The grouse shooting season throughout England, Wales and Scotland ended on the 10th December, and it is at the end of the season that we should take stock of the hard work that has been undertaken by all those individuals and businesses involved.
After a very poor season in 2015 in the Peak District, 2016 saw a considerable improvement, with many moors shooting their full programme of up to 12 days. According to Jim Sutton, the National Gamekeepers Organisation Regional Chairman for South and West Yorkshire, the return of the much needed income that driven grouse shooting provides has been a great help to local businesses and locals alike.
“A typical shoot day will see up to 50 paid helpers on the moor, from students in the beating line, to retired people from all walks of life on the flank. The economic benefits of this are plain to see, but the social aspects are often overlooked.
“Last week I received a phone call from the mother of one of our young beaters asking for dates for next season, as she wanted to make sure that the annual family holiday didn’t coincide with the shooting season. She told me that her son enjoyed the days so much that he wants to come next year, that his confidence has increased, and that the responsibility placed upon him to get himself up and organised for a day on the moor is something that will help him in the future”.
For many in our upland communities, grouse shooting is the main economic driver, benefiting numerous people and rural businesses that are involved both directly and indirectly. With grouse being a totally wild bird, there are some years when a poor breeding season can result in insufficient stocks to allow any shooting to take place, the knock on effect of this on upland communities can be significant.
Overall, it has been a good season in the North Yorkshire Moors, with the western moors significantly up on last season, while grouse numbers on the eastern side were similar to those in 2015.
A spokesperson for the North Yorkshire Moors Moorland Organisation said:
“In the main, there was some great weather, and an abundance of enthusiastic local people transformed into beaters, flankers, pickers up and loaders, all playing their part in making each shoot day a success. As always the local economy also benefited greatly from this, as it does every successful shoot season, and long may this continue, as the additional visitors brought to the area, staying in our hotels, spending their money with local business’s, and enjoying our beautiful countryside is extremely important.”
Adrian Blackmore, Director of Shooting for the Countryside Alliance, said:
“For many people living in our uplands, grouse shooting is an integral part in their lives. Not just economically – though this is a major consideration when alternative opportunities for employment can be few and far between – but also socially. Shooting is not just about landowners, employees, or individual interests – it is about whole communities, it is woven into the fabric of our upland communities.”