Why do we Hunt?

Whilst sat in splendid isolation during the coronavirus UK lock down it has given me time to reflect on exactly why we hunt in the first place. In fact I have covered this very subject in my as yet to be released second book “Fallow Deer” History stalking and management. Here is an exclusive snippet taken from my new book...

Modern life is so hectic that we as a species have lost touch with our hunting roots. We have forgotten who we are and where we came from to put it simply. We are not programmed to sit in an office staring at a computer screen ten hours a day as we are hunter gatherers. Yes life today is far removed from our early ancestors in many ways but perhaps not as much as you may think. We need to reconnect with the past and embrace what we are, what we are genetically programmed to be – hunters.

Hunting for me is about getting back to nature being at one with the sights and smells of the countryside to me an animal is just a bonus. Then there’s the social aspect that shooting brings almost tribal something that connects us all irrelevant of age sex race and social status. I think many people believe that deer stalking is a lonely occupation and yes it can be at times. I personally like to have some solitary me time it clears the mind and refocuses the senses however stalking can also be enjoyed with friends and clients alike.

Imagine thousands of years ago the tribe sitting around the fire planning the following days hunting, the excitement building then come the big day the hunt begins in earnest. Then the main objective was to put meat on the table for the tribe to use the skin for clothing bones and antlers used to fashion tools nothing was wasted. Today hunting means little more to some than an excuse to kill a deer for nothing more than to cross it off the UK six list.


Prym1 Image: Cervus Creative

We have lost touch with what hunting is all about and it’s very sad. Today a client pays their money, is driven to an estate, walks behind a guide is handed the rifle to take the shot, photo taken, deer loaded in to truck then goes home totally detached from the whole experience…

That’s not hunting! We need to go back to basics. Learn to appreciate every aspect of the hunt from the preparation of the kit the day before to the processing of the animal and get away from being focused on the size of the animal being the driving force behind stalking as it isn’t. We need to re-educate the next generation of stalkers to appreciate the little things get back to basics and enjoy the whole process from start to finish!

Nothing to me compares to the sheer joy of stalking then taking home and processing the carcass to share with friends and family. Reconnecting with our ancient hunting instincts and traditions is something modern life seems to have forgotten. I believe the future of our sport and way of life hangs in the balance if we continue to focus on deer stalking being nothing more than a trophy to be taken by those that can afford the often inflated prices.

The media and non-shooting community see the same old thing over and over again in the press and that’s the subject of trophy hunting. Trophy hunting has its place in Africa where it helps fund conservation projects that’s a no brainer. I’ve already covered this subject in my debut book “The Devil Deer” However in the UK trophy hunting means nothing other than a cash generator for stalking agents, guides and landowners a by-product if you will of having large numbers of deer. Our main focus should be solely on ethical sustainable management of deer i.e. cull sheets before trophies and in most cases this is being carried out as a matter of routine as it rightly should be. That’s the difference between ethical deer management and hunting outfitters, many of these outfitters are not even UK based but their impact often seen in the press reflects badly on UK based hunters and the industry in general.

Deer Stalking on Lowther estates. Cumbria. Photos by Steve Thornton

This obsession with trophies will be shootings downfall you can be assured of that. The powers that be and ill-informed social media warriors are gaining support and there is already talk of a total ban on all UK trophies being exported out of the country and with support is growing daily for a total hunting ban it’s only a matter of time mark my words.

I have turned my back on medals these days as I now fully understand what hunting really is all about. I’m very fortunate to know and be fully vested in www.deerstalkinghub.co.uk the brain child of James Mott who has launched this site to do exactly what I’ve been speaking about re-education and getting back to hunting in its purest form it’s a breath of fresh air and I strongly urge you to check out the site & forum to learn more from James as I believe James ethos is going to revolutionise stalking for the better.

We are as a species hunters but we don’t hunt in the true sense of the word nowadays we just kill with virtually no thought process behind why we do it therefore we have no true appreciation for what we do and why we do it. This is crazy and needs to stop. Today more people are driven by brand names than actually learning the true craft and art of deer stalking this is a sad reflection on the sport and this doesn’t represent me or what I believe in 100%.

We need to visit the past in order to ensure our future…