5 minutes with David Taylor

Scottish Sporting Gazette

After half a century working as a keeper, on both pheasants and grouse, David is enjoying a busy retirement , on the moor.

How did you get into shooting?

I got into shooting through my father. He was a gamekeeper all his life on various estates across Scotland and a keen shooter, especially of rabbits and pigeons.

I started keepering in 1962 on Dallas estate with the very well-known headkeeper, Angus MacKinnon. I learned a lot from him over the three years I was there.

I keepered on another two estates after that, before moving to Lochindorb and Logie in 1969, where I have been ever since.

What kept you in the role for so long?

It was the interest in wildlife and the countryside that I enjoyed, being involved with it from the first day till the last. As a keeper, you never cease to learn new things. Every day you see something different.

Always grouse?

I worked as a pheasant keeper on the estate from 1969 - 1991. I was always involved in the grouse side of shooting, but it wasn't until '91 that I went full-time on the moor. And then I was on the grouse until I retired and I loved every minute of it - and still do.

Your most memorable and proud moments?

Looking back, I suppose the most memorable moment was getting Lochindorb back up and running as a grouse moor after years of no birds through tick. It was a serious problem for a few years, and getting stocks back to a healthy level for shooting in 1996 was a lot of work. The then Game Conservancy helped us a lot as well.

The moor has been running well ever since. A few years later we were joint winners of the Purdey Awards, which was a fantastic achievement for the estate. And it's great to see it still being excellently managed today.

Have you noticed many changes to grouse shooting?

Aye, a lot. Legislation has changed it dramatically. There are so many things you can't do now and the job of the keeper has become much harder.

Controlling ground vermin is tough but achievable. However, there are all sorts of winged predators making the management extremely hard.

What aspects of keepering do you miss most?

I'm still very much involved with all the things that I used to do, so, luckily, I don't miss anything yet. I still have all my dogs, and this past season I was on the moor every single day from August 12 - and it was great.

What do you do now in retirement?

I officially retired in 2012, but I'm still very much involved with Lochindorb Estate. I take a back seat obviously, but I'm still as interested in the moor and grouse today as I was when I started.

I'm looking after a few pheasants for the leased shoot on the estate and I'm involved with the roe buck stalking as well. So I'm retired, but I'm still very busy.

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