Stag hunters take to the fields as a new season of cruelty commences

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Red deer stags in velvet

Back in April this year the Investigation Team along with North Dorset Hunt Sabs witnessed and filmed red deer ‘spring stags’ being hunted to exhaustion and shot by the Quantock Stag Hounds.

The same week, which was one of the hottest ever in April, we also filmed stags, hinds and calves running for their lives with their tongues hanging out and drooling with saliva, as they were relentlessly pursued by the Devon and Somerset Staghounds. This is an all too familiar and sad sight for our investigators who monitor these hunts regularly.

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Spring stag hunted and shot by the Quantock Staghounds 25 April 2022

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Spring stag’ being hunted by the Devon and Somerset Staghounds 26 April 2022

The footage from those two days were used in a damning article and film in The Times. 

The end of the stag hunting season couldn’t come soon enough, and the calm of the summer began, which brought the magic of new life to the countryside.

At the end of June, I was really lucky to get up close to some newborn red deer calves on Baronsdown and film them. Whilst their mums were out for the day feeding in the field, the calves were lying up in the shade underneath the trees and hedgerows. In just a few days with some good milk inside them they were up on their shaky legs and joining the herd.

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Red deer calf June 2022’

I found this experience both magical and tinged with sadness, as I am all too aware that there is a small amount of people who get great pleasure out of hunting these same deer with hounds, watching as a magnificent creature is degraded as its body shuts down through exhaustion. They then celebrate when it finally collapses and is shot. Casualties of particularly spectacular hunts then have their skull and antlers mounted on a plaque and handed out to lucky riders at the puppy shows.

The calm of the summer season was shattered at the beginning of August as the stag hunting season started. We travelled to Exmoor and attended the first meet of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds and despite the heat, they spent four hours trying to rouse a mature stag and hunt it (generally under the guise of the ‘Science and Observation’ exemption to the Hunting Act). The roads were lined with budding ‘scientists’ all desperate to see a mature stag hunted to exhaustion and then shot. Despite the havoc they caused in the local area from 06:00 in the morning, we hope and believe they didn’t find a stag, but it was not for want of trying. 

This is the same hunt that we filmed in October 2020 whipping a stag.

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Devon and Somerset Staghounds first meet of the season 11 August 2022

From now until the end of April next year, the three registered stag hunts in the South West of England will be out several days a week hunting these beautiful Red deer with hounds. Tourists are drawn to Devon and Somerset to see these iconic wild deer in their natural environment, mostly unaware of the terror and humiliation they are subjected to by these so-called ‘guardians of the countryside’. 

Sadly, having personally monitored stag hunting for the League since the 1990s, before the Hunting Act, I can see absolutely no difference between then and now except for the number of hounds they use.

However, the League are committed to strengthening the Hunting Act 2004 by removing the exemptions under which stag hunts operate. Money that is donated to the League by our kind supporters, is directly used by our professional investigators to expose the reality of stag hunting, and without that we wouldn’t be able to.

Together we can stop this, Enough is enough.

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