Shoot owner from Bedfordshire
Paul is a shoot owner and gamekeeper from Bedfordshire.
Q: Why did you become a gamekeeper?
A: I love being in the countryside and enjoying the different seasons.
Q: Did anyone inspire you to become a gamekeeper?
A: It was my father, who has been a gamekeeper all his life, that inspired me to become one myself. He started his career in Hungerford, moved to Ireland for four years and then came back to Cotswolds where he worked until he recently retired.
Q: Do you have a motto as a gamekeeper?
A: Yes, I do – actions bring success.
Q: What do you love about this job the most?
A: Being my own boss, the early mornings, and being out when no-one else is about and seeing the woods wake up. I love the shooting community and how the camaraderie goes from estate to estate.
Q: Do you think there is a future for gamekeepers and shooting?
A: There will always be a future for looking after and managing the countryside in whatever capacity. From managing the wild deer stock through to conservation projects which make rural England the way it looks today, there is a lot of work to be done.
Q: What would you say to encourage the next generation to think about gamekeeping as a career?
A: Make sure you learn about the other management required on a rural estate, from forestry through to the commercial aspects of making an estate a viable business.
Q: What does the job involve that people might not know about at all?
A: As with all jobs, there are some downsides to gamekeeping, too: poaching, disease, pandemics and… pressure washing!
Q: Do you have any red-listed or unusual wildlife on your shoot?
A: We have interesting birds of prey passing through the estate, such as peregrines and hobbies. We also see the occasional egret and nightingale. Those are some of my favourites.
Q: What’s your greatest achievement? What are you proud of the most?
A: Starting as a YTS gamekeeper and going through all the ranks and now running my own two successful shoots.
Q: What charity initiatives do you run (e.g. white pheasant fine)?
A: We do a sweepstake and mix it up with pheasants x partridges or game x partridges. Last year we supported Testicular Cancer, Breast Cancer and Keech Hospice.
Q: What is your most essential piece of kit?
A: My phone, unfortunately. But my favourite is my quad bike.
Q: What dogs do you have? What do you love about them most?
A: Cocker spaniels – they are friendly, happy and never stop moving.
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I practise kickboxing and teach self-defence.