Perthshire youngster is Scotland's young gamekeeper of the year

A Perthshire youngster with land management in the blood achieved a life goal on Friday (5th July) by being crowned Scotland’s best young gamekeeper.


Aberfeldy-raised Finnley Struthers (23), whose career path was set after lessons from his grandfather and uncle, received the 2024 award from Chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, Alex Hogg, MBE (pictured below).


The ceremony at GWCT Scottish Game Fair in the grounds of Scone Palace also represented a box ticked for Finnley, who had earmarked the Young Gamekeeper of the Year prize as a personal ambition.


The UHI North Highland gamekeeping graduate has managed for grouse, deer and salmon fishing on estates in Perthshire, Aberdeenshire and Angus to date, with Millden Estate being his current home.




His passion for moorland management has seen him win high praise from staff and peers and he fought off stiff competition for the prestigious award, which recognises inspiring young ambassadors for the professions of gamekeeping, deer management and river gillie-ing.


“I have been aware of this award for some time. I’d always said to myself it would be good to get that, some day. I think it is great that is recognises young gamekeepers because the profession can sometimes be a lone activity,” he said.


Family ties


“My grandfather was a gamekeeper in Perthshire and I spoke to him a lot about the job. My uncle took me beating on shoot days as a youngster and, after that, it was the only thing I wanted to do.


“There was a group of my friends in Aberfeldy who had the same idea. You are outdoors every day. The lifestyle is good and you are in a beautiful part of the world.”

Merlin by Mike Groves

As well as enjoying his calling as a ‘way of life’, Finnley is also aware of the privilege of working around Scotland’s iconic wildlife and sharing the moors and hills with keystone species every day.


Biodiversity monitoring occurs frequently at Millden and seeing rare birds and fauna thrive from gamekeeper management is something he appreciates in his work.


“We have really good numbers of breeding curlew, redshank, lapwing and oystercatcher and it is great to see in Springtime. We have students that come here every year to record and ring the birds and we are always noting wader chicks.


“There’s lot of other wildlife, too. We’ve got merlin (pictured above) and kestrel nests. We put up barn owl boxes in winter and we’ve got red squirrel feeders all over the estate and really good numbers of reds.


“It is good for the general public to see, too, and I enjoy seeing the benefits of the management.”


Youth milestone


Alex Hogg, SGA Chairman, was delighted to present the award to the youngster in the year that the representative body for Scotland’s professional gamekeepers also introduced its first ever Youth Committee.


“Individuals like Finnley represent the industry’s future," he said.


" Our young people are more important than ever. We are seeing such rapid change in gamekeeping, in deer management and pressures on our salmon. It’s never been more important to have capable, passionate voices who really care and want to take the industry forward in a positive way, into the decades to come.”


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