Once a rigger, always a rigger…

Curtis Mossop, senior lecturer and course manager, tells us about studying game and wildlife management at Newton Rigg College.

Newton Rigg is a well-established college with an international reputation for delivering the highest standard of specialist training in game and wildlife management; it has been doing this successfully for over 22 years. During this time, hundreds of young people have come through its doors looking to take their first steps toward a career in the outdoors.

The teaching resources available to those studying at Newton Rigg College make it a completely unique learning experience. Arguably, the most notable is the College’s grouse moor, which is used on a weekly basis and enables students to undertake all aspects of upland management, including predator control, heather burning and running driven grouse days.

The Game and Wildlife department also runs a Purdey Award-winning driven partridge and pheasant shoot based on the College’s 550 acre home farm. Students are given huge amounts of responsibility while studying, none greater than running their own ‘beat’ of the partridge shoot. It is the collective responsibility of the student group to undertake all aspects of lowland ‘keepering. The shoot days are run exclusively by the students, who have to plan the drives and run the days under the roles of head keeper, under-keepers and shoot captain.

Other teaching facilities include a deer management forest, deer larder, gundog kennels, gun room, clay pigeon ground, game rearing equipment and a rearing field. This extensive range of resources enables students to gain a wide ranging set of skills which prepare them for life within the countryside sector. After completing their studies, the vast majority of students gain full-time employment as a gamekeeper, deer stalker or game farmer. Each year, there are also a number of students who decide to progress to higher education and study for degree specialising in conservation or rural land management.

A typical academic week contains subjects such as gamebird production; stalking and shooting deer; pest and predator control; estate skills; use of firearms; game meat hygiene; upland game management, and shoot management.

Due to the high numbers of residential students in the game and wildlife department, the friendships formed while studying are among the strongest ever seen by staff. The ‘Newton Rigg family’ as it is commonly referred to, is testament to the hard work, commitment and gritty determination of the students and staff alike.

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