Gamekeepers are dedicated to their profession, managing the habitats under their guardianship. They work long hours in all weathers in some of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK.

The gamekeeper's role in the countryside varies depending on which environment he or she is working in and the required end result.

The habitats gamekeepers manage fall into two main types:

  • Uplands - land above 300 meters, including heather moorland

  • Lowlands - including farmlands and woodlands

Uplands

In an upland environment the gamekeeper's role is largely management of existing habitat for the benefit of the indigenous wildlife. Gamekeepers also need to control a range of predators for the benefit of more vulnerable species.


Both of these actions not only work towards providing a harvestable surplus of game for the multi million pound sporting interests but also produce favourable conditions for flora and fauna to thrive, some of which are Biodiversity Action Plan species such as the waders that nest on the heather moorland like the endangered Curlew.

A beautiful heather moorland landscape
 

THE ROLE OF A GAMEKEEPER

A gamekeeper stands with his dog and Land Rover - ready for work

In a lowland environment the role of a gamekeeper is somewhat different but with the same outcome.

Over the last 40 to 50 years the countryside has changed dramatically due to intensive farming practices and past government legislation. An important part of the gamekeeper's work therefore, is to create and maintain good, healthy habitat beneficial to all wildlife so making his role crucial to the health of the countryside.

Again there is the need to reduce predation, particularly at certain sensitive times of the year, for the benefit of a variety of species of wildlife. This is aimed at providing a harvestable surplus of game for the sporting interests.

Lowlands

English countryside landscape
 

Deer Management

Deer in the morning mist

Common to both upland and lowland habitats, deer management can be another important part of a gamekeeper's role. Since the disappearance of the wolf from this country there is now no natural predator of deer to keep their numbers in check, so man has to step into that role.

For the benefit of the deer themselves numbers do need to be kept at a sustainable level, this requires a certain number to be culled humanely every year. Many of these culled deer make their way into the human food chain.

Wild game, be it venison, pheasant, partridge or similar is a good quality meat, low in fat and cholesterol and is a healthy, tasty alternative to the more commonly available lamb, pork, beef and chicken.

 

How to Become a Gamekeeper

Modern day gamekeepers have to be multi-talented and have an understanding of not only the practical aspects of habitat management but also more academic subjects such as current legislation, veterinary medicine, agricultural practice and financial accounting. 

A great way to gain practical experience is to volunteer on a keepered estate. You can learn the daily, monthly and seasonal tasks that allow gamekeepers to manage our countryside by working with experienced keepers.

To top up the practical experience there are many Colleges offering a diverse range of courses including Conservation Management, Forestry, Fisheries Management, Butchery and Ecology. These courses lead to professional qualifications which are becoming increasing sought after by prospective employers.

Students examining a deer jaw bone

College Courses

The following table shows examples of the wide range of courses offered by colleges.

This is not an exhaustive list of college courses. However we hope the college courses presented here will give you an idea of what is available near your location.

Please note that colleges regularly change their range of courses available. Please follow the college link for the most up-to-date listings.

College
Address
Courses
Askham Bryan, York, YO23 3FR

Level 2 & 3 Diplomas in Countryside Management, Environmental Conservation, Gamekeeping, Habitat and Wildlife Management

East Budleigh, Budleigh Salterton, Devon EX9 7BY

Level 1, 2 & 3 Diplomas in Countryside Management, Environmental Conservation, Gamekeeping and Wildlife Management

Apprenticeship in Gamekeeping and Wildlife Management

Beverley, East Yorkshire

Level 2 & 3 Diplomas in Countryside Management, 

Foundation Degrees in Countryside Management (Gamekeeping & Fisheries) 

BSc Environmental Conservation

Newtown St Boswells, Scottish Borders, TD6 0PL

Gamekeeping SVQ Level 2 & 3

North Heath,West Sussex

Level 3 Diploma in Countryside Management
Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Countryside Management
Level 3 Extended Diploma in Countryside Management

Ruthin, Denbighshire

City and Guilds L2 Diploma in Countryside and Environment
Pearson BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Countryside and Environment

Skipton, North Yorkshire

Level 1 & 2 Diplomas in Countryside & Environment 

Level 3 Extended Diploma Environmental Conservation (Apprenticeship & Foundation degree)

Stoke Climsland, Cornwall

Gamekeeping & Wildlife Management BTEC Diploma L2
Gamekeeping & Wildlife Management BTEC Extended Diploma L3
Gamekeeping and Wildlife Apprentice L2 & L3

Easton, Norwich

Level 2  Diploma in Countryside and Environment
Level 3 Diploma, Extended Diploma in Countryside Management (Gamekeeping)

Cupar, Fife

NC Gamekeeping and Wildlife Conservation
HNC Gamekeeping and Wildlife Management

Hadlow, Kent

Level 1 Diploma Landbased Studies (Environmental Conservation)
Level 2 Diploma in Countryside and Environment
Level 3 Diplomas in Countryside Management & Forestry & Arboriculture

Hartpury, Gloucester

Conservation and Countryside Management (BSc (Hons) / FdSc)
BTEC Level 3 Diplomas in Countryside Management (Game)
Gamekeeping Residential Taster Course

Holme Lacy Campus, Holme Lacy, Herefordshire

Level 2 Diploma in Countryside Management
Level 3 Extended Diploma in Countryside Management

Chippenham, Wiltshire

Level 1 Diploma Landbased Studies
Level 2 Countryside Management
Level 3 90 Credit Diploma Gamekeeping and Fisheries
Level 3 Extended Diploma Gamekeeping and Fisheries
Level 3 90 Credit Diploma Conservation and Ecology
Level 3 Extended Diploma Conservation and Ecology
Intermediate Apprenticeships Gamekeeping
Advanced Apprenticeships Gamekeeping
Foundation Degree Game and Wildlife Management

Moulton, Northamptonshire

Level 2, 3, Extended & Subsidiary Diplomas in Countryside Management and Environment

Preston, Lancashire

Level 1 & 2 Diplomas Land-based Studies (Countryside)
Level 3 Diploma Countryside Management (Game Management & Habitat Conservation)

Newton Rigg, Penrith, Cumbria

Level 2 & 3 Diploma (Gamekeeping, Countryside & Environment)
Gamekeeping Apprenticeship (Game & Wildlife Management)

Thurso, Caithness

Gamekeeping Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 2
Gamekeeping with Wildlife Management, HNC
Highland Gamekeeping NC

Ponteland, Northumberland

Level 2 & 3 Diplomas Countryside & Environment
Level 3 Subsidiary & Extended Diplomas in Countryside Management

Broxburn, West Lothian

HNC in Countryside Management
HND in Countryside Management
NC in Countryside Management

Lewes, East Sussex

Countryside Management Foundation degree
Level 2 & 3 Certificate/Diploma in Game Management &  Countryside & Environment

Nantwich, Cheshire

Level 2 Diploma Countryside and Environment
Extended Diplomas Conservation & Wildlife Management
Extended Diplomas Forestry & Arboriculture, Fisheries

Sparsholt Hampshire. SO21 2NF

BSc (Hons) Conservation and Wildlife Management

Level 2 & 3 Diplomas in Game & Wildlife Management

Apprenticeships in Gamekeeping, Conservation & Butchery

Inverness, IV2 5NA

HNC Gamekeeping with Wildlife Management

Chelmsford, Essex

Level 2 Diploma in Game and Wildlife
Level 3 Extended Diploma in Countryside Management
BSc (Hons) Conservation and Environment