Wednesday 12 August 2020


To the gamekeepers on the 12th August, well done to all those working people who have shown pride and professionalism through the hardships of winter, the long hours at the fox dens with the eyelids almost stuck together so that all the birds that share the moor with the red and black grouse- and the farmer- can get a breeding season and a successful lambing.

Your crow control, too, helping the wildlife and preventing injury to both ewe and lamb.

Your reward- if you are getting a season- is to please not yourself but others, to share their enjoyment and take pride in the bountiful wildlife your management has created with all the wee changes you have made over your many hours of toil and planning. Managing tick burdens, managing deer, managing the pests that don’t just affect game but other species and people, too.

To all those who wail and decry that the 12th is all so ‘toffs can blast things from the sky’, do not let them belittle your contribution to Scotland. The world is full of critics and negative folk who will never put in as much as what gamekeepers do, thanklessly. 

The shooting, done by guests, is just an income stream. It is a source of income to enable all the rest to happen, just like growing trees, farming fish or keeping sheep. The income enables the boots on the ground, the lights in the glen windows and the safe havens for birds like the Curlew, soon to be a memory in other parts.

It maintains the moorland environments that some don’t appreciate but others look jealously on as precious and unique in other parts of the globe.

With Covid an ever-present, who knows when lockdowns may happen again.

Important to get some money back into the local businesses and trades that have suffered. The communities need the business and the VAT and tax will be handy for Scotland HQ, too.

Every land use has a trade-off. A gamekeeper’s job is to keep game. If the land was for another objective there would be no use for the gamekeeper. We don’t go to the bank and complain there is no fruit and vegetables. These parcels of land are for game birds and deer just as the bank is for money. That is the objective.

But, for all that, Scotland is getting its Less Favoured land used in a way that creates employment, avoids the fracturing of community, stops designated habitats from failing, preserves iconic species, provides access for leisure and mental health benefit, manages pests from foxes to rats, bouys up trade, produces healthy food, provides community help for Police and the Fire Service, prevents rural littering and fire raising, provides tick management and cements a culture which has served Scotland in wartime and peace. All that for very little public money spent and none whatsoever for the shooting of a grouse.

If your glass is permanently half empty, the 12th August is about toffs blowing birds out of the sky.

If you are the person working the 60 hours weeks, 23 more than the UK national full-time average, it’s your calling, your family and everything else besides.

Good luck!