Muirburn

“Muirburn could have prevented blaze on Howden Moor,” say keepers

Gamekeepers and countryside groups have stressed the importance of muirburn as a conservation tool, following the fire that destroyed more than 200 acres of heather moorland on the National Trust-owned Howden Moor in the Peak District National Park earlier this month. The fire was started by a disposable barbecue that…

Policing rural crime

Policing rural crime in Kent

As the UK’s gateway to Europe where freight movements average 10,000 each day along one of the country’s largest motorway networks and some 34 million passengers pass through the county each year, Kent Police are subject to some unique policing problems. The county is challenged by transient crime, smuggling, the…

Trapping and shooting squirrels

How to use trapping and shooting techniques to control squirrels

Now is the time to get on top of all those pest control jobs. With much greater access to the woodland areas we can now make a serious dint in the squirrel population before the ground-nesting birds start to lay. As a pest controller, I get some of the strangest of phone…

shotgun cartridges

EU tables more “irrelevant” Firearms Directive proposals

Shooting organisations have expressed concern that further “draconian” amendments to the EU Firearms Directive have been tabled by the European Council, despite a number of MEPs already agreeing that existing proposals are “rushed” and “irrelevant”. Plans to tighten European gun laws were brought forward by the European Commission following the terrorist attacks in…

maize cultivation

Cost-cutting gamekeepers risk their drives, say experts

The company this month warned that, rather than poor weather conditions, it is keepers cutting corners with inadequate cultivation, inferior seed, too little fertiliser and poor pest control that are the biggest threat to shoots, which may be jeopardised by high crop recovery costs and lost birds. Chris Bright, managing…

pheasants in pen

Golden rules for rearing gamebirds

With more than 200 gamefarms and business members, and a history going back to 1908, the Game Farmers’ Association (GFA) is in a unique position to share its wisdom with anyone thinking of going into game rearing. It won’t provide detailed “how to do it” advice; there are almost as many ways to rear…

Researchers show how to breed a fitter, stronger pheasant

Researchers from the University of Exeter have discovered some useful tips for improving the ability of pheasants to flourish out in the wild. Firstly, if poults are given access to raised perches in pens they tend to grow bigger and stronger leg bones, are able to fly higher and can…

game birds

Game birds: What happens to the 35,000,000 released yearly?

When it comes to game birds, for many shoots around the UK, last season was one of mixed results, much influenced by the exceptional weather we experienced or, in many cases, suffered. The GWCT put a figure of approximately 35 per cent as the national average return of released pheasants…

Poorly poults

How to deal with poorly poults

The only real way of finding out what’s wrong with your birds – if you are picking up dead ones or they look off-colour – is to take them to a vet. You must do this as soon as you spot something is wrong. When you suspect there is a…

Commercial shoots

Poor drives on commercial shoots: poor excuse or unfair demand?

In the world of commercial shooting, is it good enough to explain a poor drive by saying it was the first time through? The Paying Gun, by Matthew Alexander As shooting has become more expensive it’s only fair to the paying customer that the offering also improves. Guns are more intolerant –…

poultry pheasants

Can you feed ordinary poultry layers pellets to pheasants?

Q: Can you feed ordinary poultry layers pellets to pheasants? Will they still lay and hatch the same? We only have a few and don’t really know where to get hold of the proper pheasant layers pellets and can buy the poultry ones locally. A: You can. There is a difference between…

Chris Warren

What does a gamekeeper do on a shooting estate?

I have visited a lot of shoots for Shooting Gazette and interviewed and photographed many a gamekeeper, but I have never spent the entire shooting day with a gamekeeper seeing the shoot day from his point of view. As the gamekeeper is the core around which a shoot rotates that…

Gamekeeper record keeping

Why gamekeepers should keep detailed records of a shoot

For gamekeepers, record keeping is so much more than five columns in a gamebook. Records, which can be as complicated or uncomplicated as you like, are key to the long-term management of a shoot. If you struggle to remember what happened last week, last month or even last year, then there…

British countryside

Whatever happened to the British countryside?

Years ago, if you went from Walsall towards Litchfield on the No.6 bus, crossed the Shire Oak traffic lights and carried on for a couple of miles, you would come to a farm just before the Boat Inn. The man who farmed it was my grandfather’s best friend, a man…

Heather Burning

Burning heather: an issue of moorland management

Why do we burn heather moorland? The practice of muirburn – or burning heather, as it’s more commonly known by the practitioners -is extremely old. It was originally done to produce fresh grazing for animals, as it still is over huge swathes of the planet, though not on heather moorland.…

Dwarf sorghum

Getting your covercrops right

The reason that most shoots change their covercrops is because of a failure, but simply changing them will not guarantee success. It is vital to be honest about the reasons for the failure and to include the factors under your control, rather than just blame the weather or bad luck. Creating a…

Golden Plover

Time to enter the Golden Plover Award 2016 for moorland management

  The Golden Plover  recognises progressive, practical and sustainable moorland management in Scotland and this year the Award theme reflects sheep farming’s role as a major upland land use. Adam Smith, Director (Scotland) of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust said “The judges will be looking to identify the best…

Lindsay-Waddell

Lindsay Waddell NGO chairman interview

Robert Cuthbert: Did you find shooting or vice versa? Lindsay Waddell: “I spent a lot of my formative years with my aunt and uncle, a shepherd in the Angus Glens of Scotland, and “attached” myself to the local keeper, Dick Barrett. From the age of seven or eight, I spent…

Bird flu warnings

How to hatch and rear your own pheasants

Hatching and rearing your own birds isn’t as hard as you might imagine. It takes time and there will be the inevitable ups and downs, but rearing your own has its advantages: you can save money, you can guarantee the birds will be the age and strain you want, and…

gamekeeping

Furious backlash to Countryfile feature on gamekeepers

Presenter Matt Baker spent time with students training as gamekeepers. As part of the study, students were taught to shoot deer and butcher the quarry afterwards. The point of the feature was to address some of the misconceptions the public holds about gamekeepers and the voiceover made clear that deer…