Farmer who is glad to see the last of the hunt

Not all country people support blood sports

Thirty-One years ago Janet White was in her garden when her scarlet- coated neighbour rode up to her house, raised his hat, and held out a bloody hunk of venison. He was doing no more than hunting custom demanded, offering the heart of the deer to the owner of the land on which it had been killed.

He might as well have handed the heart of the lioness Elsa to Joy Adamson in Born Free. Although Mrs White was the epitome of politeness - she told him her family didn't like meat - she later wrote in her autobiography about the red deer "sitting under the trees in the woods, peacefully chewing the cud and watching me ... it was a privilege to have them living where we could watch their natural behaviour".

Last week, Mrs White was "quietly jubilant" about another hunting gesture, this time by the National Trust, when it announced it would ban deer hunting on its land from the end of this season after a study it commissioned revealed "unambiguous" evidence that hunting caused deer "extreme stress" and "great suffering".

The decision will affect all four English deer hunts, but none more so than the Quantock Staghounds in Somerset who hunt almost exclusively on Trust land, much of it around Mrs White's 250-acre sheep farm on the Quantock Hills.

Mrs White runs her farm with wildlife conservation in mind and has long excluded the hunt, which has not made her popular with some of her neighbours. She is determined not to sound triumphant. She is aware hunting doesn't turn a neighbour into a barbarian.

Nonetheless it's difficult for this 67-year-old farmer (or shepherd, as she prefers to be known) to conceal her relief at the Trust's decision. She now knows she will never again have to watch a deer salivating at the mouth as it tries to get away from a pack of hounds baying their way down the hill past her farmhouse.

Now the 90-year-old Quantock Staghounds concede they will probably have to fold. "The last thing I want to do is crow over their defeat," Mrs White said. "People who enjoy hunting as a sport will be extremely upset, and I can understand that. However, I'm delighted for the sake of the deer."

Mrs White's opposition to hunting is based on her conviction the sport is cruel. She knows deer numbers need to be controlled - more than 100 local deer are culled each year, compared with fewer than 40 as a result of hunting - and she is the first to point out the damage the deer do to her banks and trees.

She chose to keep hunting off her land, but not everyone respected this. "There have been incidents over the years that have made me very angry," she said. She recalled seeing a stag killed on her land and receiving an apology from the Master. As part of the apology, she was given its antlers mounted on a board with an inscription saying where it was killed. She smiles as she looks at it - already a relic, she hopes, of a bygone age.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test