GROUSE shooting got off to a fine start this week on the Northern Moors with guns using a new, conservation-led code of conduct.
A dry spring, followed by a warm summer which encouraged fine growths of heather - essential to the birds' feeding - meant that this year's breeding season was unusually successful.
This comes as a relief for the owners of smaller shooting estates, because the past decade was marred by disease which flourished in damp conditions, killing off many chicks.
Many estates had to abandon shooting completely in some years and the financial losses involved - combined with the disaster of foot and mouth disease two years ago - drove some to the verge of bankruptcy.
The gloom lifted this week, with reports of good sport on shoots in Yorkshire and the North West, under a new code of conduct which includes the used of cartridges with bio-degradable casings and non-toxic shot: in the past, shot used by anglers as weights was proved to be poisoning swans in large numbers.