I was born and raised in a small village in the Mendip Hills in Somerset. Somerset has a long history of hunting and shooting activity; it is home to three packs of Staghounds and a number of foxhunts operate there. Many of the locals are subservient to the Hunt hierarchy, but I am one of the few exceptions.

The first time I heard about the League Against Cruel Sports was back in 1965. I was driving through Exmoor on the road from Wheddon Cross to Dulverton, when I came across a small gated lodge and an entrance to a large country estate. Behind the fence was a sign stating, “League Against Cruel Sports, Private Property, Hunting Forbidden”. A few weeks later I signed up for a League membership and have been supporting the charity’s work ever since.

The country estate was once the League’s West Country Head Quarters and made up part of their flagship wildlife sanctuary known today as Baronsdown Wildlife Sanctuary. Little did I know back then that years later I would have the opportunity to visit Baronsdown as well as many of the League’s other sanctuaries such as St Johns Wood, Ashill and Cowley Woods to name but a few.

League Sanctuaries - St John

In the 1990’s I went to the League Open Day at their Alfoxton Sanctuary based in the Quantocks Hills, which was also attended by a television film crew who were making a documentary on the League’s fight against Deer Hunting. I also enjoyed getting involved in the many camping weekends, where myself and other volunteers would carry out general jobs to help conserve and protect the League’s various wildlife sanctuaries.

League Sanctuaries - Cowley Wood

In recent years I’ve had the pleasure of revisiting Baronsdown and a few weeks ago I attended their annual Autumn Rutting Event. I was given a tour of the sanctuary grounds in the League’s Landrover and I had the wonderful opportunity to see the Wild Red Deer. I don’t think there is anywhere else in Exmoor where you can observe wild Red Deer in their natural environment as closely as we did, and it is a very special sight to see.

Baronsdown Autumn Rutting weekend

Lastly, I’d like to mention the dedicated sanctuary staff at the League for the work they do and for helping to make this a very special place - Visiting Baronsdown has become a high point in my calendar and the Autumn Rutting Event is an event not to be missed!

Robert Powell – a dedicated supporter of the League for over 50 years

If you are interested in attending any of our supporter events or you would like to volunteer for the League Against Cruel Sports, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our friendly Supporter Care Team at [email protected]