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Game & Grouse Shooting

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 20 Nov 2022 | comments*Discuss
Game & Grouse Shooting

Grouse shooting is a popular shooting sport in the UK. Most game hunters participate in the rural sport for pleasure but there are other reasons for its continued popularity.

Why is grouse shooting popular?

Grouse shooting is one of the most traditional of the shooting sports in the UK. In the 19th century, it lost some popularity to other types of shooting sports, but has now come back into favour. For those who maintain and run a grouse moor, grouse shooting is the most effective way of controlling it, especially in commercial terms.

Although game and grouse shooting is mostly done for fun, game birds like grouse are also hunted for food, as they can be eaten fresh and are healthy. Grouse is protein-rich food and contains little fat. Being a natural food source, it has no artificial preservatives or chemicals. All game birds that are shot will be gathered together and sold on, usually to a game dealer or butcher, so most of the birds will end up being eaten, regardless of whether that was the initial intention when hunting them.

Because they are relatively rare nowadays, they are placed in high esteem. Hunters who earn money as a direct result of game and grouse shooting aren't legally required to hand over any of their income in taxes. A lot of this extra income is used to buy conservation management and to continue to employ people in remote rural areas.

When shooting parties (often from abroad) come to stay in one of the rural areas in which grouse shooting often takes place, they will probably stay in a local hotel, which boosts their profits. This often extends to other local businesses like restaurants and shops, so grouse shooting can have definite benefits for the local area.

What is involved?

As you've probably gathered, grouse shooting involves shooting game birds. This is mostly done for fun. The birds are driven above the shooters by beaters, so that they can be easily targeted by the guns, which are located in butts ( a shooting hide that is hidden behind a turf or stone wall). Alternatively, grouse shooting can also involve the birds being 'flushed' by dogs. See our article on 'Gundogs and Hunting Dogs' for more information on this.

Grouse can fly at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour, which makes them challenging to shoot.

Grouse shooting season

The season officially starts on August 12th of every year. It lasts until November 30th in Northern Ireland, and December 10th in England, Scotland and Wales. During the season, it's common for shooters to make for the Scottish and Northern Irish moors. Many make the trip from across the world, as the grouse in these areas are found in their natural habitat and haven't been reared artificially. Red grouse usually attract the most attention, and they are only found in the UK.


Strong etiquette rules prevail in grouse shooting. These are designed to encourage safe and responsible shooting. Most of these are common-sense ground rules that apply to shooting of any type. Grouse shooters should already be aware of these, as game hunting is one of the most complex shooting sports.

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Hi, we live in a small parcel of land in the middle of a large commercial shooting estate in Scotland. We have horses, goats poultry and dogs. One of there drives is directly next to our house. Should they let us know when they will be shooting it? We have tried asking them to let us know, but it never happens. We have one horse who is terrified and has to be sedated for the shoot. I can't do this if they don't tell me. We also frequently have fallen shot landing on our roofs. Is there anything I can do? Thanks
Jazz - 20-Nov-22 @ 6:06 PM
Keith48 - Your Question:
A party of rough shooters entered the grounds of an equestrian centre and moved into fields with grazing horses. My Daughter had a horse in one of those fields. Surely this is totally unacceptable behaviour and should be reported to the police???

Our Response:
Rough shooting is not appropriate for fields where animals graze or where people are potentially rounding up horses to ride. Yes report to the police.
RuralSports - 20-Nov-17 @ 3:46 PM
A party of rough shooters entered the grounds of an equestrian centre and moved into fields with grazing horses. My Daughter had a horse in one of those fields. Surely this is totally unacceptable behaviour and should be reported to the police???
Keith48 - 19-Nov-17 @ 9:29 PM
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