From education to employment


Reference Number: ST0412

Details of standard

Occupation summary

This occupation is found in the game and wildlife management sector. 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.

Typical job titles

Typical job titles include Underkeeper, Gamekeeper, Beatkeeper, Wildlife manager.

Occupation duties



Duty 1 Maintain healthy gamebird populations including the use of medications, feeding wild birds, care of laying birds, hatching eggs, rearing game, recognise and responding common diseases and releasing game, whilst raising animals with optimal welfare and consideration for their needs throughout the different stages of life Uphold the five animal welfare freedoms as contained in the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

K2 K3 K15 K16 K21

S1 S4 S6 S7

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8

Duty 2 Use a variety of integrated methods to control pests and predators of game, including the use of firearms, traps and pesticides.

K1 K2 K5 K6 K7 K8 K9 K10 K11 K13 K16 K19

S1 S6 S7 S8 S9 S10 S19 S20 S21

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B8

Duty 3 Participate in the running of a shoot day by ensuring all equipment is ready to use, help with briefing beaters/pickers, welcome guests, assist with the beating line for drives, prepare game for the chiller and prepare for the next day.

K1 K5 K7 K8 K9 K12 K13 K20

S1 S2 S5 S7 S8 S10 S13 S14 S20 S21 S22 S23 S24

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8

Duty 4 Undertake the care of gundogs.


S1 S5 S21 S22

B1 B3 B4 B7 B8

Duty 5 Work safely and undertake risk assessments for all aspects of work. Maintain good standards of health and safety for self and others. Administer emergency first aid.

K5 K6 K7 K8 K9 K13 K14

S1 S2 S9 S10 S11 S12 S18 S20 S21

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8

Duty 6 Use ATVs, tractors, chainsaws, strimmers and brushcutters that you identify as appropriate to undertake, maintain and create the habitat appropriate to the landscape.

K4 K9 K14 K17 K18 K19

S10 S11 S12 S13 S14 S15 S16 S17 S18 S19 S21

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7

Duty 7 Identify and fell trees that require management due to disease, to provide conservation benefits and provide timber.

K2 K4 K9 K12 K13

S1 S3 S7 S9 S10 S11 S12 S13 S14 S15 S16 S17 S18 S21

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8

Duty 8 Operate with current legislation and licensing requirements.

K1 K5 K9 K10 K11 K13 K22

S19 S20

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8

Duty 9 Use firearms safely and comply with all legal requirements (Home Office guidance) for ownership, storage and use.

K1 K5 K6 K7 K8 K13

S1 S2 S10 S20 S21 S25

B4 B5 B6 B7

Duty 10 Ensure safe access to land for the general public where appropriate.

K1 K5 K8 K9 K12 K13

S1 S2 S8 S9 S18 S19

B1 B2 B3 B4 B6 B7

Duty 11 Creation and maintenance of healthy habitat but undertaking conservation management that is appropriate to the landscape to ensure sustainable and thriving wildlife and habitats.

K2 K4 K13 K14 K17 K18 K19

S1 S3 S7 S8 S9 S10 S13 S14 S16 S17 S18 S19 S20 S21

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8

Duty 12 Have a basic understanding of the effect of deer on the surrounding landscape and appropriate methods of control.

K2 K4 K5 K6 K7 K8 K9 K17 K18 K22 K23 K24

S20 S25

B4 B8

Duty 13 Develop an understanding of the ambassadorial role of a gamekeeper and what it means to represent the countryside and a rural way of life to the wide public.



B4 B5 B7




K1: Legislation and licensing requirements applicable to game shooting in England.

K2: The ecological requirements of relevant game species and habitat preferences.

K3: The requirements of animal and bird husbandry as dictated by the enterprise. Including the 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.

K4: How to maximise conservation benefits relevant to the shooting enterprise.

K5: Current legislation appropriate to rifle and shotgun use.

K6: Rifle and shotgun cleaning and routine maintenance procedures.

K7: Storage and transport of shotguns and rifles.

K8: Health and safety considerations relating to rifle and shotgun use.

K9: Relevant health and safety legislation and industry good practice.

K10: The law and Code of Practice covering fox snaring.

K11: Snare design and equipment preparation to comply with the code of practice.

K12: The social and economic impact of shooting in the UK.

