The role of Highland sporting estates in contemporary society is contested over issues as diverse as local economic development, deer management, illegal persecution of raptors and restrictions on public access to the hills. Drawing upon findings from a questionnaire survey and detailed in depth interviews this paper attempts to present a contemporary overview of the management and role of sporting estates as perceived by the owners themselves. For most the purchase of a sporting estate is a lifestyle choice and management centres on the non-financial benefits that flow from ownership and unfettered commercialism is widely regarded as undesirable. Owners are sympathetic to nature conservation but some 'conservation activities' would appear to have only tenuous links with mainstream interests of conservation organisations. Attitudes to public access are shaped by their potential to conflict with sporting activities and personal privacy but owners were largely tolerant of most activities except mountain biking, camping and canoeing. The uniformity of views and practices about estate management among owners was striking, with most rigidly adhering to traditional aims, practices and values: innovations were largely frowned upon and there appeared to be little enthusiasm for change of any kind.