The utter barbarity of stag hunting has been laid bare in heart-breaking drone footage captured by Mendip Hunt Saboteurs.
This is believed to be the first time a drone – supplemented by handheld camera footage – has caught an entire hunt on camera. Thanks to the presence of hunt saboteurs, the stag survived his ordeal.
Mendip sabs report, “Sabs recorded the prolonged chase of a healthy stag by the Devon & Somerset Stag Hounds on Tuesday 25th April, using both our drone and handheld cameras on the ground.
This action was part of the campaign against stag hunting that saw our sab group join with others to hit the three remaining stag hunts for the first season in many years. The meet of the DSSH followed a series of hunts in which we witnessed numerous kills, including the shocking incident where a stag was hunted to exhaustion then shot and killed in front of a Devon County sab who was in the line of fire.
The shocking drone footage was captured after the DSSH met at Hunniwins Farm near North Molton, Exmoor. It was a hot, sunny day that drew a large field and copious vehicle support clogging up the narrow lanes. From the meet, the hunt headed to the moors and covered a lot of ground very quickly as they searched for their stag over Barcombe Down, North Molton Ridge and Twitchen Ridge, then returned to Soakey Moor where we had seen them the previous Saturday.
The hunted stag was spotted at about 2pm by Sab Team 1 (Three Counties) who were positioned on the lane by the northeast corner of Anstey Money Common. Another stag had already been witnessed fleeing from the hunt across the lane but was not pursued. The hunted stag was seen shortly after, running back and forth next to the road. He was turned away by hunt support on the road and ran southwards back up the small combe towards the huntsman and hounds.
This is where the chase was first picked up by the drone. The stag had joined a herd of about five deer that were running through gorse with hounds close behind. Hunt support and followers were spread out over the common and on the nearby bridleway looking down into the combe. Had this been legal hunting using the “flushing to guns” exemption, there would have been ample opportunity for gunmen to quickly shoot the stag once he had broken cover. However, this did not happen, and once the stag ran from the gorse he was subjected to a prolonged ordeal being chased over open ground for many miles.
When the stag was separated from the herd, the hounds first pursued the main herd instead of their intended quarry. As they were brought back onto his scent, a red-coated hunt rider chased the stag further south across the common until he crossed a hedge into open farmland. The desperate stag then continued running into Venford Moor and further east into East Anstey Common as the hunt raced to catch up. The stag came into view of Sab Team 2 (Mendip, 3Cs & CIHW) and shortly after, the hunt were seen following his line over Venford Moor.
Vehicle supporters followed on the road and made an almighty noise as the hunted stag tried to cross near Five Cross Ways, beeping their horns and shouting to scare him back as the pursuing hounds struggled to pass through a hedge. This caused him to double back into East Anstey Common, where hunt and hounds continued to chase him. Still, no attempt was made to shoot the stag which should have been done at the earliest opportunity had the hunt been legally flushing to guns.
As the stag approached the road further to the west, hunt support again made huge amounts of noise to try to turn him. However, this time they were unsuccessful and he managed to cross northwards into the Barle Valley as witnessed by Sab Team 2. Hounds followed in cry on his line as he fled towards the river. The location he was running towards was where a stag was shot in front of a Devon County sab a few days before. With the resulting fallout from that incident and sabs close by and watching, the hunt decided to leave the valley and the hunted stag escaped. The presence of sabs and their cameras therefore undoubtedly saved his life.
We continued to monitor the hunt as they searched the moors for another stag to chase, and although we saW them chasing a hind and worrying a flock of sheep with lambs, we are fairly confident that they did not kill later in the day. This was an extremely satisfying result for us given the amount of killing we had witnessed in the previous days and weeks.
We are enormously grateful for all the support we have received during our campaign against the stag hunts, from our followers, the HSA, and other sab groups, many of whom travelled for hours to Devon or Somerset – the only two counties where this disgusting “sport” still persists.
Although stag hunting has now paused for the summer, the momentum is building and we will be ready to hit them again in the autumn”
Please consider helping us out as we switch our focus to other forms of hunting over the summer. You can donate to our fuel and equipment fund at www.PayPal.me/MendipHuntSabs or buy us a virtual coffee at www.ko-fi.com/MendipHuntSabs. Thank you.