Head keeper at Abercorn Estates
Stephen has been a gamekeeper for most of his life. He has a passion for the outdoors, conservation and animal welfare.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and what got you into gamekeeping?
A: Gamekeeping is the only thing I’ve ever known growing up. I love the outdoors and conservation and animal welfare are very close to my heart.
My father was head keeper on the estate for 35 years. I was under-keeper for 20 years before taking over from my father in 2012. It was the one profession I knew I would just fall into and am delighted to be a part of.
Since taking on this role, I have been proud of expanding the shoot and improving the quality of the drives. We have also received many prestigious Great Taste Awards for our wild sika venison since 2014 and aim to continue this quality.
Q: What is your most memorable moment as a gamekeeper?
A: In 2019 we hosted the British and Irish Spaniel Championships. It was such a privilege to be selected, as not every estate gets the opportunity to host such a prestigious event.
We are looking forward to the Irish Championships returning in 2020.
Q: What’s the best thing about being a gamekeeper?
A: The practical outdoor life. I wouldn’t be happy spending any prolonged periods indoors or behind a computer. Being a gamekeeper provides a lot of variety throughout the year and it is a satisfying job when everything comes together for the beginning of a new shoot season.
If you like the outdoor life, are hard-working and have a genuine passion for the countryside, shooting, and conservation, then it’s the vocation for you! It is about the love of the job.
Q: Do you think there is a future for gamekeepers and what advice would you give to someone thinking of a career?
A: Ultimately yes!
As long as there are people who still enjoy the sport and wish to spend their time visiting new locations to shoot, there is a future for gamekeeping.
There will always be the need for someone to help maintain wildlife and this will no doubt sustain the experienced keepers and landowners who are passionate about the sport and are able to adapt to the changing economic climate.