It is always an encouraging and awe-inspiring sight when someone manages to find and photograph a rare white stag, as Ian Crisp managed to do last week. Following a tip off from his friend, Mr Crisp managed to find this majestic creature happily roaming around in the West Country. But, he is quite rightly keen to keep the exact location under his hat for fear that he will be targeted by hunters like his predecessors.
The last sighting near to this location was in 2007 when a calf was spotted weeks after the killing of a white stag nearb which caused uproar among the local farming community. Could this be that calf?
Prior to this the last white stag that roamed the nearby Quantocks, known locally as Snowy, was sadly hunted down and killed in 1993.
'White' red deer have a rare genetic condition called leucism which causes their skin and fur to lack the pigmentation that red or brown deer have.
The white stag, or ‘white hart’ as they are often called, has captivated the minds and hearts of man for centuries, playing a prominent role in many a myth and legend throughout Europe, Scandanavia and even parts of Asia.
The Celts believed the sighting of a white stag would signify a message from another world, usually by means of a warning. Arthurian legend has it that the white stag has supernatural powers and will always evade capture, but symbolises the quest for spiritual adventure. The search for the Holy Grail followed the sighting of a white stag.
Similarly to this, the scout movement uses the white stag to symbolise the search and chase for new and fresh adventures, leaping over any difficulties with ease. The Hungarian branch of the scouting movement still uses the white stag as its symbol.
The white stag in Hungarian legend was believed to have led brothers Hunor and Magar to Scythia which preceded the formation of the Hun and Magyar people. Christianity adopted the white stag as being the subject of visions and prophecies often symbolising Christ himself.
I could go on but you get the overall picture here. There is no doubt that these rare and beautiful creatures have long since been regarded as sacred, but this stag will need need the respect and protection it deserves.
For now, we know that this white stag is safe and healthy, but it is up to us to be his ears and eyes too.
Mr Crisp is concerned that a few other locals may know of his whereabouts which could jeopardise his safety.
If you have any information that could lead us to any illegal hunting in the Devonshire then please call our Hunt Crime Watch line on 01483 524 250.