensive London restaurants with top chefs waiting anxiously for their delivery of the newly-killed birds in a race to see who can get the first grouse dish on the table to be consumed by eager diners who will have booked months in advance at prices approaching £100 per person.

Fast cars, trains, airplanes and helicopters will all be on standby at dawn on the 12th, waiting for the sound of the guns to herald the start of the 121-day grouse shooting season and when the first birds are downed and retrieved by the waiting dogs the race is on! Great excitement is generated by this tradition (it even makes the national news) but it is mainly a public relations stunt because grouse, like all game birds, taste better after they've been 'hung' for a few days (which apparently allows bacteria to do its work and mature the meat - yuk!).

Since grouse cannot be farmed in the same way that chickens are a huge industry (for industry it is) has developed to maintain grouse moors where the birds can thrive and live peaceful lives - until the 12th of August each year that is!

During the grouse shooting season about 40,000 'guns' will come from all over the world to contribute to this industry which employs directly and indirectly about 2500 people and generates in total some £150 million for the UK economy and regardless what we may think of killing animals for 'sport' that is a considerable sum and means that this traditional 'sport' is likely to continue for as long as there are grouse to shoot.

Personally, I'd rather open a tin of soup!

Some information from Wikipedia and in-text links.