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The Glorious Twelfth, What To Wear Grouse Shooting

The Glorious Twelfth, What To Wear Grouse Shooting
Posted in: News & Events, Shooting
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Here comes the glorious twelfth... the Grouse season is almost upon us! Grouse can fly at speeds of up to 80mph and require a great deal of skill to shoot. As a result they are one of most highly prized game birds! I'll guide you through some essentials for grouse shooting plus provide specialist recommendations from the Farlows shooting team, for your day on the moor!

The Grouse Shooting Season: 12th August – 10th December

Red grouse are unique to the uplands of Britain, with their natural habitat being heather moorland. Grouse are wild birds and are not artificially reared. Their survival is dependent on careful moorland management by moorland keepers, the skills often being passed down through generations. Management techniques such as heather burning and bracken control have many positive knock-on benefits to non-game species such as the Curlew and Lapwing, as well as shaping our beautiful uplands.

Grouse Shooting English pointer flushes a grouse. Image Courtesy of Moorland Association


Grouse shooting comprises of two distinct forms – walked up and driven:

Walked Up

This is the less formal version of grouse shooting. Guns usually walk behind dogs (often pointers) with handlers - known as ‘shooting over dogs’- and shoot grouse as they are flushed away from the line. Generally a cheaper form of shooting than driven, costing roughly £70-£80 per brace with small bags. Tipping dog handlers and keepers is a must.

Driven

This is the pinnacle of grouse shooting and arguably the finest driven shooting in the world. Guns are stood in butts – depressions in the ground, often walled and camouflaged with heather and peat. Grouse are driven towards the gun line by a large team of flankers and beaters. Grouse fly fast and low, following the contours of the ground, providing extremely challenging and exciting shooting. The bags are larger than that of walked up with prices of £150-£170 per brace. Tipping depends on the day so it is always best to ask your host or fellow guns if unsure.



If you have been lucky enough to be invited grouse shooting, here are a few tips from the team at Farlows:

Tweed Shooting JacketsClothing

When it comes to clothing for the moor there are three important aspects that should be considered - comfort, protection and camouflage. Some of the best camouflage in the heather is in fact tweed – and at Farlows we stock a wide range of tweed shooting jackets. Our technical range includes; the Laksen and Schoffel tweeds. Each has waterproof and breathable membranes to protect you in any conditions. Another option for milder conditions would be a lightweight vest with bellow pockets for cartridges. If you wish to mix and match your outfit (often the case) then we would be pleased to advise you in store.

Footwear

Bear in mind that you will be walking on some rough terrain, often wet or frozen. If the shooting is walked up we would recommend the Le Chameau Arran walking boots, more mobile than wellingtons and which can be combined with gaiters to protect from ticks, water and rough vegetation.

If the shooting is being done from a butt, standing on cold ground can often be uncomfortable, we would recommend either the insulated Le Chameau Vierzonord or Aigle Parcours ISO wellingtons as these boots combine the normal rubber outer with a thick layer of neoprene to keep your feet warm.

Headgear

Farlows stock a wide range of traditional tweed flat caps – an essential item of clothing on the moor. Both Laksen and Schoffel have flat caps to match their shooting ranges.

Cartridges

A traditional early season Grouse load would be 28g 7’s ranging to heavier 30g 6’s later in the season when the birds are faster and fitter. For this we would recommend Eley VIP Game fibre wad cartridges.

Other Essential Equipment Procedure and safety during the drive
  • CHECK the position of the adjacent butts.
  • ALWAYS use butt sticks to mark your arc of fire.
  • ENSURE that your neighbouring butts are not within your arc of fire – adjust safety frames accordingly.
  • CHECK the butt floor to ensure you have an even footing.
  • ALWAYS acknowledge the position of the flankers with a wave and mark their progress during the drive.
  • COMMUNICATE with your neighbouring guns if visibility is poor when the beaters/or flankers are approaching. WARN your neighbours if they are unaware.
  • NEVER swing through the line, and always be aware that other butts in the line may be at a higher/lower elevation.
  • ENSURE safety catches are on when guns are passed between loaders and guns.
  • ALWAYS make sure that your gun is pointing away from other butts.
  • NEVER fire in front when the beaters are within 150-200 meters of the guns. Generally there will be horn, after which guns may only shoot behind, away from the beaters. Horn should be acknowledged with a wave.
  • NEVER leave the butt during a drive.
  • MARK your birds carefully and remain in the vicinity of your butt after the drive is over until all your birds have been picked.
Grouse RecipeDelicious Grouse Recipe

