Members of Hartpury’s shoot picked up the beaters’ flags to give gamekeeping students the opportunity to get into the thick of the action today.
Hartpury is one of very few colleges nationally that runs a commercial shoot, giving its gamekeeping students the chance 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 trees and bushes 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 are also fully involved in rearing the pheasants and partridges, protecting them from predators and taking steps to prevent disease. Later this month, they will be collecting the eggs and when they hatch, they 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. Hartpury also boasts its own fishing lake, providing additional learning opportunities.
Janatha Stout, Head of Agriculture at Hartpury, said: “Our Gamekeeping and Conservation Management students get so much hands on, practical experience. Using our large and diverse estate as their outdoor classroom, they are able to put their theoretical knowledge to the test in real-life practical situations right on their doorstep.
“Being involved in a commercial shoot is a fantastic opportunity for our students and the chance to join in on the final shoot day is reward for all of their hard work during the season.
“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, which involves very early mornings! Gamekeeping is not a nine to five job and the course here reflects that.”
Students also gain practical experience in countryside management, including coppicing trees, fencing, hanging gates, managing woodland habitats and greenwood crafts. They learn to weld and about pest and predator control, while there is also a business element to their course.
While many students go on to become gamekeepers, others become involved in rearing birds on a large scale on game farm. To find out more about the gamekeeping or countryside management course at Hartpury, visit www.hartpury.ac.uk