Grouse shooting ‘brings different classes together’ (It’s August)

An example of “them” and “us” and what “they” think we think of “them”. August is definitely the time to tug your forelock.

Owl assumes that pheasant shooting is regarded by “them” in a similar light, though it doesn’t feature as one of our Local Enterprise Partnership “Golden Opportunities”.

Also a good example of how vague “economic benefits” can be used to promote the wishes of landowners.

Luckily, Owls don’t have forelocks to tug nor are considered to be part of the Raptor family, the arch enemy of gamekeepers.

Ben Webster

Grouse shooting brings social benefits because it allows mixing between shooters and the people who cater for them, a report has suggested.

The paper defends the sport against calls for it to be banned, saying that it also has economic and environmental benefits. The report, funded by the shooting industry, has been released before the grouse season opens on Thursday, the Glorious Twelfth of August, although a cold, wet spring means many moors have few birds to shoot.

The researchers say that driven grouse shooting, in which beaters drive birds towards shooters, involves “a wide range of individuals from a variety of backgrounds, not just guns but also beaters, pickers up, drivers, flankers, caterers, supporters and others, facilitating contact between individuals from different class backgrounds and maximising the potential for social impacts”.

The report by Northampton University was commissioned by the Uplands Partnership, which includes the Moorland Association representing landowners, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, the Countryside Alliance and the National Gamekeepers Association.

The three authors include Simon Denny, a retired professor and former army captain who is a keen shooter. They say that one of the main reasons people oppose grouse shooting may be because “it is associated with the rich enjoying themselves”, and insist that this is “a gross over-simplification”.

The report suggests that many people involved in grouse shooting are disadvantaged in the debate over the sport because unlike high-profile opponents such as Chris Packham, the author and broadcaster, they are often “not confident in using social media and communication media”.

The economic benefits of grouse shooting include supporting jobs in remote areas, with a survey of 15 estates in North Yorkshire, Northumberland, and Scotland showing that they had 80 gamekeepers and 175 other full-time staff.

One moor in the North York Moors National Park employs 50 beaters earning £50 a day, 20 times a year, while another ten people earn £100 picking up the dead birds. Grouse shooting also supports hotels and other businesses, with clients flying in on private jets, bringing wives and partners and spending “a vast amount of money”.

Management of grouse moors helps to control ticks, which pose a disease risk to humans and wildlife. Bracken, which can harbour ticks and smother sensitive habitats, is also reduced.

The report says that a detailed study has not been carried out into the economic impact of managing moors without shooting but its authors conclude: “It is unlikely that the alternative uses that are proposed by some groups for the moorlands would deliver the same positive economic impacts, at least for a number of generations.” They said that shooting was “an important part of a mosaic of income-generating activities that sustain upland communities”.

Mark Avery, a co-founder with Packham of Wild Justice, which wants driven grouse shooting to be banned, said that the report was “from an industry in denial”. He ridiculed the claim that the sport brought classes together, adding: “We’ll have a game of dominoes down the pub with the Duke of Westminster [a grouse moor owner] any time he likes.”

Report can be found here

Footnote: On Monday 21st June the Westminster Petitions Committee debated the petition: “Ban Driven Grouse Shooting: Wilful blindness is no longer an option”. The petition was started by Wild Justice, the anti-shooting campaign group headed by Mark Avery, Ruth Tingay and Chris Packham. The debate followed a similar – unsuccessful – petition that was debated back in 2016.  Back then 30 MPs, including the now-Chancellor Rishi Sunak, made speeches in favour of grouse shooting, while none spoke in favour of the ban, and the petition was rejected. The 2021 debate followed a fairly similar pattern to the one from five years ago, with MPs lining up to support grouse shooting and to refute the claims of the petition.

2 thoughts on “Grouse shooting ‘brings different classes together’ (It’s August)

  1. The Glorious Twelfth: A Bird’s-Eye View

    I’m a Red Grouse, a High-Class Bird,
    Of all Game-Birds the one preferred
    By gentry, lords and the top brass,
    All members of the ruling class.

    I’m courted by the richest in the land
    Who make damn sure Grouse-Shooting isn’t banned.
    I live amongst the purple moorland heather
    Where noble folk and I can come together.

    Yes, I’m well-bred, a highly favoured Grouse,
    Like Eton Boys and chaps from Charterhouse,
    For that is where all those chaps born to rule
    Are sent away from home to public school.

    It’s there they learn to tell a clever lie,
    Their feelings only for the Old School Tie.
    I play my part to see the rich have fun,
    A leading role, together with the Gun.

    The Glorious Twelfth is my great Day.
    I’m centre-stage in that display.
    I look down on all other Game;
    Pheasants and I are not the same.

    We meet with low-class Beaters on the heather,
    For Grouse-Shoots bring the classes close together
    And those who normally get little pay
    Can now earn a cool fifty quid a day.
    (No matter if their noble “chum”
    Should miss and shoot them in the bum.)

    They flush me out. I fly up in the sky.
    Bang, bang! I’m hit. I topple and I die
    And then I’m roasted on an open fire.
    What greater Glory could a Grouse desire?


  2. So the beaters pick up £50 a day 20 times a year. What a huge amount of money – less than a meal for the shooters afterwards, though of course they will be able to feast on grouse for a while. None of the reasons given will in any way bring the classes together. The classes will be able to observe each other and reinforce their prejudices, but becoming ‘chums’, no way. The report made for amusing reading but it is a bit horrific to think that a Parliamentary debate based on its rejection should be overturned.


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