What’s it all about then?
You’ll be working in the countryside managing land for hunting and fishing purposes, and making sure that game such as pheasants, partridges, hares, deer and grouse thrive.
Although your income will be from organising shoots for clients, the work that you’ll do is very beneficial to the countryside in general and gamekeeping helps to ensure a balanced environment, which is very important.
You may also rear birds for release into the wild and this helps to strengthen numbers and supplement existing stocks
What might I be doing?
This will vary, particularly with the seasons but could include:
- Planning and organising shoots and fishing parties
- Hiring and supervising beaters
- Keeping accurate records of what is shot or caught
- Organising the sale of game
- Maintaining high standards of welfare of game
- Ensuring everyone complies with safety rules
- Controlling predators
- Organising the training of gun dogs
- Minimising activities of poachers
- Administrative tasks associated with the job
- Maintaining breeding stock and habitats
- Organising repairs to equipment and buildings
- Liaising with external agencies such as the police
What will be expected of me?
You’ll be someone who loves living and working in the countryside and enjoys all aspects of the natural world; you should also expect to be working on your own for long periods of time in remote areas of the country.
You will need to be someone who is patient by nature and also physically fit in order to meet the demands of the job.
Your communication skills will also need to be top notch especially during shoots when you’ll need your instructions obeyed at all times in order to ensure everyone stays safe and shoots effectively and accurately
And of course for the record keeping component of the job, you will be expected to be numerate and literate and be able to use IT effectively.
What can I expect?
This is not a 9 to 5 job and you can expect to work long, irregular hours depending on what work needs to be done at any particular time.
This means early mornings, late evenings and weekend work
The nature of the work means you’ll be out of doors for most of the time and working in remote areas, often by yourself; you can expect lots of walking as you check the estate and the game.
You can also expect to be using guns a lot of the time so if you’re squeamish by nature then this is not a job you should be considering – and of course you’ll be expected to have a gun license.
What about the pay?
This will vary with employer, location and breadth of responsibility but a junior gamekeeper or under-keeper could expect a salary of around £11000 to £12000 per annum.
With experience this should reach somewhere around £20000 per annum
Head gamekeepers can earn up to £25000 per annum.
Many of these jobs come with accommodation and other allowances such as transport.
These figures are for guideline use only and you should always check for up to date information.
What qualifications do I need to get in?
No formal qualifications are needed for this role and you will probably start your career as an assistant to an experienced keeper, enabling you to learn on the job.
Past experience gained perhaps as a beater will also help you getting through the door.
If you want to take some qualifications prior to commencing your career then there are loads available at various levels from 1 to 3.
These include the level 3 Certificate in Countryside Management and the Diploma in Gamekeeping with Wildlife Management at levels 2 and 3.
Where would I get these qualifications?
There is a wide variety of qualifications available at colleges throughout Great Britain - a good sample of what’s out there is shown on the following website:
This will give you some idea of not only what to study but also where to go to get these qualifications.
You should also check your local land based and further educational colleges for details.
What about further training?
You’ll usually receive on the job training, particularly if you’re expected to operate dangerous machinery such as chainsaws – in this case a certificate of competence will be required.
You could also consider taking short courses to develop your skills and knowledge; these are delivered via bodies such as the British Deer Society.
For those of an academic nature then you might look at a Foundation degree or BSc (Hons) degree – for instance, Writtle College at the University of Essex offers a BSc (Hons) in Conservation and Environment and a Foundation Degree (FdSc) in Conservation Management.
To keep up to date with legislation, scientific developments and the like you should strongly consider joining the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation; their website is on National Gamekeepers Association (NGO) – www.nationalgamekeepers.org.uk
Anything else I might need to know?
Yes the job of Gamekeeper is one which can be highly rewarding for those employed in this role.
Competition for jobs is usually intense and you are therefore strongly advised to get some qualifications and volunteer experience under your belt before you think about a career as a gamekeeper
The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation has tonnes of good information and you should check out their site for further information.