A good day's shooting requires careful planning and a lot of hard work from a team of professionals who often have years of experience. From the keeper to the loader, everyone involved wants to make sure that the guns have the best experience possible. These professionals work extremely hard to make a day's shooting enjoyable for all – with keepers often working outside all day, every day. A keeper’s peak season happens to coincide with the worst weather of the year in the UK, and so their dedication to their profession should not be underestimated.
Certain factors can’t be predicted, such as the weather, but most guns appreciate even the smallest actions that help make the day a better experience overall. If the beater helps you with your dog or the picker up makes an extra effort to find a wounded bird, you might feel a more generous tip is in order at the end of the day.
Tipping a gamekeeper can quickly get even the most experienced gun scratching their head. Guns may decide to tip more for a variety of reasons, depending on their personal opinions about what makes the best day's shooting. Some tip more because they shot the best pheasant they’ve ever shot, while others may tip simply because everyone has been exceptionally friendly and helpful. A few guns even tip more if the weather was ideal.
As a day's shooting comes to a close, you’ll often find the guns deciding as a group how much to tip. Customary amounts are not widely known, and while a few guns have a set equation they use, some guns still rely on the opinions of others before deciding how much to tip. You might also be given some guidance by your shoot captain on the day. While gamekeepers earn a salary, they also heavily rely on tips to top up what is otherwise often a very basic salary.
So how much should I tip then?
Tipping is a highly personal thing and is something that you are doing to thank someone for their efforts in making your experience enjoyable. It should really be entirely between you and the keeper with any tip being passed in the palm of your hand as you shake the keepers hand at the end of the day (invariably as he is giving you a brace to take home).
A rough rule of thumb would be to tip £20 as a baseline with a further £10 for every 100 birds shot. Having said that, there are plenty of 80 bird days when you have had the bulk of the sport where you might want to round up by £10. Likewise if you have had a 110 bird day but have been out of the shooting all day then you may feel inclined to round down. Ultimately a keeper’s job is to ensure that everyone gets sport on most drives and a good keeper will know where the birds are going and adjust accordingly so, if you have been in the hot seat all day then show your appreciation and vice versa.
Of course, every gun has a different method for determining how much to tip a gamekeeper. Do you have a formula, or do you decide on the day as a group? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page!