Thu. Jul 7th, 2022

Field Sports Scotland

Hunting and Field Sports in Scotland

Where The Passion Comes From

My First Royal

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with the Outdoors. Every chance I got to go roaming and fishing and chopping at sticks with a pen knife or playing “armies” and climbing trees I was there, day or night rain or shine. For some of my Life I moved around a little when I was younger and I found it very hard to “fit” in and make friends with most people coming to wrong conclusion. Instead of going to school I found myself following my “old man”  to work on the farms etc and I was always in the thick of it. I had my problems growing up but I always found solace being outdoors. One thing I was always able to enjoy and feel free around was nature. I loved being in the woods or on the hill and the worst weather the better. I was probably no different from a lot of country boys in that way but I had such a fascination with adverse weather and tough terrain I am surprised I have lived to be the age I am. Bad weather excites me and gives me a rush I just cannot control, well except lightning but that’s a whole different story. One of my greatest passions was tracking animals. I would get myself a disposable camera and follow animal tracks and was always on the lookout for something to click away at, nothing pleased me more than hiding in thick cover covered in camo. I spent a lot of time on my own as a kid and I think although I did not particularly like my own company I never felt lonely when I was around nature. Some people may think it strange but I especially loved being out at night. No-one was about and the world just seems to come alive, it was amazing. I fell in love with nature and I fell in love with Gamekeeping and the romanticism of the trade. I saw something very special in the gamekeeping world and I felt, to me, it offered what I was looking for. As I grew older I chose work around nature and working at night but luck was never my fortune and life wasn’t very good so I had to give up what I loved for some self preservation and in doing so I learned to grow up, but, growing up never seem to change my passion for wildlife. As an adult I again found myself moving from one job to the next and one town to the next but my dream was always to settle down and have a keepering job. Life never brings what you want or if it does it manages to offer you snippets. Over the years I tried and tried to get back on to an estate without prevail but I still carried on. I got married and had a team of kids but still my dreams have not been fulfilled. At this point I was running my own IT business with some very good contracts as well as working in security at the weekend. A few years ago my boss on the security job offered me a way of getting back into keepering style work, he owns a Game Management company that managed the wildlife for a number of private woodlands, I grabbed it with both hands hoping that this was my chance. For a couple of years I spent 2 to 3 nights a week dragging deer off clear fells, for the first year there was no pay at all, the work was hard and it truly showed my lack of fitness. It still was not what I fully wanted to do but it was close so I bore the hard work. Nights were long and cold and my lack of finances meant that I had the most basic of equipment which in many cases were truly not up for the job. Life was being affected in other ways too and family life was hard as I was cancelling contracts just to do deer and still working security at the weekends, but still I persevered as all I ever wanted to do was work in this world. Over time I took on my own grounds managing deer and pest control, visiting farms and crofts and offering my services for free as well as still working 2 to 3 nights a week shooting and dragging deer but with the added pressures working the reamining four nights a week doing my own grounds, basically doing the job of a team of keepers but not the same benifits. All through this still trying to balance a home life and 100 miles a day of school runs. Don’t get me wrong without the help of my wife it would be impossible not just hard. There is a number of questions I always get asked but the main ones are  “how did you get into doing deer?” and ” can you get me a job?”. I always reply with the same answer “are you sure?” I am not being abnoxious when giving this reply, what I do is definitely not for everyone and there is No future in it, sometimes I truly hate what I do, when your knee deep in a bog dragging a deer over some of the toughest terrain possibly there is times I just wanna break down and cry especially knowing ten minutes after you have finished this drag your probably going to have to do another one then another one. There is no glamour in what I do it’s truly just a numbers game. On the other hand most of the time I love it, I mean there is nothing that beats the feeling of being outside and working where I work except the smile on my children’s faces when they see me after not seeing me for a couple of days. In my heart and in my head I am grateful for the opportunities I am given although I do feel downtrodden every-time I apply and get turned down for a keepering position. My dream is still to be a keeper and I hope my hard work pays off one day. If by chance it doesn’t then I know I have given it my best, but I always feel privileged to be part of a community like the one I am in and I really do love what I do. What saddens me is that i think that Keepering in a whole is a dying trade. There has been a lot of diverse reaction to this world of late by people that do not know or understand the countryside, although the evidence is clear to how good proper wildlife and land management is to the ecology of the country. Sometimes I can see that the community I love being part of is its own worst enemy providing ammunition to the critics of the industry. There has been a lot of development in modern management and I love that but there is still a pomposity and snobbery in and around the profession that needs to be eradicated. There is a division between all the country sports that is sometimes embarrassing. In the end it is still a profession I love no matter its faults and I have the upmost respect for those that are in it. This has been my story, a lot I have missed out for reasons not to upset anyone but it is an insight into my journey and who I am. I understand my own faults and I understand that life never always give you what you think you deserve and all you can do is try your best to do what you need to do. It is a pleasure though to learn and converse with like minded people and I love it all no matter how hard it makes my life but I do what I need to do to stay involved. I spend hours upon hours working on giving opportunities and advice to people less fortunate as I am and it makes me feel like I am giving back.