K13: How to manage public access, to include an understanding of the requirement to maintain public footpaths and access points such as stiles and gates and the implications of public access to land mapped as ‘open country’ (mountain, moor, heath and down) or registered common land.

K14: Identifying the tools and methods appropriate for relevant land management operation, such as choosing between a nylon strimmer head and a brushcutter blade for a vegetation clearance task.

K15: Understand how to identify signs of common game bird diseases, including rotavirus, coccidiosis, gape worms, mycoplasma (‘bulgy eye’) and spironucleus/trichomonas.

K16: Understand how to plan an integrated pest and predator control regime appropriate to the landscape, choosing relevant pest control methods.

K17: Understand and identify the appropriate land management practices to enhance habitat.

K18: Recognise common countryside flora and fauna.

K19: Understand landscape designations such as Site of Special Scientific Interest, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, RAMSAR and the laws surrounding them.

K20: Understand the principles of flushing game on a driven shoot day, including a thorough understanding of the drives on a relevant shooting enterprise.

K21: The requirement for ensuring that the welfare needs of the animal are met in line with the Animal Welfare Act 2006.  Including a.) its need for a suitable environment b.) its need for a suitable diet (and water) c.) Its need to exhibit normal behaviour patterns d.) any need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals in appropriate social groupings e. its need to be protected from fear, pain, suffering, injury and disease.

K22: To have knowledge of and comply with the law relating to 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.

K23: Identify the six species of deer that live wild in the UK.

K24: An understanding of legislation relating to deer, and in particular the Deer Act.


S1 Maintain good standards of health and safety, keeping self and others safe in the workplace.

S2 Administer emergency first aid.

S3 Use land management techniques such as burning, pesticide application, coppicing, hedgelaying, pond creation and planting.

S4 Recognise and deal with common gamebird diseases through administering medication and seeking veterinary assistance as appropriate, in a speedy and timely manner.

S5 Undertake the care of gundogs through identifying and treating minor injuries and ailments.

S6 Use a variety of integrated methods to control pests and predators of game, including firearms, traps and poisons.

S7 Identify relevant species of game, pests, predators and vegetation.

S8 Use digital technology relevant to the workplace effectively, including Global Positioning Systems and the responsible use of social media.

S9 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.

S10 Select and use the appropriate personal protective equipment.

S11 Carry out pre-use safety checks on ATVs, tractors, chainsaws, strimmers and brushcutters.

S12 Undertake pre-use maintenance of tractors and ATVs.

S13 Operate and ride/ drive tractors, both sit in and sit-astride ATVs, and with a trailer or implement.

S14 Hitch a trailer and attach 3-point linkages and PTO driven attachments.

S15 Carry out maintenance of strimmers, brushcutters and chainsaws.

S16 Cross-cut timber using a chainsaw.

S17 Fell and process trees up to 380mm.

S18 Operate strimmers and brushcutters safely.

S19 Set fox snares according to the Code of Best Practice.

S20 Demonstrate safe handling and use of a rifle and a shotgun.

S21 Manually handle loads safely such as moving coppiced wood, gundogs, equipment or game.

S22 Care of working dogs, to include fitness, routine care and handling in the field.

S23 Communicate instructions clearly to beaters/pickers and shoot guests.

S24 Prepare game at the end of the shoot.

S25 Capable of accurate rifle shooting.


B1: Have a strong work ethic, including self-motivation and time management.

B2: Have a flexible, positive attitude to work.

B3: Ability to work as a lone worker and as a member of a team.

B4: A willingness to listen and learn from others.

B5: An enthusiasm for the conservation benefits of game shooting.

B6: Ability to take personal responsibility.

B7: Problem solving and effective decision making.

B8: To respect wildlife and all animals in their care.


English and Maths qualifications

Apprentices without level 1 English and maths will need to achieve this level and apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to take the tests for this level prior to taking the end-point assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL. 

Other qualifications

Mandatory qualification 1: Level 2 Award in Wild Game Hygiene

Level of qualification: 2

Mandatory qualification 2: Pesticide Application 1

Level of qualification: 2

Mandatory qualification 3: Rat Control for Gamekeepers certificate

Level of qualification: 2

Additional details

Occupational Level: 2
Duration (months): 18


This standard will be reviewed after three years.

Crown copyright © 2020. You may re-use this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence. Visit

Related Articles