Dalesport Grouse Shooting Season Review 2018
As we move into the New Year we reflect on what for many was a year to forget on the Grouse Moors of Northern England and Scotland. The 2018 season was nationally the worst season in over 15 years and although there were a few success stories in certain areas of Northern England it will be a season plenty will look forward to closing the door on.
Having said that although plenty of you didn’t manage to get out on the Moor this season (we greatly apologise to you if your days were cancelled with Dalesport Sporting Agency), we still managed to put on just shy of 100 days Driven Grouse Shooting which in a year like this is not bad going!
The Spring was late with the Beast from the East freeze drying the heather shoots, the late snow exacerbated these problems on the higher altitude moors with stocks being unable to reach the medicated grit, so the worm burdens rose causing some mortality.
This poor weather resulted in much smaller brood sizes as we predicted and the grouse did not condition well before laying due to cotton grass being late to flower, heather being in bad shape and wet and cold conditions throughout the winter and early spring. The heather never recovered due to the sustained lack of rain combined with Heather Beetle decimating significant areas of heather leaving them barren of grouse. This meant those young grouse which had survived by the time the season came round were hugely under conditioned and weak due to the lack of food which they would normally eat from healthy managed heather.
Once the season got underway it was clear to see the birds were under conditioned with cheapers still unable to fly in September. Plenty of estates had a look in the first week in August and pulled stumps leaving a relatively decent stock to try and take on to the next season.
Although the North York Moors performed fantastically well in parts and certain areas of the North Pennines also had a lot of grouse, we still think the overall outcome was over 70% of all Driven Grouse shooting being cancelled across the UK due to the lack of stock…
It will be interesting to see how the Moors bounce back in 2019? If there are any measures that can be taken in these changing climates, more effort will be needed – One thing’s for sure that watering stations for grouse was key to success on some moors this year due to the sustained hot/dry periods throughout the summer. This year could be another bumper year for some, but for most it will be a building year…
Lets hope for kinder weather in 2019!