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
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.
THE ROLE OF A GAMEKEEPER
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.
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.
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.