Time to book days on the moors

Af­ter last sea­son’s volatil­ity, there’s quiet con­fi­dence that the Glo­ri­ous Thir­teenth may her­ald a de­cent sea­son, writes Ru­pert Bates

The Field - - Opening Shots Property -

I’M not sure if that Amer­i­can car­toon master of an­thro­po­mor­phism, Gary “The Far Side” Lar­son, ever found him­self in Scot­land in Au­gust but he would prob­a­bly have a brace of grouse pon­der­ing: “Was a late spring good or bad news for us?”

There was cer­tainly some un­sea­son­ably late snow but then the weather gods smiled for a while on the guns who were count­ing down to the Twelfth.

Robert Rat­tray of Sport­ing Lets, with fin­gers crossed, is qui­etly con­fi­dent, de­spite the va­garies of the weather. “We are cer­tainly hop­ing for a bet­ter over­all sea­son. Last sea­son was quite volatile with some es­tates re­port­ing record bags while others had to can­cel part or all of their pro­grammes,” says Rat­tray.

“As a re­sult, un­der­stand­ably, some es­tates have been rather wary about the num­ber of days they have let in ad­vance this sea­son and they will wait un­til early Au­gust, or later, be­fore they com­mit to let­ting more days.”

Rat­tray says de­mand for grouse shoot­ing re­mains strong, be it from the do­mes­tic mar­ket, Europe or Amer­ica. He points out that in­ter­na­tional par­ties have to take a bit of a punt, need­ing to book in ad­vance, while lo­cal guns have the flex­i­bil­ity to ar­range days at shorter no­tice.

Rat­tray praises the launch of the Bri­tish Game Al­liance, which he hails as “a land­mark step for the whole sec­tor, of­fer­ing a uni­fied ap­proach that en­ables es­tates to run their shoots in an ap­proved fash­ion and achieve the BGA kitemark”.

Rat­tray says the BGA will de­velop the mar­ket for game and en­able cus­tomers to buy game eas­ily from a wide range of su­per­mar­kets and other out­lets at a re­al­is­tic price.

“Many es­tates have al­ready been work­ing hard over many years to cre­ate en­dur­ing mar­kets for their game, whether through deal­ers, sales to lo­cal pubs and restau­rants, or through es­tab­lished re­la­tion­ships with chefs at lead­ing restau­rants in Ed­in­burgh or Lon­don,” says Rat­tray.

“The cus­tomer de­mand to eat grouse and pheas­ant is there. The prob­lem has been that sup­ply is so vari­able and re­tail­ers have been un­will­ing to free up shelf space for an un­pre­dictable prod­uct. This ini­tia­tive will help es­tab­lish a col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach to en­sure that cus­tomers can en­joy game in sea­son in their lo­cal area.”

Mean­while, Sav­ills is sell­ing a one-day grouse moor in County Durham. Sand Edge Moor in Wols­ing­ham is on the mar­ket for £900,000, with 154 acres of free­holdowned land and 534 acres of free­hold sport­ing rights over Sand Edge Com­mon.

The moor’s for­tunes, with three rows of butts, have im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly in re­cent years, with a five-year aver­age of 229 brace, and the ground, which in­cludes two duck flight ponds, is keep­ered as part of a wider es­tate.

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