Prospects for the forthcoming Grouse Season 2017
Mark Osborne looks at the elements that can affect the Season ahead
It is extremely difficult in May to accurately forecast what the grouse are going to be like in August, but if the weather continues as it has been for the past two months, then we are on course for a good to very good 2017 Grouse season. However, the likelihood that what has in the main been an extremely dry winter and early spring, continuing through the critical end of May and June weeks seems rather remote. That is the daily worry for all those who are actively involved with Grouse. It does not really matter what the weather is like in February, March and April, but it is crucial once we get into the third and fourth weeks of May, that the weather stays reasonably clement. We do not need it to be without rain. Indeed, very dry springs and early summers tend to be poor for many Grouse moors as you need humidity to get the vital insect hatch which young grouse need for the first few days of their lives. Also, moisture is an inherent part of egg incubation.
What however we do not want is incessant rain, combined with cold ambient temperatures, which continue for longish periods of time. This is what happened to moors on the west side of England (and Scotland) in 2012. Grouse will tolerate remarkably adverse weather (bearing in mind that they are sub-arctic birds), provided that in the case of wet weather, chicks can dry out when the rain stops. If however it rains all day and all night, then losses start to occur. Similarly if broods are big (larger than 6’s or 7’s), it is very difficult for all the young grouse (what we might call “poults”) to shelter under the hen, particularly when they reach 3+ weeks old, there just is not enough room and those outwith the hen get chilled and often die. Grouse keepers are a bit like farmers, whatever weather they have is never quite good enough!
Overall this spring, grouse stocks are looking good to very good on most moors and that is the most important starting point to determine what happens the following season. If we then have good weather during the critical weeks (and generally by the end of June, most grouse are beyond being bothered too much by adverse weather), we should be in for a very good season.
With the weak Pound, demand has definitely increased from abroad for driven Grouse shooting. Unusually in today’s market William Powell Sporting has two or three modest days’ driven grouse shooting available in September this year, but we expect strong interest in them, so please contact us soon, if you are interested.