Grouse is a delicious meat with that classic game flavour. There is nothing better than to respect the game you have shot with a well thought out recipe. Steve Parle’s recipe for roast grouse is simple and easy, however will not fail to impress the taste buds.

View the Telegraph grouse recipe »

Other good game recipes may be found on the BBC Good Food website.

We hope you have a good season!

We'll guide you through some the essentials of grouse shooting plus provide recommendations from the Farlows shooting team, for your day on the moor!

What is the Glorious Twelth?

For those of you who shoot pheasants or clays, you’ll probably know why 12th August is a celebrated day. For those that don’t, it’s the date that marks the start of the grouse season in Britain, with over 40,000 people taking part in grouse shooting every year.

Red grouse are unique to the uplands of Britain, with their natural habitat being heather moorland, itself rarer than rainforest. They are wild birds and are not artificially reared, nesting in the heather and eating their way through about 50g of it every day. Flying at speeds of up to 70mph and changing direction at a second’s notice, they require a great deal of skill to shoot, which is what makes them one of most highly prized game birds.

Red GrouseRed Grouse
The Red Grouse, Image courtesy of BASC

For those of you who shoot pheasants or clays, you’ll probably know why 12th August is a celebrated day. For those that don’t, it’s the date that marks the start of the grouse season in Britain, with over 40,000 people taking part in grouse shooting every year.

Red grouse are unique to the uplands of Britain, with their natural habitat being heather moorland, itself rarer than rainforest. They are wild birds and are not artificially reared, nesting in the heather and eating their way through about 50g of it every day. Flying at speeds of up to 70mph and changing direction at a second’s notice, they require a great deal of skill to shoot, which is what makes them one of most highly prized game birds.

There are two distinct forms of grouse shooting. Walked up is the less formal version, with guns usually walking behind dogs with handlers and shooting grouse as they are flushed away from the line. The pinnacle, however, is driven grouse shooting - arguably the finest driven shooting in the world.

Guns are stood in butts – depressions in the ground, often walled and camouflaged with heather and peat. Grouse are driven towards the gun line by a large team of flankers and beaters. They fly fast and low, following the contours of the ground, providing extremely challenging and exciting shooting.

Why it should be celebrated

Aside from the sporting challenge, grouse shooting brings significant environmental and economic benefits. Grouse survival is dependent on careful moorland management by moorland keepers, the skills often being passed down through generations. Management techniques such as heather burning and bracken control have many positive knock-on benefits to non-game species, as well as shaping our beautiful uplands.

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) says “Moors managed for red grouse are shown to be better than other land uses in maintaining heather dominated habitat, and both directly and indirectly support the species that depend on or thrive in it. This is important because 75% of the world’s heather moorland is found in Britain. In addition, many species of upland birds, including curlew, lapwing and golden plover, are more numerous and breed more successfully on moorland managed for red grouse than on other moorland not managed in this way.” You can find out more from GWCT online at www.gwct.org.uk

Research from the British Association for Shooting & Conservation (BASC) estimates that almost £100 million of time and money is invested into conservation from grouse shooting in England, Wales and Scotland. Furthermore, it strengthens local communities and businesses by supporting the equivalent of over 2,500 full time jobs.

Grouse Shooting on the MoorsGrouse Shooting on the Moors
Image courtesy of BASC

There is a lot of misinformation surrounding grouse shooting, and the BASC are trying to put the record straight with their #NoMoorMyths campaign, which you can read here: Grouse shooting - The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (basc.org.uk)

The amalgamation of sport, conservation and food is linked to everything we do with gun or rod in hand. As a food, grouse is rightly celebrated. It’s prized by chefs and often referred to as “the king of game birds”.  Its meat is rich, versatile and very healthy, with about 5% less fat than chicken and twice the protein. Our friends at Wild & Game have some excellent recipes: Grouse Recipes – Wild And Game

Other good game recipes may be found on the BBC Good Food website.

