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Successful season on cards.

GAMEKEEPERS yesterday predicted a successful grouse shooting season in the region despite fears over the recession and poor weather.

Experts said they hoped for a "promising" year as the grouse season officially got under way on the "Glorious 12th" of August.

Between yesterday and December 10, game enthusiasts will roam the heather moorlands of Britain in pursuit of the elusive bird.

Despite worries about the impact of the credit crunch, wet weather and a blight of heather beetles destroying much of the grouse's moorland habitat, the season appeared to get off to a promising start.

The weather on estates in Scotland and North East England provided "perfect conditions" for gamesmen, the Scottish Gamekeepers' Association said, with a light mist preventing the moors from getting too dry and a gentle breeze stirring up the grouses' scent for the country's gundogs to sniff out.

It is illegal to shoot the red grouse, and its smaller relative, the ptarmigan, outside of these dates, so the Glorious 12th is a particularly special day for gamekeepers and estate owners.

The first grouse to be shot on the day is prized above all others and can command high prices on the restaurant scene.

The birds, which can fly at speeds of 80mph, are prized as targets for skilled marksmen, and a day's shooting at one of Scotland and the North of England's private estates can cost as much as pounds 3,000.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 13, 2009
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