Fun Facts About the Glorious Twelfth
Glorious Twelfth Glorious Twelfth It is still over a month away, but no doubt all avid shooters are counting down the days to August 12th, otherwise known as the Glorious Twelfth, the official start to Britain’s grouse shooting season. The sport and that specific date have been an integral part of the countryside calendar for many years.
In addition to getting your country clothing and shooting accessories ready for the shooting season, here is what else you need to know about the Glorious Twelfth:
- Grouse are incredibly fast
Regarded as the ‘king’ game birds, red grouse are incredibly sought after and represent a great shooting challenge. Flying low, at up to 70 miles per hour, grouse often have a habit of changing direction at the last minute, which means it is no wonder they require a high level of skills to shoot.
- Grouse need heather
As well as berries and seeds, grouse can eat up to 50g of heather a day. They eat the young green shoots of heather, and then also nest in older heather. Heather moorland is sadly now rare than rainforest habitat, with the UK having 75% of what is left worldwide.
- Grouse shooting started with the Victorians
Grouse shooting can be traced as far back as 1853. It hit off when the railways made it easier to get to the moors, and shotguns became breech-loading. The “bags”, the total number of birds shot per day, were huge, often reaching numbers of up to 2000 in a single day. Commonly associated with the Scottish Highlands, red grouse were also shot in Wales, Northern Ireland and even the Peak District.
- Red grouse are unique to Britain
The Red grouse is native to Britain, which has made them high-value birds. People from all over the world pay a large amount of money to come to the UK to shoot them. The willow grouse is its closest relative, which can be found throughout northern Europe, Asia, Canada and Alaska.
- Grouse are less fat than chicken
By the evening of the Glorious Twelfth, the first red grouse shot on the day will have already made it onto the menu of some of London’s top restaurants, and they compete for the honour of serving the first birds of the season. Roast grouse has less than a third of the fat, and twice the protein of roast chicken, though with a gamey flavour.
- Grouse make an unusual noise
Red grouse make a distinctive call when they are flying fast and low above the heather, sounding strangely like ‘Go back! Go back! Go back!’
- Grouse is also a term for complaining
‘To grouse’ originally meant ‘to complain or grumble’ and dates to the late 19th century, apparently originating as soldiers’ slang in the British Army, with the earliest known use by Rudyard Kipling in 1887.
- Grouse are safe on Sundays
Grouse are safe once a week on Sundays. It is illegal to shoot grouse and made other game birds, on Sundays. Back in 2012, when the Glorious Twelfth fell on a Sunday, it had to be moved to August 13th, and it will be the same again next year in 2018. This law was laid out in the Game Act of 1831, and though it is not illegal in Scotland, the custom of not shooting on Sundays has been adopted.
- Grouse shooting is big business
Grouse shooting generates a staggering £150 million for the economy each year. The industry also supports 2,500 jobs, from gamekeepers to people in hospitality. People can be expected to pay thousands to join in a shoot, which charges around £150 a brace.
- Grouse shooting is increasingly controversial
Environmentalists accuse land owners of killing natural predators like foxes, stoats and hen harriers. Conservationists also argue burning heather leaves peat exposed to the air, harming wildlife that makes their home in the peatland. However, gamekeepers claim that responsible grouse management actually helps the environment.
- Grouse are wild
Red grouse are not artificially reared for shooting like pheasants and partridges are. Teams of gamekeepers manage the moors to maximise the number of birds available so that the numbers can fluctuate year to year. Millions are spent every year, carefully setting fire to heather, when it reaches over a foot in height, which is done in rotation and encourages regeneration.
- Red grouse are a symbol of Scotland
The red grouse is Scotland’s national game bird, used to be the former mascot of Scotland’s rugby team and is the emblem of the whisky of the same name.Click Here…