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Underkeeper Apprenticeship

This course is currently under development.

The broad purpose of the occupation is to participate in habitat management, pest and predator control and animal husbandry in support of a shooting enterprise.

As well as producing a harvestable surplus of gamebirds, an underkeeper contributes to associated conservation activities for the benefit of other flora and fauna. An underkeeper will assist on shoot days and will be expected to undertake routine estate maintenance. In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with a variety of organisations and individuals, including estate managers, senior gamekeepers, police/other statutory bodies, paying guests, other land users and the general public. Underkeeper’s work under some challenging conditions and can be expected to work some unsociable hours and will be outdoors in all weathers. They need to follow instructions precisely from the headkeeper or estate manager to help deliver an estate’s management plan, but frequently operate alone and need to rely on their own initiative and adaptability. An employee in this occupation will be responsible for supporting the management of landscapes, wildlife and shooting activities. To fulfil these requirements an underkeeper needs to be competent and qualified in a range of practical gamekeeping skills, including animal and bird husbandry, the creation and maintenance of healthy habitat, and the responsible and appropriate use of all relevant traps, pesticides, hand tools, power tools and firearms.

Auction Mart
Study Location
18 Months
depending on Level
Level 2
Qualification Level
1 day / week (term-time)
College Attendance

Entry Requirements

  • Ideally, candidates will have 5 GCSEs grade 9-4 (A*-C) including English and maths or equivalent. Apprentices without English or maths at Level 2 must achieve this prior to taking the end-point assessment
  • Employment in the industry

What you will study

  • Legislation and licensing requirements applicable to game shooting in England.
  • The ecological requirements of relevant game species and habitat preferences.
  • The requirements of animal and bird husbandry  – use of medications, feeding wild birds, care of laying birds, hatching eggs and rearing game, releasing game and care of associated animals such as gundogs.
  • How to maximise conservation benefits relevant to the shooting enterprise.
  • Current legislation appropriate to rifle and shotgun use.
  • Rifle and shotgun cleaning and routine maintenance procedures, storage and transportation
  • Relevant health and safety legislation and industry good practice.
  • The law and Code of Practice covering fox snaring and how to plan an integrated pest and predator control regime
  • The social and economic impact of shooting in the UK.
  • How to manage public access, – maintaining public footpaths and access points such as stiles and gates and the implications of public access
  • Identifying the tools and methods appropriate for relevant land management operations
  • Recognise common countryside flora and fauna.
  • Understand landscape designations such as Site of Special Scientific Interest, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, RAMSAR and the laws surrounding them.
  • Understand the principles of flushing game on a driven shoot day, including a thorough understanding of the drives on a relevant shooting enterprise.
  • Understand current legislation on animal welfare and species protection legislation such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act, Animal Welfare Act, the Conservation Habitats of Species Regulations, UK trapping standards, Wild Mammals Protection Act etc.
  • An understanding of legislation relating to deer, and in particular the Deer Act and be able to identify deer
  • Maintain good standards of health and safety, keeping self and others safe in the workplace.
  • Administer emergency first aid.
  • Use land management techniques such as burning, pesticide application, coppicing, hedgelaying, pond creation and planting.
  • Recognise and deal with common gamebird diseases through administering medication and seeking veterinary assistance as appropriate, in a speedy and timely manner.
  • Undertake the care of gundogs through identifying and treating minor injuries and ailments.
  • Use a variety of integrated methods to control pests and predators of game, including firearms, traps and poisons.
  • Identify relevant species of game, pests, predators and vegetation.
  • Use digital technology relevant to the workplace effectively, including Global Positioning Systems and the responsible use of social media.
  • Work safely and carry out risk assessments for all practical land management activities undertaken such as tree felling, hedgelaying, burning, pond creation, pesticide application and planting.
  • Select and use the appropriate personal protective equipment.
  • Carry out pre-use safety checks on ATVs, tractors, chainsaws, strimmers and brushcutters.
  • Undertake pre-use maintenance of tractors and ATVs.
  • Operate and ride/ drive tractors, both sit in and sit-astride ATVs, and with a trailer or implement.
  • Hitch a trailer and PTO driven attachments.
  • Carry out maintenance of strimmers, brushcutters and chainsaws.
  • Cross-cut timber using a chainsaw.
  • Fell and process trees up to 380mm.
  • Operate strimmers and brushcutters safely.
  • Set fox snares according to the Code of Best Practice.
  • Demonstrate safe handling and use of a rifle and a shotgun.
  • Manually handle loads safely such as moving coppiced wood, gundogs, equipment or game.
  • Care of working dogs, to include fitness, routine care and handling in the field.
  • Communicate instructions clearly to beaters/pickers and shoot guests.
  • Prepare game at the end of the shoot.
  • Capable of accurate rifle shooting.
  • Have a strong work ethic, including self-motivation and time management.
  • Have a flexible, positive attitude to work.
  • Ability to work as a lone worker and as a member of a team.
  • A willingness to listen and learn from others.
  • An enthusiasm for the conservation benefits of game shooting.
  • Ability to take personal responsibility.
  • Problem-solving and effective decision-making.
  • To respect wildlife and all animals in their care.
  • Level 2 Award in Wild Game Meat Hygiene or the Game Meat Hygiene Training Course, (provided by NGO)
  • Level 2 Award in Safe Use of Pesticides.
  • Level 2 Rat Control for Gamekeepers certificate

What's Next?


  • Underkeeper
  • Gamekeeper
To apply for an Apprenticeship, please complete the online application form and our Apprenticeship Team will contact you to arrange an interview.
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