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From the Eastern Daily Press Magazine, 4-11 May, 2001:
I started helping out at Whitehouse Farm at Frostenden, and I took up shooting at 15 and keepering when I was about 19 or 20.
Being a gamekeeper is like being an estate policeman, and at Benacre I'll be looking after the whole 6500 acres.
I've worked for various people in Suffolk over the years, but I've always come back to Grove Farm in Reydon - this has been my beat.
People think gamekeepers are out with a gun under their arm killing everything in sight. That's just not so. A gamekeeper's job is to preserve and look after game for your employer. I have to protect and feed the pheasants, partridges and ducks.
Of course, I have to keep the vermin down as well - that is my job - but I'm not proud of having to kill things. I have to keep foxes and crows under control and one of our biggest problems at the moment is mink.
Four years ago, you'd see the odd one; but they've colonised now and are breeding - I caught 11 down by the river a few weeks ago. I tend to catch things in live bait traps. That way, I can let go what I want to let go,
I do a lot of night-time shooting because all these animals are nocturnal. And that's how I found the puma.
I was out night shooting rabbits near St Felix School in October 1999. It was 1.30 am and I saw these eyes. At first I thought it was a dog, as it was very light in colour and looked like a Labrador. But I could see whiskers and rounded ears, and it was plodding along in a furrow with a long thick tail that looked just like a hockey stick.
It seemed to be grinnmg and its eyes looked so big in comparison to the size of its head.
I was only eight yards away from it and I've got a good scope on my gun. I was excited and the adrenaline was going but I wasn't frightened. There's not much to scare me - only my wife!
I was thinking "should I shoot it?" but there was no reason to kill it - it was doing no harm. Instead, I want to build a big cage, catch it alive, film it and then release it again.
After I saw the puma I had 23 calls from people telling me they had also seen a big cat, and it was seen last week near St Felix school - so it's still about. But people are too embarrassed to tell anyone because they think they will get laughed at - it's like the Loch Ness monster.
I love keepering. To be out among the countryside with something different every day is very exciting. But it's very demanding and you are on call 24 hours a day in case of poachers. It's not a job; it's a way of life.
Novie Berry was talking to Simon Dunford.
© Eastern Counties Newspapers
Transcribed by Paddy Apling, 5th April, 2001.