More than 200 riders and ten times as many foot-followers attended Saturday’s meet of the Devon and Somerset staghounds. The numbers demonstrated strong support for staghound packs in the West Country.
The Devon and Somerset, Quantock and Tiverton are resolved to continue to hunt within the law and carry out exempt hunting to the end of this season and beyond.
“Throughout the day we used two hounds to flush deer — hunt guns didn’t shoot any. It was experimental, but it was the first day,” says Tom Yandle, chairman of the Devon and Somerset.
“Within the context of what we were allowed to do, I think everybody was happy, but it’s not proper deer management; everybody knows that.
“Hunting is exempt for research; we do a lot of research so that’s something for the future.”
Both the Quantock and the Tiverton are to continue to meet until the end of April, but twice rather than three times a week. Both spent the 19th using two hounds to flush to guns, but not managing to take a shot.
“We flushed five groups of deer during the day,” says John Lucas, acting joint-master of the Tiverton. “We didn’t kill any deer because whenever they were flushed it wasn’t a safe or kill shot. The field had a wonderful time — we kept moving all the time.”
Yandle concludes: “Hunting is crucial to the local economy and we’ll do as much as we can to keep the livery yards, blacksmiths and so on busy.”