Too much and your fellow Guns look mean, too little and you'll get a reputation for being tight-fisted. So how much?
Tipping on a shoot is a time-honoured part of a shoot day. Mind you, there are some Guns who think that tips are superfluous, and that keepers should be paid correctly in the first place, making tipping unnecessary.
The reality is that tipping does give the Gun the chance to show satisfaction with how the day was run. It also says a lot about the Gun personally. (And a Gun who neglects to tip will be remembered – and not in a good light.)
Unless you are the employer it is considered very bad form not to tip and a good way to ensure you’re not invited back. (Read our tips on how to make sure you’re invited back to shoot.)
Remember that keepers work all year round, in bad weather and at anti-social hours. The keepers’ fortunes depend on the weather – in a good wild bird day they will have dozens of shooting days, in a wet and cold year, only a handful. But the pest control work goes on regardless.
Although a keeper shouldn’t have to rely on tips to make up his or her salary, the reality is that in some shoots this is the case. A good keeper is a natural leader who works their teams with authority and cheerfulness. They find time to talk to everyone. Reward them. (Read our advice on shooting etiquette here.)
The 12 rules of tipping on a shoot
- Tipping is very much part of a shoot day
- Forgetting to tip is very rude and you won’t be forgotten.
- The amount should reflect the work put into the shoot day, not the size of the bag
- If as a Gun you felt welcomed, relaxed and cared for, then make your appreciation known with the folding stuff
- The tip should not reflect a bad peg draw
- The amount tipped is down to the individual (but announcing how much you’ve tipped or being ostentatious about it is vulgar)
- A keeper will remember who tipped and who didn’t!
- Don’t underestimate a gamekeeper’s influence over the host on who is invited back to shoot!
- Wild bird shoots command higher tips than a reared bird shoot
- On driven grouse days of 100-200 brace expect to tip £100
- For a 200 pheasant or partridge day tip £40
- As a rough guide, expect to tip 5% of the cost of a Gun per day
Keen Guns talk about tipping on a shoot day
John Sugden, owner of Campbells of Beauly, and a keen Gun comments:
“The keeper’s tip is an essential part of shooting etiquette and should reflect the all-round success and enjoyment that you have had on your day’s shooting. It’s not always about the bag either, after all, if the birds are plentiful it’s the guns that are responsible for not shooting straight!”
Mark Heath, Instructor Manager at West London Shooting School says: “The general formula that tends to be a guide is £20 per 100 birds in the bag, often there is a general chat between the guns and an amount agreed. More often than not where I’ve been a guest I tend to be generous especially if the day has been entertaining with some great sport.
“I’d also suggest a gift to the shoot host. Alcohol of some description always seems to be welcome. I sometimes take a personalised gift and something to contribute to the day especially if it’s a family type shoot. I always think a follow up thank you note or at the very least email is also important.” (We’ve compiled a list of the best gifts for shoot hosts here.)
Edward Solomons, World Champion Shotgun Shooter and co-founder of Edwards Eyewear comments: “Generally speaking I work on £20/100 birds shot (duck partridge and pheasant) but will go higher if the day has been especially well run.”
Rob Fenwick, Managing Director of EJ Churchill, notes: “I always work on £20 / hundred or part of, so on a 170 bird day I would give £40.
“I also then think to give a little bit extra if you have had a brilliant day, or the shoot team have gone over and above. Like with any tip, the better the service the better the tip should be!”
The editor of Shooting Times says
Patrick Galbraith, editor of Shooting Times advises: “Do not feel embarrassed about tipping a meagre amount if it’s all you have – aged 16 I tipped the head keeper at Alnwick £17.00 (a tenner, a fiver, and a two pound coin) – it was all I had, having spent the rest of my pocket money on cartridges. I had to borrow some money from a friend to get the train back home but I sort of felt the keeper knew and I suspect he appreciated it much more than some wealthy businessman handing him a handful of notes.”
If this is your first season out in the field, you might like to read our guidelines on what to expect on your first day pheasant shooting.
This article was originally published in 2017 and has been updated.