Labour Party proposes a ban on “intensive rearing”

The Labour Party’s proposed animal welfare plan, which includes a pledge to “promote high standards with regards to game shoots”, has had a mixed reception from rural groups. Published on the heels of the Government’s own proposed Animal Welfare Bill, the 50-point plan seeks to improve the treatment of wild,…

young gamekeeper

Does a gamekeeper really need a degree?

This is my eighth season being 
a headkeeper on an estate in the Cotswolds. Having entered 
the gamekeeping profession 
full-time at the age of 23, 
my initial knowledge came 
from running a small shoot in 
Suffolk for a farmers syndicate 
and having a BSc (Hons) 
degree in conservation and 
environment.…

Ampleforth College Shoot

Ampleforth College Shoot 2018

In the past five years the school shoot has grown in both extent and professionalism. Student-led and supported, with guidance by staff and parents, Ampleforth is putting down around 800 pheasants and partridges each year in three pens across the valley, shooting a good 10 days in the season.  Eight…

game to feed homeless

Keepers helped feed homeless this Christmas

Angus and Grampian gamekeepers teamed up to give more than 600 homeless and vulnerable people a freshly cooked meal of local game over the festive period. Members of the Angus Glens Moorland Group and Grampian Moorland Group worked to deliver locally reared oven-ready pheasants and partridges, as well as fresh…

beaters' day

How to organise beaters’ day

As January approaches, thoughts of keepers, beaters and pickers-up are turning to the end-of- season cock’s or beaters’ days. Originally called keeper’s days — because they were gifted to the keeper to invite whom 
he wished — the Guns are now usually 
a mix of the keeper’s guests, the beaters…

shoot day

Do Guns appreciate the planning that goes into a shoot day?

I wonder if people appreciate the amount of work and organisation that goes into planning a shoot day? The day starts way back in 
the summer when your poults first arrive in the release pens and the feeding regime, which is a seven-days-a-week job, goes 
on through the autumn in…

Gamekeepers and beekeepers work together on moorland heather

A new film explores how Scottish grouse estates are supporting local businesses, by teaming up with honey producers to give bees access to managed heather. Estates in Tayside, the Angus Glens and the Lammermuirs work with beekeepers who put their hives on the moors every August and September. The bees…

Drawing pegs

This is how to put out the pegs

When I worked in Wales, not far away there was a rather elderly and eccentric estate owner, who employed a full-time keeper and shot six days. One of his more interesting quirks was that he never drew pegs. He insisted that the Guns — who were a closed syndicate of…

Scottish keepers restore wild grey partridges

Wild grey partridges have been returned to the Tomatin moors in Inverness-shire thanks to local gamekeepers and some unusual help from bantam chickens. Wild greys had not been seen on the moor since the late 1990s, but in 2011 the team at Clune estate set out to bring them back.…

gamekeeper

Gamekeepers old and new rewarded for their work

Trainee keeper Jack Depledge from North Yorkshire has won this year’s National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) Frank Jenkins Memorial Trophy. The award, which is sponsored by Musto, is given to the best full or part-time gamekeeping student or apprentice of the academic year and is named for the late Frank Jenkins,…

Scottish gamekeepers back new Lyme disease measures

The Scottish Parliament is considering improvements to testing and treatment for Lyme disease, thanks to a petition supported by gamekeepers and grouse moor managers. The Tick-borne Illness Campaign Scotland seeks to limit the spread of Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. It calls for medical professionals in Scotland to be…

Michael Gove

DEFRA boss Michael Gove praises shooters

Environment secretary Michael Gove has once again celebrated the role that game shooting and land management plays in preserving the countryside. Mr Gove addressed an audience at last month’s All Party Parliamentary Group for Game and Wildlife Conservation, in a meeting chaired by esteemed countryman Sir Nicholas Soames. Importance of…

Moorland management

Grouse shooting: 12 facts you need to know about the Glorious 12th

1. It’s all thanks to the train Grouse shooting got going when the Victorians built railways that made it easier to get up onto the moors, back in the mid-19th century. Suddenly you could travel relatively comfortably with all your equipment and your gundogs. Around the same time, the breech-loading…

Breeding season for pheasants

Lowland birds breeding well

Gamekeepers across the UK are reporting strong broods and quality eggs, despite a period of bad weather, with the breeding season under way. Persistent rain has been an issue, but warm weather followed soon after, preventing too much damage to stocks. Stuart Maughan, headkeeper on the Whitfield estate in Northumberland,…

Scotland ends tail docking ban

The Scottish Government this week voted in favour of allowing vets to shorten the tails of spaniels and hunt, point, retrievers (HPR) if they will be used as working dogs. Legislation was laid in May, with environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham pledging to introduce a bill to drop the existing ban…

Gamekeepers rewarded for community effort

Gamekeepers who helped villages in Royal Deeside to recover from devastating flooding have been recognised for their community effort with a major award. Around 70 estate workers and gamekeepers from the Grampian Moorland Group teamed up with South Grampian Wildfire Group to remove debris from the river Dee at Ballater…

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…