Pot-Roasted Grouse in a Coconut Curry SaucePot-Roasted Grouse in a Coconut Curry Sauce
Pot-Roasted Grouse in a Coconut Curry Sauce (recipe from Wild And Game)

What to wear grouse shooting

Grouse shooting clothing

When it comes to clothing worn on the moor for grouse shooting, there are a few things that need to be considered: comfort, freedom of movement and camouflage. The most important article of clothing being your shooting coat. At Farlows, we stock a wide range of technical shooting coats, our most popular being the Farlows Litchfield coat.

It comes in a variety of different tweeds but our Green Herringbone tweed is preferred amongst grouse shooters as it offers fantastic dark camouflage with the surrounds of a grouse moor. The Scottish-made, Teflon coated tweed has a fully waterproof and breathable membrane, large bellowed cartridge pockets and a half-raglan sleeve with an action back providing ample movement when shooting.


Farlows Litchfield Coat in Green Herringbone tweedFarlows Litchfield Coat in Green Herringbone tweed
Farlows Litchfield Coat in Green Herringbone tweed
Farlows Moorland Shooting Vest in Green Herringbone tweedFarlows Moorland Shooting Vest in Green Herringbone tweed
Farlows Moorland Shooting Vest in Green Herringbone tweed

For when the weather is milder, as it sometimes can be in the early season (even up on the grouse moors!), we recommend the matching Farlows Moorland shooting vest in Green Herringbone tweed. It also offers great warmth when used as an extra layer under the Litchfield coat on the colder days.

Farlows Green Herringbone tweed collectionFarlows Green Herringbone tweed collection
Farlows Green Herringbone tweed collection

Grouse shooting accessories

We also offer a great range of shooting shirts and ties, knitwear and of course the matching shooting breeks to your coat and vest. Find out more by visiting our full grouse shooting clothing collection.

Grouse shooting footwear

Shooting footwear needs careful consideration, bearing in mind you will be walking through some roughterrain - over heather, often wet and soggy or even frozen ground.

Some grouse shooters opt for wellies, whereas others and the more regular grouse shooter will opt for a pair of Meindl boots. Wearing these boots as opposed to wellies gives you far more support when walking greater distances and across rough terrain.

You’ll find your ankle is well supported avoiding any movement inside the boot meaning you have far better traction.

Our range of Meindl boots features four different styles , and we’d recommend the Meindl Bhutan, Meindl Dovre or the Meindl Dovre Extreme for grouse shooting.

For greater protection from the elements and further support up the ankle and leg, opt for the Dovre Extreme. If well treated with wax regularly, these boots will last you many happy years of shooting.

Meindl Dovre Extreme MFS GTX leather boots worn with gartered socksMeindl Dovre Extreme MFS GTX leather boots worn with gartered socks
Meindl Dovre Extreme MFS GTX leather boots worn with gartered socks

Procedure and safety during the drive

Finally, if you are lucky enough to go grouse shooting this coming season, here’s our advice for keeping everyone safe:

  • CHECK the position of the adjacent butts.
  • ALWAYS use butt sticks to mark your arc of fire.
  • ENSURE that your neighbouring butts are not within your arc of fire – adjust safety frames accordingly.
  • CHECK the butt floor to ensure you have an even footing.
  • ALWAYS acknowledge the position of the flankers with a wave and mark their progress during the drive.
  • COMMUNICATE with your neighbouring guns if visibility is poor when the beaters/or flankers are approaching. WARN your neighbours if they are unaware.
  • NEVER swing through the line, and always be aware that other butts in the line may be at a higher/lower elevation.
  • ENSURE safety catches are on when guns are passed between loaders and guns.
  • ALWAYS make sure that your gun is pointing away from other butts.
Image courtesy of WGCTImage courtesy of WGCT
Image courtesy of WGCT

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