The red grouse is usually found in heather moorland in Scotland and is reddish brown with black tail and white legs. Males tend to be more reddish in colour than the females with white stripes on the underwing and red combs over the eyes. Red grouse are native to the British Isles being found mainly in the North of England and throughout Scotland. Grouse are a common sight on the lowland hills of Scotland as they prefer upland heather moors and feed almost exclusively on the shoots, seeds and flowers of heather, as well as some insects.
The red grouse is categorised as a "game" bird and can produce challenging sport both driven shooting and walked up shooting, as well as being good to eat. The grouse hunting season starts on August 12, known universally as "The Glorious Twelfth" and ends on December 10.
Driven grouse is usually shot by 8 - 10 guns that are positioned in a line of "butts" stretching across the moor. Traditional Scottish butts are made from stone and more recently with wooden panels so that the guns can crouch down out of sight until the birds approach. The grouse are driven towards the guns by a team of beaters and dogs, birds flying low and extremely fast, making for exciting, challenging shooting. There would typically be 5 - 7 drives per day with numbers shot ranging from 20 - 200 brace (pairs, i.e 40 - 400 grouse), and costs are less than £75.00 per bird.
Walked up grouse are usually shot by a team of 4 - 8 guns walking in a line with the beaters and dogs across the moor, shooting at the birds as they take off and fly. This type of grouse shooting is more physically demanding than a driven day with a smaller number of birds shot. Typically 5 - 20 brace (10 - 40 birds). Costs are less than driven days at £40 - £50 per bird.
Grouse numbers were steadily declining in Scotland for a while due to a variety of factors; endoparasites (the strongyle worm), loss of heather habitat to sheep and forestry, and viral disease (louping ill carried by ticks). However due to improved conservation and medication, numbers seem to be increasing.
The red grouse is a completely wild bird and not reared then released as are pheasant and partridge. The available numbers vary from year to year, often affected by weather conditions and other factors. Estates work hard to manage their moors at great expense, and grouse shooting in Scotland remains the pinnacle of game shooting for many sportsmen.
Exclusively Scottish can tailor make shooting packages for novices, single guns, couples, small groups and teams, or even customise an entire shooting based holiday for you. So if you're visiting Scotland for a holiday get in touch and we'd be happy to help!