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Essential clothing for gamekeepers

Posted by Bethan Bithell on 8th Feb 2021

This guide discusses the following:

- History and Duties of the Gamekeeper

- The National Gamekeeper Organisation (NGO)

- Gamekeeper Attire (shoot days and day-to-day)

History of Gamekeeping

The role of the gamekeeper has evolved over the last couple of hundred years. Some of the first gamekeepers in the UK were tasked with protecting royal deer stocks from poachers during Medieval periods. Modern day gamekeepers are responsible for rearing game birds which involves protecting them and enabling them to thrive. Despite changes in the role, one constant has remained - gamekeepers are responsible for ensuring a healthy balance of wildlife by managing and preserving the environment and the animals within in.

Within the UK gamekeepers collectively manage over 15 million acres of land, with 70% of them looking after a 'Site of Special Scientific Interest' (SSSI). These are areas that are legally protected from development, pollution and unsustainable land management. SSSIs are typically wetlands that stock waterfowl, flower rich meadows or peat bogs.

Duties of the Gamekeeper

These largely depend upon individual environments but there are four key environments to consider:

  1. Upland Keepers - Such as grouse keeping on moorland through management of indigenous flora (plant life) and fauna (animals).
  2. Lowland Keepers - Rearing, feeding and managing game birds such as pheasants or partridges.
  3. Stalkers - Deer management (mostly in Scotland) 
  4. Gillies/River Keepers - The management of rivers and stocks of trout or salmon

Additionally, there are some specific gamekeeping roles, some of which are described below:

Pheasant Gamekeeper

The main duty of a pheasant keeper is to rear pheasants to be shot on the estate. This involves:

  • Managing predator species population e.g. foxes
  • Feeding the birds with scientifically formulated crumbs, pellets (for nutrition) and supplements (to manage disease)
  • Managing the use of resources such as incubators, pens and brooding equipment (depending upon unpredictable British weather!)
  • Managing shoot days - logistics, staffing, risk assessments etc.
  • General upkeep and maintenance of environment e.g. walls, fences, roads within the estate

Grouse Gamekeeper

Unlike pheasants, grouse are wild birds and therefore not reared in the same way. Grouse keeping duties include:

  • Burning heather to promote growth of shoots for grouse to eat
  • Managing disease 
  • Providing grit to aid digestion of woody heather
  • Predator control of foxes, weasels and stoats
  • Ensuring grouse nests are not disturbed by poachers or visitors with dogs during breeding season
  • Reporting and monitoring of grouse numbers
  • General upkeep and maintenance of environment e.g. walls, fences, roads within the estate

Gamekeeper Bodies

There are many bodies who look after the interest of Gamekeepers, including:

  • National Gamekeepers' Organisation (NGO)
  • British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC)
  • The Countryside Alliance
  • National Organisation of Beaters and Pickers Up (NOB)

These bodies provide information and advice on gamekeeping, consult with authorities, host meetings to discuss issues and keep members updated on current news in the gamekeeping world. 

Gamekeeping Attire

It goes without saying, attire for gamekeepers needs to be robust, protective and practical. A job that requires you to be outdoors all day long in every weather that the British climate can muster - often several in one day - needs quality country clothing. Heavy rain, high winds, freezing temperatures and dense undergrowth are just some of the conditions your clothing needs to be equipped to deal with. 

Warm, waterproof and tough is the answer which is what you will find from our Gamekeeping Collection.

Depending on the shoot and how it's run, gamekeepers may partake in some Beating and Picking-up. These activities require very durable, highly protective, robust clothing which will remain intact and keep you warm, dry and unscathed when moving through crops, hedges, over fences and through dense overgrowth. Read our guide on Beating in Tough Terrain for more information on tough clothing suggestions.

Shoot Days

It is worth nothing that day-to-day wear and shoot day attire will vary. Shoot days entail a more formal dress code whereas everyday-wear compromises on some style for comfort and practicality. Read our guide (link above) and see suggestions of formal attire below. 

Bonart Game
Tweed Jacket
Hoggs of Fife Harewood Lambswool Tweed Breeks Grisport Ranger
High-leg Shooting Boot

Normal Working Day

As a gamekeeper, much of your time will be spent on tasks such as rearing chicks (feeding, monitoring, transporting), managing predator species, carrying out maintenance of fences, pens and sheds, and managing the environment in which the shoot drives will take place. These tasks require hard wearing, heavy duty clothing that is waterproof and breathable. From modern GORE-TEX products to traditional wax clothing, our Fieldsports Collection is extensive and covers a wide range of tastes and preferences.  

Percussion Imperlight
Hunting Jacket

Ridgeline Pintail
Explorer II Smock

Hoggs of Fife Ghillie II
Waterproof Fleece Jacket

Rapace Trousers

Highlander Rexmoor
Waterproof Trousers

Sherwood Forest Gadwall
Shooting Trousers

Gundog with Game
Walking Stick

Percussion Predator 1200 Hunting Gaiters

We hope you have found this article informative and helpful. Should you have any queries on the best clothing, footwear or equipment to suit your needs, please do contact us on 01978 437029 or please email us at

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