It STILL has more than a month to go.

But the current grouse shooting season is already being described as one of the best in living memory by leading figures involved in the past-time.

A record overall count of grouse shot is being predicted and a multi-million pound windfall for the Scottish economy.

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Sporting Lets says the season got off to an excellent start right from the Glorious 12th, with most estates reporting this year's birds to be in good condition.

This was partly due to the past year's weather. The winter of 2013 was followed by a long and mild spring and equally favourable conditions throughout summer. This combined with the driest September in Scotland since records began, resulting in the best breeding conditions.

Spring counts of young grouse were good although some moors did report a slight loss in brood size as July approached. Although some estates sensibly adopted strict biosecurity measures in light of outbreaks of bulgy eye (infects the sinuses of poultry, gamebirds and many other species) south of the border and some areas of southern Scotland this had not had any material impact on shooting.

Records are thought to have been broken right across Scotland with one Morayshire moor starting the season with 220 brace on their first day. It is due to officially end on December 10.

Robert Rattray, head of Sporting Lets and a partner at estate agents CKD Galbraith, is delighted with results to date.

He said: "The grouse have been particularly well grown this year, with record bags right across the country due to the fantastic shooting available right from the start, and continuing through October which has benefited from the dry and mild weather".

He said Perthshire had done particularly well, with numbers well up on those moors being actively managed. "One mid-Perthshire estate had a best early season day of 277 brace in four drives in a stiff wind."

He said the Cairngorms and Aberdeenshire continued to improve with records also set on the Monadhliaths. One estate had a best day of 316 brace on August 15 - possibly a record for the Monadhliaths. We have reports that the Lammermuirs have an estate with 1,500 brace over the first four days of the season."

Robbie Marsland, the League Against Cruel Sports director for Scotland, said: "We question the real financial benefits to Scotland, and cannot reconcile the word successful with the needless deaths of thousands of animals in the name of so-called sport."