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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Voices
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeal to the audience during the Question Time special
voices
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
News
Michelle Dockery plays Lady Mary in Downton Abbey
peopleBut who comes top of the wish list?
News
Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, right, with Lib Dem candidate Jane Dodds in Newtown, Powys, as part of her tour in support of the party’s female candidates
general electionNick Clegg's wife has impressed during the campaign
  • Get to the point
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: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living