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Gamekeepers work in the upkeep and maintenance of rural countryside areas used for game and wildlife management. Sometimes the areas that game keepers look after are called beats. Keepers must make sure that there is enough game on their land for shooting, and have an important responsibility to ensure that there is a suitable, well-protected habitat for the game to live in.
Types of game include deer, partridge, pheasant, grouse, mallard duck and other birds. Some of these are vulnerable species that need to be protected; this is one responsibility of a game keeper.
There are different types of gamekeeper who work in different areas: lowland keepers work in woodland and open farmland, with smaller game birds; upland keepers work in moorland areas, usually with a combination of birds and deer; highland keepers work in the Scottish highlands and focus on the large populations of deer. The role of gamekeeper can become a managerial position, so they may have a number of supervisory and planning duties.
Typical duties of a game keeper might include:
A game keeper’s work is very seasonal, with the shooting season (late summer to winter) being the busiest time of year. This season can vary depending on the type of game that the estate specialises in. Some estates have rivers and ponds, so keepers may also be responsible for fishery management and supervising angling. They would then be known as river keepers or river ghillies. Beat keepers are similar to game keepers, as they assist in the management of a shooting estate on larger estates, dealing with a particular section of the shoot.
On larger estates, gamekeepers may have the opportunity to be promoted to the position of head keeper, with greater responsibilities and salaries, once shooting management skills and previous knowledge are gathered and combined.