Cole Stewart: Best Young Gamekeeper
A multi-skilled Clydesdale youngster who volunteers for Mountain Rescue and community causes in his spare time has been crowned Scotland’s best Young Gamekeeper.
Cole Stewart (20), from Braidwood, collected the coveted national prize – which recognises outstanding youthful ambassadors for the gamekeeping sector – on Friday.
The award is presented annually by The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA), the body which represents professional gamekeepers, ghillies, deer managers and wildlife rangers.
Chairman Alex Hogg presented the prize, described by the Head Stalker at Black Corries Estate in Glencoe as ‘one of a kind’, at Moy Country Fair in Inverness-shire.
When it became known that the youngster was to collect the prize, colleagues and deer stalking visitors in his shoot party stopped to offer the 20-year-old a deserved round of applause.
Cole, introduced to rabbit and roe deer management as a young boy, has undertaken formal gamekeeping qualifications at North Highland College UHI in Thurso.
At Black Corries Estate he combines deer, grouse, low ground and habitat management while turning his hand to seasonal fishing ghillie-ing on the estate’s trout lochs. The estate is home to conservation-listed Black Grouse, Golden Eagle and Black Throated Diver.
Cole said: “I couldn’t be in a better place; it is the variety which appeals to me. You can wake up in the morning and you might be going out to the hill with a stalking party and the next day you might be doing a walked-up grouse shoot.
“Another thing that drives me is seeing the biodiversity which arises from good management. When you walk onto the estate, you can see the wider benefits of the predator control work we do. We have greenshank, snipe and wading birds in abundance. I believe that good gamekeeping is part of the solution for our countryside in Scotland.”
Cole received supporting nominations from college lecturers, estate guests and Head Stalker, Dave Thomas.
Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg, said: “It is clear, from those who spoke so highly of him, that Cole’s willingness to work hard, learn and take responsibility makes him the type you don’t find every day.”