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…

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…

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…

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…