As part of my job with the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, I organise events and attend shows to help spread the word about the benefits of Gamekeeping and the good work the organisation does. I meet some really fascinating people at these meetings and shows who are passionate about game, game shooting and keeping. I also meet a lot of people who don’t really know what it’s all about.

When we visit game fairs, the NGO stand offers visitors relevant information about our profession and sport. You don’t have to be a member or a Keeper, everyone is welcome to sit down and have a cup of tea or coffee and meet with like-minded people. A typical conversation for me goes something like this…

Member of the public – “I would like to join the NGO but I am not a Gamekeeper”.

Me – “Oh, well you don’t need to be a Gamekeeper to be a member of the NGO. We have a supporters membership which is the same price and has the same benefits as the Keepers’ membership”.

Member of the public – “That’s great, because I look after a little shoot for our syndicate so I would love to sign up to support the Organisation”.

Me – “Well, in that case you should join as a Keeper member. The NGO treat all Keepers, Stalkers, River Keepers and Ghillies the same, be they full-time, part-time or amateur”.

Member of the public – “Oh, I had no idea; in that case I will join as a Keeper member”.

Many part-time or amateur Keepers do not see themselves as a ‘Keeper’, they just enjoy rearing, feeding, vermin and predator control, and habitat management. But aren’t these the activities of a Keeper? Just because you are not doing the ‘job’ full time or getting paid for it, that doesn’t make what you are doing or what you are trying to achieve any less worthwhile. This is why the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation classes all Keepers in the same bracket. They are all doing a similar thing, just to a different scale.

The Cambridge English dictionary defines a Gamekeeper as:

A person whose job is to take care of wild animals and birds that are kept especially for hunting.

As long as you are the main person in charge and actively involved with running a shoot you can class yourself as a Keeper.

Part-time and amateur Keepers can have a pretty hard time juggling a day job and keeping - especially if they are releasing pheasants and partridges. We have an obligation to check our stock at least once a day, with part-time or amateur Keepers often having to check their birds first thing in the morning before they set off for work and then again on the way home to put the little darlings to bed.

Trapping, snaring and lamping are all activities that Gamekeepers undertake, whether they be amateur or full-time professional, though probably not to the same levels. This important job still has to be done.

So next time you are around your small syndicate shoot filling up hoppers, checking your trap line and planning next season’s cover strips, don’t think of yourself as a person who is just out and about. Professional Gamekeepers will be doing the same thing. So isn’t that what you are?

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation is the representative body for Keepers (full and part-time as well as amateur) in England and Wales and it is important that all Keepers are members of the Organisation to help us fight for our right to continue our beneficial conservation work.

Sportsman Game Feeds are proud to work with and support the NGO and strive to make all Gamekeepers, be they amateur or professional, aware of the importance of feed and nutrition.