Ciaran Woodman-Robinson, underkeeper at Edradynate Estate wins SGA Young Gamekeeper of the Year 2019.
The 22 year old, crowned SGA Young Gamekeeper of the Year 2019 at GWCT Scottish Game Fair, is checking hoppers, overlooking the beautiful Perthshire countryside which rolls out below one of the partridge pens he is attending to.
The estate where he has now enjoyed 4 summers, Edradynate, just got their birds in yesterday and it’s all hands on deck as Ciaran loads up food bags to ensure all the feed points are replenished. The heavy bags thump into the back of the ATV, gears are engaged and we’re off upwards.
There are a number of pens situated across the ground which rises steadily from low ground and farmland right up to a stretch of heather moor and open hill up on the top; home to some coveys of red grouse and- pleasingly- a growing number of lapwing and curlew since last year.
Keeping the pheasants and partridges fed, watered and disease-free is Ciaran’s round-the-clock responsibility just now along with his Head Keeper, Ian Smith. There are shoot days planned for the season and the estate must have the birds to fulfil the clients’ expectations. Not only that, there are foxes about and Ciaran smiles at the fact he managed to take a cub in the lamp the night before, close to where some sheep roam and maintain a watchful, backward stare as we traverse their grazing grounds. Stopping predators from developing a taste for the estate’s new feathered arrivals is all part of the tapestry, as the new season draws ever closer.
“At the moment, it’s feeding, feeding and more feeding but it is the same for every pheasant keeper just now,” he says, hauling back a roll cage placed around the hoppers, to stop the occasional incoming deer from getting a free snack. “We will feed first thing in the morning to just after lunch and then we will be checking everything is ok after that. Then, you might get a little break depending on what other jobs needs done about the place, and then, whatever happens, you’ll be sitting out somewhere for a fox, later on.”
In many ways, Ciaran owes his new life to the fox- and his pursuit of them. They are wily mammals which genuinely fascinate him.
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Article by: Scottish Gamekeeper’s Association