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
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.