Driven grouse shooting is a field sport of the United Kingdom. It is popular because it provides a challenge due to the rapid flight of the grouse. The grouse shooting season extends from 12 August, often called the “Glorious Twelfth“, to 10 December each year. Shooting takes place on grouse moors, areas of moorland in northern England and Scotland.
The name ‘driven grouse shooting’ refers to the way in which the grouse are driven towards the hunters (termed ‘guns’) by beaters. A shooting party usually includes 8–10 guns who stand in a line in the butts—hides for shooting spaced some 20–30 m apart, screened by a turf or stone wall and usually sunken into the ground to minimise their profile—to shoot the grouse in flight. There is a strict code of conduct governing behaviour on the grouse moor for both safety and etiquette. Grouse shooting can also be undertaken by ‘walking up’ grouse over pointers, or by flushing the birds with other dogs.
The Red Grouse is a medium-sized bird of the grouse family or subfamily which is found in heather moorland in Great Britain and Ireland. It is usually classified as a subspecies of the Willow Grouse, but is sometimes considered to be a separate species Lagopus scoticus. It is also known as the moorfowl or moorbird. The grouse can fly at up to 130 km/h (81 mph).
To create a healthy grouse population, gamekeepers employ heather burning techniques. This involves burning patches of heather on the moorland. A burnt patch allows fresh shoots to come through which are ideal nutrition for grouse. Burning is done in patches so that there is a variety of heather heights. While the short new shoots provide food, the taller, older heather provides cover and shelter for the grouse. Not only does heather burning help the grouse population thrive but it encourages other wildlife by creating a variety of habitats in moorland areas.