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3rd March 2019

Staghunting: And So It Continues…..

Stag at bay on a compost heap in a private garden adjacent to National Trust property on the Quantock Hills, March 2017. Photo © Hounds Off, with permission only

March 1st is when Spring Staghunting starts on the Quantock Hills and Exmoor. ‘Spring’ stags are the young adults, the stags with most energy and va-va-voom. These are a staghunters favourite quarry because they run hard, fast and long. For those who delight in chasing then killing fit and healthy Red deer then March and April are the most exciting months of the year.

Two years ago Teresa, a Quantock Hills resident, contacted Hounds Off and told us her story.

Teresa was in her kitchen. It was just after lunchtime. She could hear the Quantock Stag Hounds hunting really close and then saw out the window a hound by her garden pond. She grabbed her iPad to and went outside to take some film. The noise was suddenly deafening. There was a stag in her garden, up by the summerhouse. Other hounds were in the garden too and the stag moved towards the compost heap.

Hunting dogs from the Quantock Stag Hounds by Teresa’s garden pond. © Hounds Off, with permission

The hunted stag by the summerhouse © Hounds Off, with permission

A huntsman was just beyond the garden fence. He asked Teresa for permission to shoot the stag and she said, “No”. She asked the man his name and what he was doing. He said that she didn’t need to know. More hounds came in to the garden. Teresa reckoned there were about seven but they were hard to count because of so much movement.

Teresa refused to let the Quantock Stag Hounds Huntsman shoot the stag in her garden. © Hounds Off, with permission

By now the stag had climbed on top of the compost heap. There were riders looking down from the hill up above and conversations could be heard between unseen hunters on walkie-talkies. Numerous vehicles were parked on her private entrance drive with people standing and watching.

The hunted stag on the compost heap, using the height for protection. © Hounds Off, with permission

Suddenly there were four burly men at close quarters. The man who wanted to shoot the stag warned Teresa not to interfere in case the dogs attacked her. She was frightened because, as she told us afterwards, “I was outnumbered and could see that their blood was up.”

The dogs had chased the stag off the compost heap but he returned and was again at bay.

Stag at bay on a compost heap in a private garden adjacent to National Trust property on the Quantock Hills, March 2017. Photo © Hounds Off, with permission only

Teresa said, “The stag was surrounded by hounds and huntsmen and was clearly exhausted and petrified. I felt I needed to protect it. I felt strongly that it was not just right that I protect it, but it was my right to protect it.  Not just because I don’t agree with hunting with dogs, but because it was in my garden and I should have been able to save it. My garden was its sanctuary.”

Again, she told the hunters to call their hounds off. One young, thick-set individual threatened to call the police because he said she was “harbouring a deer.” He also threatened to call the RSPCA, shouting that the stag was injured and had to be killed. But they did manhandle their dogs over the fence and remove themselves as well.

Another man who Teresa didn’t know or recognise appeared. He also refused to identify himself and joined the other hunters. They huddled together and then, right in front of Teresa, stormed into her garden, ran towards the stag and physically pushed it off the compost heap, over the fence and away towards private farmland. The men and their dogs, the riders and the people in cars all followed in different directions as fast as they could.

Quantock Stag Hounds men and dogs trespassed with menace to get the hunted stag running again. © Hounds Off, with permission

Teresa was totally shocked and shaken. She immediately called the police to report the incident.

A couple of hours later two huntspeople called at the house. Only one of them would give his name. He said that they were “trailhunting” with eleven hounds when unfortunately this young, injured stag jumped up in front and caused a distraction. They decided to kill it because, apparently, it was injured. Their excuses were not believed and apologies not accepted.

“A day later the Huntsman left a message to tell me the stag had been previously shot by a .22 rifle. I learnt later from the police it was in the chest,” Teresa recalled, “But this exposed them as liars. I was stood ten feet away from the stag for some time. There was no injury to the chest, old or new, but it was exhausted. I didn’t realize it then, but subsequently I found out that they have used this excuse before to exploit a loophole in the Hunting Act. I thought at the time that it was a really odd thing to say that they would call the police because ‘I was harbouring a sick deer’, but I later realized that they worked out which angle they were going to use to get out of this, hence why they didn’t care about me filming.”

Avon & Somerset Constabulary completely failed to take Teresa’s allegation of illegal hunting seriously and it appears that there was a deliberate block put on conducting even a cursory investigation. The Quantock Stag Hounds got away with it. But we helped call the police failures to account. Crucially, over a year later their own Professional Standards Department upheld six out of nine points of complaint.

First of a seven page letter upholding six out of nine points of complaint made by Teresa. © Hounds Off

Teresa said, “When I reflect back with the knowledge I have gained over the last two years, I know that the Hunting Act has to change. Any reasonable person looking at the facts knows exactly what these hunts are up to. But the legal system is choosing to ignore the test of the reasonable person. As it stands today it is almost impossible to prove illegal hunting and get a conviction.”

Her immediate neighbours are the National Trust and she feels let down by them, too. Despite receiving all the evidence and her witness statement, and despite the fact that they themselves banned deer hunting with dogs on their land in 1997, the Quantock Stag Hounds frequently hunt across forbidden land. As recently as January 28th this year they held a fundraising meet and then hunted on National Trust land. Clearly this is unacceptable and we are in dialogue with the Trust to work out how to prevent future arrogant flouting.

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

Rural residents have turned to us in desperation and we answered their call. Our tactics are simple; in partnership with Somerset Wildlife Crime and individuals, groups and organisations who want to work with us, we’re shining a light on modern day staghunting. Please see the following links for more details:

Please consider making a donation to our campaign. We couldn’t do what we do without you.

