Gamekeeping students at Hartpury got the chance to put down their flags and get into the thick of the action at a shoot recently.
Hartpury is one of very few colleges nationally that runs a commercial shoot, giving its Gamekeeping students the opportunity to be immersed in the preparations for a major shoot, as well as being involved in running the event on the day and handling clients. Hartpury hosts 20 commercial shoots between October and January.
Usually, the students act as ‘beaters’, driving the pheasants and partridges out of the foliage for the shooters. However, on Beaters Day – the last day of the shooting season - they get the unique opportunity to actually take part in the shoot.
Students on the two-year Countryside Management (Game) BTEC Level Three Diploma at Hartpury benefit from the very best teaching and equipment, with the College having recently invested in a brand new incubator.
They are fully involved in rearing the pheasants and partridges, protecting them from predators and in disease prevention. This month, they will be collecting the eggs and when they hatch, students will move the young into the rearing pens to work with during the Spring.
Gamekeeping students also get the chance to work with the College’s 70-strong red deer herd at Maisemore, rearing and handling them from birth. Very few colleges outside of Scotland have their own deer. Hartpury also boasts its own fishing lake.
Janatha Stout, Head of Agriculture at Hartpury said: “We pride ourselves on the fact that our Gamekeeping and Conservation Management students get so much hands on, practical experience here.
“We have such a fantastic estate here which allows us to do a great deal of our teaching outdoors, complimenting what the students learn in the classroom.
“As part of their course, they also carry out game duties with our gamekeeper and work with the deer park manager on a rota basis. Gamekeeping is not a nine to five job and the course here reflects that.”
Conservation is also a key element of the Gamekeeping course, with students getting the chance to gain practical experience in countryside management, including coppicing trees, fencing, hanging gates, managing woodland habitats and greenwood crafts. They also learn to weld and about pest and predator control. The course also includes a business module.
While many students go on to become gamekeepers, others become involved in rearing birds on a large scale on game farms, and business skills are crucial whatever career path they choose.
To apply for a gamekeeping or countryside management course at Hartpury or for more information, visit www.hartpury.ac.uk