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The UK shooting season opens in style

The long-awaited opening of the new shooting season is an integral part of the countryside calendar, and one that is met with much excitement by all involved. The traditional ‘Glorious Twelfth’ this year fell on a Sunday, which meant the highly anticipated first day of grouse shooting had to wait until the 13th of August.

The first day of the season represents a culmination of 9 months of hard work by Gamekeepers and Estate management teams who have worked tirelessly to make the day possible. The financial benefit from sporting estates is received throughout upland communities, with many remote areas benefiting from heightened business during the shooting season.

Often regarded as the “king” of game birds, Red Grouse represent a supreme shooting challenge, one which for many is a highlight of the sporting year. However due to the extreme weather experienced this year leading to unfavourable breeding conditions, the 2018 grouse season is now set to be one of the weakest in a very long time. This has led to many moors rescheduling days until later in the year, and in some circumstances cancelling their seasons altogether. Anyone fortunate enough to be out on the first day of the season will be involved with something truly unique.

Ian Coley Sporting hosted two days on the beautiful and productive moors of Hawnby and Arden on the North Yorkshire Moors – an area which is famed worldwide for its quality of grouse, pheasant and partridge shooting. Despite the majority of the country experiencing very poor grouse counts, this area of moorland has remained healthy with good numbers of young Grouse.

Thick fog presented us with a real concern early in the morning, however this was soon replaced by a beautiful summers day, with a good breeze and patchy cloud. Far from ideal for driven grouse, but an improvement from the rain which most of the country was experiencing!

The grouse flew beautifully through the lines of butts all morning and some truly memorable sport was enjoyed by all. The vast sea of rolling heather is breath-taking in August as you’ll see in the photos, and the display of flora and fauna gives some idea of the diverse ecosystem associated with a well-managed moor.

The first grouse of the season are prized in culinary circles and this season we were very lucky to be involved with the ‘Great Grouse Run 2018’. Fresh grouse from the first two drives were put on ice and whisked down to the Cotswolds, to be enjoyed that evening at the Wheatsheaf Inn in Northleach. The traditional way to enjoy grouse is to roast the bird whole and serve with game chips and bread sauce – The Wheatsheaf didn’t disappoint, selling out by the end of service.

In light of recent attacks on our sport, it is fundamental to the sustainability of shooting in the 21st century that all shot game is consumed and nothing is left to waste. This excellent example of field to fork consumption of game must be championed.

The excellent weather and good growing conditions with recent rain mean that the pheasant and partridge season should be off to a very promising start.

Edward Darbishire

Ian Coley Sporting has been organising exceptional shooting trips for over 45 years.


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