© Joe Hashman. Founder; Hounds Off

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23 Comments | Leave a comment

  • LEE DAVIES says:
    Posted March 03, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    This is absolutely outrageous, it took place on private land, bullied the householder and trespassed on her land and threw the stag off her land. There is no excuse for allowing this to go on. Do householders have to get gun licenses and shoot a few hunters to protect themselves and their property????? Something has to be done soon about this it is totally out of order and to be honest I am LIVID! I feel very strongly about this issue and wait to see if anything can be done.

    Reply to this comment >
    • Marion Shepperd says:
      Posted April 14, 2019 at 8:45 am

      Lee Davies. I apsolutely support every word you say. Thank you for your kindness to this lady and concerns for the poor stag.

      Reply to this comment >
  • Mary Frankland says:
    Posted March 03, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    Ban this horrific sport

    Reply to this comment >
    Posted March 03, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    iam appalled by this story and disgusted with the people whos lust to kill Britains struggling wildlife continue to flaunt the law

    Reply to this comment >
  • Kate Bradley says:
    Posted March 03, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    yep dont ever trust them, they are all menacing characters. this makes my blood boil.

    Reply to this comment >
  • judith griffin says:
    Posted March 03, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    this makes terrible reading, they were intent on making a killing, how sick in the head are these people. I would not like or want to be in their world to hunt with intent to kill, nothing but murderers, so sad to see such a beautiful animal to be shot for no reason only to satisfy the cruel and twisted minds of the savages

    Reply to this comment >
  • Joanne Butcher says:
    Posted March 04, 2019 at 12:56 am

    Absolutely disgusted by the invasion of a private lady’s garden by the Quantock hounds and members of hunt after a deer – which they are not supposed to be allowed to be hunting. BULLYING and LYING to the homeowner – who the Fu-k do they think they are. Also disgusted by Lack of Action by Police – it is a law which has been broken and Trespass. I am sick of them getting away with law breaking. NEEDS TO CHANGE.

    Reply to this comment >
  • Suzy MARSHALL Bannon says:
    Posted March 04, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    It is no wonder there is so much cruelty in the world allowing this to happen in this day and age.

    Ban it is animal cruelty.

    Reply to this comment >
  • Bonita Milnes says:
    Posted March 04, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    Hunting of anykind is abhorrent and supposed to be against the law, but then we know who makes the law, the rich. So called drag hunting is just a cover we all know that and it’s time the law was enforced as of now. Leave the poor animals to live in peace you morons.

    Reply to this comment >
  • January Parker says:
    Posted March 04, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    these hunters are evil

    Reply to this comment >
  • Inger Ardern says:
    Posted March 04, 2019 at 5:43 pm


    Reply to this comment >
  • Amandajane Hellier says:
    Posted March 04, 2019 at 11:15 pm

    Disgraceful but they know they are but seems unaccountably disgraceful. This is a ladies land not the Hunters and does not matter even though she quite rightly put in a complaint. These Hunting People are dangerous liabilities but no one who has any clout Police or otherwise think so

    Reply to this comment >
  • Lisa gye says:
    Posted March 05, 2019 at 10:23 am


    Reply to this comment >
  • L.E. Murphy says:
    Posted March 05, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    I am appauled and disgusted by this report. My blood boils when I hear of the pure arrogance of these barbaric hunters and the fact they will, like it or not, get onto private property even when permission has been rightly denied.
    Can private landowners not prosecute for trespass? Although it wouldn’t surprise me if the judge wasn’t part of the hunt.
    This despicable ‘bloodlust sport’ has to be completely banned, it is ridiculously out of date, sadisticly cruel. No animal should have to suffer in this horrendous way. These ‘people’ have no heart, sole, empathy, understanding or care about the fear and pain they are inflicting on a scared exhausted creature. They should be the bait, see if they think it’s fun then. They should be ashamed of themselves!! Unforgivable!

    Reply to this comment >
  • Chris Newstead says:
    Posted March 06, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    Utterly disgusting

    Reply to this comment >
  • Linds says:
    Posted March 07, 2019 at 11:52 am

    People who condone this should be chased and caught and *********

    Reply to this comment >
  • Debbie Ross says:
    Posted April 13, 2019 at 9:20 pm

    The National Trust should hang their heads in shame.
    I will not be rejoining until the National Trust enforce a total ban on hunting!

    Reply to this comment >
  • Gill Walters says:
    Posted April 13, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    Why isn’t the ban against all deer hunting with dogs made in 1997 implemented?

    Reply to this comment >
    • HoundsOff says:
      Posted April 15, 2019 at 2:28 pm

      That’s a very fair question, and one for the National Trust (and others) to answer. We are shining a light on the scandal that is modern day stag hunting and campaigning for proper enforcement of the Hunting Act on the Quantocks and elsewhere.

      Reply to this comment >
      • James Burgess says:
        Posted May 06, 2019 at 12:34 pm

        I spoke to a member of the Quantock staghounds last autumn.They were hunting as i walked my dog up near triscombe stone.
        She was very suspicious as i began talking to her,but i was keen to hear their side of things.
        She told me they were allowed to chase and shoot deer provided there were only a limited amount of dogs chasing,and claimed it was the best way of culling elderly,sick,and injured deer.
        Im not so sure.

        Reply to this comment >
  • Stephen Kourik says:
    Posted April 15, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    It is a disgrace that the National Trust are complicit in allowing illegal hunting to take place on their property.

    Reply to this comment >
  • Anelle Minnaar says:
    Posted May 06, 2019 at 5:44 pm


    To Teresa, Exmoor, many thanks, for STANDING your ground, and try to safe a deer [stag] from being killed!!! You’re a modern day hero!!!

    Reply to this comment >

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