The Glorious Twelfth is usually used to refer to August 12th - the start of the shooting season for Red Grouse and to a lesser extent the Ptarmigan in the UK. This is one of the busiest days in the shooting season, with large amounts of game being shot. The date itself is traditional, the current legislation enshrining it is the Game Act of 1831.
Long ago the Glorious Twelfth marked the beginning of a six week holiday when those who could afford it would transport their entire household to a lodge in the hills. That happens less often now but otherwise little has changed. It is still as important a date for the people who live in the hills as it ever has been. It has also led to the Great Grouse Race where top London restaurants vie to be the first to serve the new season’s grouse at lunch. In 1980, a pub in Surrey won the race with the help of helicopters, fast cars and members of the Red Devils parachute team. In 1997, grouse were shot and immediately flown to New York on Concorde so they could be served up for dinner the same day.
The dates for the game shooting seasons are:
Pheasant: Oct 1st - Feb 1st (it is considered bad form to shoot pheasant in October so November is the month when the season takes off)
Partridge: Sept 1st - Feb 1st
Grouse: Aug 12th - Dec 10th
Ptarmigan: Aug 12th - Dec 10th
Black Grouse: Aug 20th - Dec 10th
Snipe: Aug 12th - Jan 31st
Woodcock: Oct 1st - Jan 31st
Duck & Goose (inland): Sept 1st - Jan 31st
Duck & Goose (below high water mark): Sept 1st - Feb 20th
Coot/Moorhen: Sept 1st - Jan 31st
Golden Plover: Sept 1st - Jan 31st