21 April 2000


A gamekeeper in the

family could prove

beneficial to a

commercial farm shoot.

Jeremy Hunt reports on

the gamekeeping courses

on offer at Newton-Rigg

FARMERS sons who are keen to develop an existing shoot or start a new one as a diversification option on the family farm are ideal candidates for the range of gamekeeping courses on offer at Newton Rigg College at Penrith, Cumbria.

Helen Kerry, the colleges principal lecturer in environmental management, says Newton Riggs three gamekeeping courses attract students from a wide range of backgrounds but believes they offer a great opportunity to farmers sons.

"We have already had some students who have taken the Higher National Diploma course and then returned home to improve an existing shoot as part of a farm diversification plan.

"These courses do not only cover the practical and theoretical aspects of game management but also encompass a broad range of ancillary training aligned to the profession including business planning. And the courses also provide invaluable experience gained by actually organising and hosting a shoot," says Helen Kerry.

&#42 Three courses

The gamekeeping courses have been run at Newton Rigg College for 12 years. There are currently 50 students on the three courses – First Diploma Gamekeeping, National Diploma Management of Game and Sporting Woodland and Higher National Diploma Game and Wildlife Management.

The college aims to provide gamekeepers of the future with the knowledge and skills of new technologies and research as well as providing students with a broad understanding of the important, practical traditions of the profession.

"Game management cannot be carried out in isolation and must take account of agricultural practices, forestry, wildlife and conservation as well as public access and recreation.

"Our additional courses in game and wildlife management complement the gamekeeping qualifications," says Helen Kerry.

The First National Diploma course includes upland gamekeeping, estate and machinery skills and landbased industry and its environment and is a one-year full-time course. There are no formal entry qualifications.

The National Diploma Management of Game and Sporting Woodland is a two-year full-time course with an entry qualification of four GCSEs at grade C or better. The course includes 16-weeks practical work experience and incorporates the business side of shoot management and deer management.

The Higher National Diploma Game and Wildlife Management is for two-years full-time or three-years part-time and requires an A-level pass in an appropriate subject.

Says Helen Kerry: "This course has been designed to meet the needs of professional managers in the game and wildlife industry and incorporates fish and fisheries management and marketing and media issues as well as ecology, environmental management skills and matters affecting rural resources and the economy of the countryside."

&#42 Practical experience

Newton Rigg College, which is now part of the University of Central Lancashire, has extensive on-site game-rearing facilities to provide ample practical experience for students. And several major north country estates offer access to the students to provide a valuable insight into varying methods of game and shoot management.

As well as being taught the scientific theory that underpins modern game management, the courses also include sections on gundog care and training and also falconry.

Two students from the National Diploma course have become professional falconers.

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