Land Rover Defenders

Queen’s weekly visits to walk gamekeeper’s dogs

We have always known that the Queen is a true countrywoman. One of her retired gamekeepers, Mr Fenwick, died a week ago at the age of 95 and it is said that the Queen is considering giving his dogs a home with her. She began walking his corgi and Bichon…

Winchester Model 23

Second-hand guns for gamekeepers and clayshooters

Winchester Model 23 Side-by-side classes in major sporting contests don’t seem to be as popular as they were, which is a pity because they formed a friendly link between clay and gameshooting. Nevertheless, using a side-by-side for club Sporting targets can be great fun, as well as sharpening up the reflexes ready for the autumn. Of course,…

Cormac Thompson

A visit to Hartpury College – where aspiring gamekeepers learn their craft

“Crack your flags on the right, boys…push on 20 yards… stand still… flags up on the left.” Familiar words to the ears of beaters on shoots throughout the land, but it is not often they are uttered by a gamekeeper who is only 18 years old. Hartpury College in Gloucestershire runs courses in gamekeeping and associated subject matter,…

Poorly poults

The gamekeeper’s constant fight against game bird disease

Travel back far enough and the major components you’d find in a keeper’s arsenal were gin traps, snares and a bottle of strychnine. Over time the gins were replaced by fen traps, strychnine removed altogether, and snares modified so they are no longer self-locking. It is true that Larsen traps have been a godsend and of course a shotgun and…

rodenticide

New law on using rodenticide

Farmers, gamekeepers and pest controllers are reminded that from Saturday, 1 October, they will not be able to buy professional rodenticide packs for use outdoors without first showing an approved certificate of competence or proof of membership of an approved farm assurance scheme. Dr Alan Buckle, chairman of the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use, said that the way…

Outstanding gamekeeping student wins NGO trophy

Will Hetherington of Shooting Gazette interviews Cormac The award goes to the best gamekeeping student of the academic year. Cormac completed his game and countryside management course at Harpury College, Gloucester, this summer and now runs the college’s commercial gameshoot. He said: “I am delighted to have won the Frank Jenkins. It is…

Hero gamekeepers dig through six feet of moorland to rescue lost spaniel

The dog’s owner, Karen da Rosa, was working her spaniel Jazz at a grouse shoot on Invermark Estate when Jazz disappeared without trace. After two prolonged searches of the vast area, head gamekeeper Garry MacLennan heard breathing at an opening and discovered Jazz had entered a pipe hole on the moor.…

How to hand rear wildlife

How to hand rear injured or orphaned wildlife properly

What would you do if you saw an injured squirrel or orphaned deer in trouble on land near you? David Whitby examines the ethics behind hand rearing wildlife back to health and even keeping them as pets – have you ever had to hand rear corvids, foxes or deer in…

feeding tips

Top feeding tips for your shoot

With the pheasant release process well under way on most shoots, careful feeding of our growing poults is a main task for the majority of low-ground keepers as July turns into August. As the birds begin to spread, so the feeding programme needs to move with them, and how we manage that can have big conservation consequences — both positive…

How to deal with wet weather when you put your birds out

If the weather is on your side when you put your birds out it makes such a difference. A nice run of dry days — when the birds can sit out, dust and sun themselves, followed by warm nights and sunshine  first thing in the morning to dry off any dew and perk the birds up…

release pens

How to manage release pens correctly

Time and again as I wander into the depths of a wood in my role as a Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) game adviser, I come across an embarrassment. The combination of tatty fencing, battered feed drums, broken drinkers, bags hanging from branches, and other mess is a dreadful advert for shooting. Add a bit of over-stocking to…

DIY keepers

10 tips for DIY keepers

Whether you have recently set up your own DIY shoot or if your syndicate could do with some fresh new tips, Tim Weston will help save you money and improve the efficiency of your shoot. Stop the rats Keep rats from lurking under feed bins and hoppers by building a…

DIY shoot

How to start up your own DIY shoot

Can you recall a time when the roughshoot, that splendid amalgam of sport, offering the odd walked-up pheasant or perhaps a partridge, a snipe, a mallard and a brace of rabbits, was a readily available alternative to the organised driven day? If you can then you have reached a certain…

young gamekeeping apprentice

Saving apprenticeships

Securing the future of gamekeeping apprentices is one of the most important things we can do for the future of shooting. We all know that the shooting we enjoy and the amazing conservation work it supports simply could not happen without gamekeepers, and gamekeepers could not do what they do without…

Gamecover

How to care for your gamecover crops

Planting gamecover crops is one thing. Getting them to grow to their full potential is another. We nurture ours through the first few important weeks after planting and, providing the weather is on our side, most of them will ripen and stay standing until the end of January. The better…

cage traps

How to set cage traps for rabbits

A reader asked a question regarding rabbit traps: I have been given some cage traps by a farmer friend, but the only things I have caught have been birds and hedgehogs (all of which were released unharmed). How and what is the best way to set this type of trap? Professional…

House martins

Why are the house martins moving out?

When we moved into our current Norfolk home there were house martins nesting under the eaves, but there aren’t any now. Some people dislike the mess made by these delightful little birds, especially if the nest is attached to the eaves directly above a window, but we miss our house…

Biosecurity

How to improve the biosecurity on your shoot

Biosecurity is a set of preventative measures designed to protect a farm or rearing field from the entry and spread of infectious diseases. Disease can be spread a number of ways: through contaminated feed, water, equipment, vehicles or people; contact with other flocks or the wild bird population; via faeces and secretions…

Queen Elizabeth in the field

A Royal picker-up

Gundogs have been a part of the Queen’s life from infancy. Her grandfather, George V, inherited his own father’s taste for gameshooting, as well as a more hands- on approach to the care and training of working dogs than Edward VII had ever shown. In the year before Elizabeth’s birth,…

Fox Control

It’s time for fox control

No matter how hard you try, and no matter how many foxes you kill, litters of cubs will always appear — usually where you least expect them. Keeping fox numbers down now is vital. Once the cover is up and they start living on top, it is much harder to…