The Glorious Twelfth is to be postponed after a freezing spring killed off scores of grouse chicks.
Red Grouse shooting usually gets underway in Scotland on the Glorious Twelfth of August – when the year’s birds are mature enough to be hunted.
But after a spring which saw snowfall in late April, several moorland estates have revealed they now plan delaying it.
The death of young grouse in the cold weather has meant that a second brood of birds were born later in the summer – and will not be ready to be hunted until later in the year.
Gamekeepers have said the delayed start-date bodes badly for the season ahead.
Ralph Peters, head of estate management with Bidwells property consultants, said: “Up until mid-July there appeared to be a reasonable level of optimism across the country that this season would be a good, if not record breaking, one. However, now there is a feeling that it will be far from a great year despite the fact that in many areas there was a good, healthy stock of grouse remaining to breed after last season.
“Although May was a reasonably warm month for much of the country, the weather during the crucial hatching period and since has been far from ideal, with significant snow falling and lying on the higher ground – in some areas well into May and beyond.
“There have even been anecodotal reports of grouse hens laying their clutch of eggs on top of snow.”
Rab MacVarrie, head gamekeeper at Corriegarth Estate, part of the Loch Ness Rural Communities Group, said the delay to the season was not unprecedented.
He said: “Our grouse count has demonstrated that moorland estates are at the mercy of the Scottish weather. This is not an unusual occurrence and we expect a slower start in our region but remain hopeful for a successful season as a whole.”
The start of the Scottish grouse shooting season has been delayed due to adverse weather conditions on previous occasions. In 2013, several moors delayed the season opening due to icy spring temperatures.
The grouse shooting season usually runs from 12 August until 10 December in the UK.