How to become gamekeeper

What does a gamekeeper do?

Gamekeepers manage and maintain areas of countryside to ensure there is enough game for shooting. There are different types of keeper:

  • lowland keepers work in woodland and open farmland. They are mainly concerned with partridges, pheasants and mallards
  • upland keepers work on moors and are concerned mainly with deer and grouse
  • highland keepers/stalkers are mainly concerned with deer-stalking, and with grouse in some areas of Scotland.

Shooting season, the busiest time for keepers, varies according to the type of game. At this time gamekeepers arrange shoots and hire beaters to help flush birds out of cover to fly over the guns and collect birds that have been shot. In spring and summer gamekeepers may breed and rear young birds. They control pests and predators, such as foxes and crows, which could endanger eggs and chicks.

Much of the work involves maintaining the shoot habitat, which includes clearing overgrown woodland, clearing ditches, mending fences and maintaining buildings. Keepers also protect game from poachers by patrolling the beat area at night, and liaising with the police to deal with crime such as badger digging and hare coursing. Other tasks include training gun dogs, keeping records and sometimes arranging clay shoots.

River keepers or ghillies protect and manage rivers and streams as habitats for trout and salmon. They may hatch fish from eggs or buy in young fish.


What's the working environment like for a gamekeeper?

Gamekeepers work long, often irregular hours, usually with early starts, late finishes and weekend work.

Most of the time is spent outdoors in all weather conditions. There is a lot of walking and work can involve lifting and bending.

What does it take to become a gamekeeper?

To be a gamekeeper you should be:

  • physically fit and energetic
  • willing to work outdoors in all weather conditions
  • interested in rural pursuits
  • good at working with your hands and willing to tackle all sorts of practical jobs
  • able to work on your own for long periods of time but also work as part of a small team
  • safety conscious
  • alert and observant
  • able to communicate well with others.


Gamekeeper career opportunities

Employment may be with a landowner or a shooting syndicate that rents shooting rights from a landowner.

The number of gamekeepers has decreased over the past few years and there is a lot of competition for vacancies. Many gamekeepers begin on a part- time basis on smaller shoots and progress to full-time positions.

With experience progression to head game keeper may be possible.

Some gamekeepers become self-employed, by renting the shooting rights to land. Some gamekeepers work as self-employed contractors.

Further information

If you would like to know more about becoming a gamekeeper that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Game Conservancy Trust
Tel: 01425 652381

British Deer Society
Address as for National Game Conservancy Trust above
Tel: 01425 655434

Lantra House
Stoneleigh Park
Nr Coventry
Tel: 0845 707 8007

Lantra career advice sites:

Lantra Awards

Royal Society for the Promotion of Health (RSPH)

National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC)
Stoneleigh Park
Tel: 024 7685 7300

Scottish Skills Testing Service (SSTS)
EH28 8NE
Tel: 0131 333 2040

National Gamekeepers Charitable Trust

National Gamekeepers' Organisation
PO Box 107
Bishop Auckland
DL14 9YW
Tel: 01388 665899

Scottish Gamekeepers Association


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