Gamekeeper of the Month – October

Charlie Newman

Trainee gamekeeper at Sparsholt College

Trainee gamekeeper at Sparsholt College and BASC’s 2020 Legacy Scholarship winner.

Q: Why did you want to become a gamekeeper?

A: Since the age of seven, I have been fascinated by nature and the great outdoors. I spent my holidays and weekends with my grandfather on his shoot and this is where my love for game, deer and wildlife management spawned.

I have always dreamt about owning my own estate one day, with the possibility of attracting wildlife such as nightjars and hen harriers.

My fascination has always been wild deer. I was amazed by just how secretive such a large animal can be. The adrenaline rush from stalking into the proximity of a wild deer is still just as exciting as my first encounter. This is where my desire for deer management came from. I have always understood the need to manage them and I would like to be a part of the bigger picture.

Q: Did anyone inspire you?

A: My grandfather inspired me to pursue gamekeeping on a professional level.

I grew up helping him on his sporting estate and this is where I was taught the fundamentals of gamekeeping such as pest control, disease checks and conservation principles.

I would routinely wake up every morning of spring to check traps and snares. As I grew older, my responsibilities on the shoot grew also. By the time I was 14, I was independently feeding, checking traps and helping out on shoot days.

Q: What do you think the future holds for gamekeeping and shooting?

A: It is clear that game shooting is under pressure from many angles, now more than ever.

As a community it is up to us to provide positive publicity in order to sway negative opinion as we demonstrate that careful management of wildlife is beneficial to a flourishing ecosystem.

My generation are best placed to influence others through the likes of social media to ensure that the future of country sports and the industries that support them are secure for generations to come.

I think we must adapt, embrace change and move forward in the modern world. Not reside in the past.

Q: As an aspiring gamekeeper, are there any challenges or barriers you’ve had to overcome to begin your career?

A: The first challenge to overcome is the potential negative prejudice placed upon a young gamekeeper, which could originate from family, friends, colleagues and teachers for example. Many young gamekeepers are afraid to talk about their career to others in fear of repercussions. This is wrong.

Another challenge facing young aspiring ‘keepers is the lack of online resources which are essential to build knowledge prior to finding a job. For example, there is little information online regarding the basics such as pheasant pen construction. As young ‘keepers the internet is the first place I’d look for information.

Q: During your first year at college, have you discovered parts of a gamekeeper’s role which you had not considered or realised took place before?

A: Thankfully, I was very privileged to grow up on a shoot in a shooting family.

The one thing which surprised me is the amount of effort that all keepers put into conservation when the game birds are out of season! For example, woodland management and the barn owl and kestrel boxes placed in barns or fields, or the dormouse boxes in hedgerows. All of these conservation acts are often kept quiet by the keepers and is something that the greater public do not, but should, see.

Q: What would you say to encourage the next generation to consider a career in gamekeeping?

A: I would say to anyone thinking about becoming a gamekeeper that it’s a great way of life but you must view it as a vocation, not just a job. It also takes a certain character to succeed and enjoy gamekeeping.

I would encourage young people to spend the summer holidays with a gamekeeper to experience the job first-hand.

Q: Do you have any dogs? If so, what dogs do you have? What do you love about them the most?

A: I have always grown up with black Labradors which have all been used as gundogs. I have been taught how to successfully train a pup.

This experience will help me in the near future when I get my very own dog. The thing I love the most about Labradors is their loyalty and eagerness to learn.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: Any spare time I get I am usually out with my camera. I am an avid wildlife photographer specialising in wild deer, primarily roe and muntjac, and sika and red deer population in the New Forest.

Simply being in the outdoors, in whatever weather, keeps me happy.

Q: What do you know about the Gamekeepers Welfare Trust and how they can help gamekeepers?

A: The Gamekeepers Welfare Trust offer a professional, emotional and financial support network for gamekeepers and allied trades. They have a 24-hour confidential support helpline called Jamie’s helpline and also advertise a list of career opportunities.