Swinton estate
Swinton Estate

A modern gamekeepers’ event with a familiar objective

With the dust now settled on BASC’s Northern gamekeepers’ conference at Swinton Park, our deputy director of shooting operations, Gareth Dockerty, reflects on an eventful and accomplished day in North Yorkshire.

Gamekeepers are a vital part of the shooting community and of BASC as an organisation. They are the heartbeat of our culture. They represent the professional side of shooting and set the tone for many of us, as well as having the ability to demonstrate everything that shooting can deliver for nature, society and the economy. Gamekeepers are the rock stars and icons – if they have a certain dog or wear a particular brand of jacket, you can bet the local sales soar as the rest of us follow their lead.

The gamekeeper conference at Swinton Estate and those across the UK are about giving gamekeepers a voice to challenge both BASC and the decision makers who impact their livelihoods. They provide the perfect opportunity to connect the specialist BASC staff with the coalface of our community. The objective of securing sustainable shooting for generations to come can only be achieved if BASC employs the best specialists available who listen to the needs of our shooting community.

Demonstrating our expertise and commitment

BASC has invested in a dedicated legal team, alongside our firearms, education and outreach, and regional specialists. We are present at stakeholder meetings, engage with consultations, and hold the government to account when the service they provide falls short. We are fighting for sustainable shooting and the countryside on many levels constantly and simultaneously. The opportunity for these specialists to receive feedback on their work is priceless.

Steve Barclay
Secretary of State for Defra, Steve Barclay at the Northern Gamekeepers' Conference

Attended by the Secretary of State

The attendance of the Secretary of State for Defra, Steve Barclay, demonstrates that BASC can get the highest level of government within our sector to listen. Gamekeepers had the opportunity to ask him some searching questions and be reassured that the government does listen to BASC and the views of its members. Unsurprisingly the chaos caused by the last-minute introduction of gamebird release licences on Special Protection Areas was a key discussion point.

Clay shoot

The social side of shooting is a key part of our culture, so the chance to unwind in the afternoon and catch up with friends while breaking some clays at the impressive E J Churchill shooting ground was a must. The £2,500 in prizes also added a healthy element of competition as the Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust undertook free health checks.

Feedback and next steps

The feedback from the day has been excellent. Many attendees were impressed with the investment in our legal team at BASC, knowing that we have the skills to defend shooting, and the financial backing to challenge decisions in court if necessary. Sometimes we need to lift the work we are doing beyond our magazine, social media, podcast, and press releases and there really is no substitute for face-to-face engagement with our members.

We will now reflect and discuss how we could improve this event and the other conferences for next year. They certainly provided excellent value for money and were educational for all those who attended.

The good news is that clubs, syndicates and shoots, whether involved with game shooting, pest control or deer management, have not missed out, as each region across England provides complimentary and bespoke shoot briefings for our members. 

We will continue to give all members the chance to meet our specialists and get the advice they need to secure their shooting activities and fight for our community.

To find out more about BASC’s regional teams, and to find your local BASC office, head to our dedicated pages here.