A Gamekeeper’s life

Gamekeeper Angus MacLeod of the Barvas Estate
Gamekeeper Angus MacLeod of the Barvas Estate

WITH mile upon mile of moorland, hills and lochs, Scotland’s natural habitat and wildlife attracts large numbers of hunters from all over the world in pursuit of deer, game birds and the salmon, contributing almost £80 million annually to the economy.

Traditionally, it is the Gamekeepers role to maintain those unique environments and also to act as guardians for guests wishing to shoot or fish.

And Gaelic television show Trusadh: Gamekeepers follows three of these Gamekeepers – Donald Angus MacDonald on Scaliscro Estate in Uig, Lewis; Angus MacLeod on Barvas Estate, Lewis; and Niall Rowantree on Arnamurchan Estate on the west coast – showing life from their own unique perspective and proving that although the number of full time gamekeepers is on the decline, the seasonal skills handed down through the generations remain strong.

The 10,000 acre Scaliscro Estate on Lewis comprising of many lochs and rivers and from mid March to mid October, salmon is the main prize for fishermen.

Ghille Donald Angus MacDonald is an integral part of the Estate on many levels: “I was brought up on the Estate so I was here before I could walk! ‘It’s in the blood’ as they say,” comments Donald Angus, whose father was the Scaliscro Ghille before him.

On the west side of Lewis is the Barvas Estate – 33,000 acres of bare open moorland and a prime place for game birds.

Gamekeeper Angus MacLeod is charged with looking after the land and sees it as a hugely challenging job, as he said: “I think it takes at least ten years to get to know the moor properly because you see something new every day. That can keep you on your toes, and it’s certainly not a 9to5 job!”

And on Scotland’s west coast in the beautiful Ardnamurchan Estate, Deer management is a crucial part of Gamekeeper Niall Rowantree’s job – who has almost 30 years stalking experience in the area.

“Scotland is probably in the top hunting destinations in the world – North America, Africa, Scotland. They’re all held in that standards and it’s a huge value to our rural communities, and to the nation as a whole, to be able to maximise the value of our wild deer,” he said.

Trusadh: Gamekeepers, the story of the custodians of some of Scotland’s most unique and stunning environments will air on BBC ALBA, on Monday April 30th at 9pm, and repeated on Tuesday, May 1st and 10pm.