Vinnie Jones

Vinnie Jones: “The best times of my life have been working as a gamekeeper …”

Film star and devoted countryman Vinnie Jones was a guest speaker at the final Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust (GWT) Gamekeeping for Life conference earlier this month. The Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels star, and former professional footballer, spoke of his passion for gamekeeping and rural life and how he devotes most of…

Female keeper out in field

Meet Jude Ward – our new keeper columnist

A Cornish girl born and bred, 
I have always had a passion for the outdoor life and animals. My early years were spent helping on the family farm, charging around on my Dartmoor pony, Sherbie. I am one of that rare breed, a female keeper, and have been keepering for…

Gun and gamekeeper

How Guns can earn a gamekeeper’s respect

Another season is over and I have no complaints at all. The abundance of wild food sent shivers down many a gamekeeper’s spine in early autumn; food intake was low, birds were simply not seen and it is always difficult to fathom out how thousands of pheasants remain hidden, but…

Liam Bell keeper

An interview with Liam Bell, chairman of the NGO

What did you do before becoming a keeper? I went to school! I never really wanted to do anything else. I remember my father, who was a chemical engineer, saying I’d make a good gamekeeper when I was 10 or 11 years old. I found out what one did and was hooked. It sounded like a…

keeper's day

Keeping everyone happy on keeper’s day

As the season draws to a close, talk among the beaters and pickers-up is of the end-of-season keeper’s days. For many gamekeepers, it is the only day of the year they get to shoot pheasants. Indeed, for some of them it might be the only day of the year they get to go shooting at all. There…

League Against Cruel Sports claims shooting industry to blame for bird flu outbreak

Eduardo Goncalves, LACS chief executive, said the outbreaks were “inevitable” because “the number of birds used by the shooting industry each year is a disaster waiting to happen. More pheasants and partridges are bred to be shot each year than the combined number of turkeys and duck killed for the table, but…

Game bird

What makes a game bird fly well on shoot days?

What makes our game birds fly well one day only to perform poorly the next? No one wants low birds that present little challenge and result in an inedible carcass along with a feeling of ‘really, what is the point?’ At the opposite end of the scale, the cruelty of excessive-range shooting is not only unacceptable but leaves a similar…

How to be an ideal beater

How to be an ideal beater

  The ideal beater Nothing makes my job easier than a good team of reliable beaters and picker-ups. In any beating team there is normally a core that know the ground better and work that bit extra to make the day a good one. Most of my beaters are locals, many seem to have been here…

wildfowling club

Latest bird flu warnings from National Gamekeepers’ Organisation

A spokesman for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) advises: “This advice is hugely important and is essential reading for everyone in the gamebird world… H5N8 bird flu is now widespread in the UK and threatens gamebird management as well as other bird-related industries. We urge all members and others to…

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…