Scotland’s grouse moors are preparing for what experts predict could be the strongest shooting season in years, starting on the Glorious Twelfth of August, the traditional opening day of the country sports tourism season.
Through the VisitScotland Growth Fund, the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group (SCSTG) has teamed up with the Scottish Land & Estates’ Moorland Group and sporting lets agent CKD Galbraith to highlight the importance of rural tourism pursuits, such as shooting, fishing and stalking. The income these generate supports remote communities and year-round management of grouse moors directly benefits rare wildlife by protecting a unique habitat.
VisitScotland Chairman Mike Cantlay said, “The Glorious Twelfth is a renowned date and marks the start of what will undoubtedly be a good season for this important tourism sector. Through the VisitScotland Growth Fund, the SCSTG has boosted Scotland’s reputation as a country sports destination to a wider audience in the UK and Northern Europe.
“Country sports operate year-round and therefore provide a valuable extension to the season for accommodation providers, restaurants, retail outlets and other activity providers and attractions.
“The Glorious Twelfth provides Scotland with a great opportunity to showcase our country sports credentials to wealthy visitors from around the world ahead of 2014, which marks an incredible year for Scotland through major events such as the Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games and Homecoming. Our ability to host such a diverse range of events and activities ensure that Scotland continues to have something for every visitor.”
A number of successful marketing activities have taken place including a new website - countrysportscotland.com - exhibiting at international exhibitions and the CLA Game Fair in the south of England.
The estimated overall value of all types of shooting, stalking and fishing to the Scottish economy is in the region of £350million per year. Grouse shooting contributes around 10% of that figure, much of which is recycled back into protecting beautiful Scottish moorland for tourists to enjoy all year round.
As red grouse and deer are not artificially reared, external factors including the weather and predators have a huge impact on the success of a sporting season. This year’s dry summer will mean healthier game stocks which translate to a bigger boost for country sports enterprises.
Robert Rattray of rural property and sporting let agents CKD Galbraith gave his thoughts on this year’s grouse forecast:
“Although Scotland endured a cold and long winter, in recent weeks this has made way for sunshine and almost unprecedented warm weather. Careful assessment of grouse stocks is revealing potential for one of the best seasons for many years, with some unusually large broods being seen. A late start to the breeding season means that shooting will extend through to September and October in many places.
“Grouse shooting on average generates around £30million for the Scottish economy but I would imagine figures this year will be much higher, with all the knock on benefits of seasonal employment in local communities.”
Victoria Brooks, Project Coordinator at the SCSTG, said: “After last year’s disappointing country sports season, caused mainly by the poor weather, the strong outlook for grouse shooting this year is all the more welcome. Grouse shooting season is followed by open season on wildfowling, partridge and pheasant shooting which extend until the end of January.
“We have had enquiries and bookings from people all over the world via the countrysportscotland.com website who will spend the hunting season on the moorlands of Scotland and in doing so generate huge income, support numerous jobs and help our indigenous wildlife and their habitats survive.”
Tim Baynes of the Scottish Land & Estates Moorland Group added: “Country sports tourism is changing all the time to improve the customer experience, develop sporting opportunities and raise awareness of Scotland as a leading sporting destination. The role of country sports as a rural employer and custodian of areas of conservation interest cannot be overstated.
“Many may not appreciate the conservation aspect of moorland management, but the activity required to enable successful grouse shooting – careful rotational burning of the heather, control of problem predators and careful integration with existing farming practices – all enable practical conservation of rare bird populations such as waders at minimal cost to the taxpayer.”