29th January 2019
Members of the Quantock Stag Hounds meet on National Trust land at Beacon Hill Car Park, Staple Plain, West Quantoxhead, Somerset on Monday 28 January 2019. The National Trust banned all deer hunting with dogs from their properties in 1997. Photo © Hounds Off
The Quantock Stag Hounds know that they’re banned from hunting on National Trust land. So imagine our surprise when yesterday, Monday 28th January 2019, they gathered at 11am with all their dogs, horseriders, motorbikes, quads, four-wheel drives and hangers-on in Beacon Hill Car Park, Staple Plain, West Quantoxhead, Somerset. Beacon Hill is owned by the National Trust!
Not only did the Quantock Stag Hounds meet on forbidden land but they held a whisky raffle as well, to raise money for hunt funds.
Shortly after 11.30am they set off over the hills to hunt female Red deer in the remote wooded valleys around Holford and then, at around 2.30pm, they were back on National Trust land between Beacon Hill and Weacombe Hill. I watched and filmed as the Huntsman and Whipper-In (the Huntsmans assistant) used two hounds to search for deer in Weacombe Combe.
At this time of year female Red deer, known as ‘hinds’, are the quarry.
Hind Hunting isn’t what is used to be. Since technically being outlawed in 2005, hunters have changed their modus operandi. These days they only use two hounds to track deer and in realty, hinds are hunted as much by humans as dogs. Everyone is linked by mobile phones and radios to co-ordinate their movements. There’s very little chasing. When deer are roused from cover they have to dodge pot-shots from strategically positioned assasins armed with short-barrelled shotguns.
It does seem crazy that in an area of outstanding natural beauty, frequented by dozens of people enjoying recreation which has nothing to do with bloodsports, the Quantock Stag Hounds can send their supporters out into the thick of it wielding live firearms.
I was part of a team of Hunt Monitors from Hounds Off and Somerset Wildlife Crime. We’ve been keeping an eye on the Quantock Stag Hounds every week since September last year. On 28.01.19 we had a foot team deployed near Holford and around midday they reported hearing gunshot. We believe that a calf was separated from its mother and wounded with a botched shot, because, after the gunshot, frantic voices were heard from deep down in a valley near a place called Lady’s Edge.
Kevin Hill is one of our most experienced Monitors. He’s been monitoring staghunting in the West Country for over 35 years. After hearing gunshot in the Lady’s Edge area Kevin reported, “A short while later a lone hind was observed that appeared to be searching for her calf. She was alert and displayed a nervous attitude, moving and stopping and looking in all directions.”
Monitoring deer hunting is really difficult. In the woods, often you can hear but not see.
We have informed the National Trust of unlicensed deer hunting with dogs on their land and are currently helping them with their enquiries.
We are all volunteers and give our time freely. If you support what we do and would like to help cover our fuel and equipment costs please consider buying us a ‘coffee’:
Learn more about the campaign to ban all live animal hunting with dogs on National Trust land, here.
© Joe Hashman
25th January 2019
A beautiful Hounds Off ‘Sleeping Fox’ stained-glass window can be hand-crafted specially for you by our wonderful, talented supporter Paul Snell. Each one measures 20.5cm square and will arrive securely packaged to your home four to six weeks after placing your order, complete with a small length of chain for hanging purposes (if you don’t live in an actual church).
Hounds Off ‘Sleeping Fox’ stained-glass windows by Paul Snell cost £70 each plus £6.50 postage & packing.
£10 from each sale to helps fund our work offering help, support and advice to farmers, landowners and rural residents affected by hunt trespass.
If you would like to own one of these bespoke creations then we would all be delighted. Our preferred methods of payment are either bank transfer or cheque, to avoid charges.
Send cheques payable to ‘Hounds Off’ for £76.50 to Hounds Off, PO Box 162, Shaftesbury, Dorset SP7 7AZ. Don’t forget to include your address.
Bank transfer £76.50 to us: Sort Code 09-01-27, Account Number 90028160. Ref: ‘Glass Fox’.
But of course we accept PayPal too. If this is how you’d like to do the money thing then please pay £80 (to cover the extra charges) into our account; firstname.lastname@example.org (ref: ‘Glass Fox’ please).
When a friend tagged us in to a Facebook post which Paul had uploaded, showing the first Sleeping Fox stained-glass window in process, we were genuinely moved by the effort and care being taken over representing our much-loved logo in this way. And it feels appropriate to give a respectful nod towards the man who brought our vision to life in the first place, Boo & Stu artist Stu Jones.
Joe Hashman, Founder; Hounds Off