Hunting the Mythological White Hart
- Sunday, 01 March 2020
The White Hart is a creature of legend, we set out in search of one of these mythological creatures.
White deer hold an established place in UK mythology, the Celtic people considered them to be a messengers from the 'Otherworld' and Arthurian legend claimed that the beast represented mankind's spiritual quest and signalled that it was time for Arthurs Knights to pursue a quest.
The term ‘Hart’ of course comes from the archaic term for deer and the name white hart has over the years also been associated with the ghostly figure of ‘Herne the Hunter’ as well as being adopted as the emblem of the Plantagenet king of England Richard II.
Today the White Hart has been used in the naming of countless pub’s and hotels across the UK, I myself grew up in Hartfield, East Sussex, near the medieval hunting forest - Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, an area which was ceated soon after the Norman conquest. So I felt no small sense of nostalgia when I returned to this beautiful area of England to hunt one of these legendary beats.
Now before we get inundated with concerns that we are shooting a rare and unusual beast, rest assured that whilst these animals feature in popular UK mythology they are not rare, they in fact represent just one of four varieties of colour that naturally occur in Fallow and as such, there are literally thousands of them.
Indeed with no natural predation deer in this area have become a serious problem, the nearby Ashdown Forest is recorded as the highest vehicle collision hot spots in the UK with hundreds of deer vehicle collisions in the area alone and around 70,000 deer related collisions across the UK each year, including as many as 20 human fatalities. The damage done by what is now considered to be the highest deer population in the UK for over 1000 years is also causing a huge environmental headache.
It has been estimated that deer can be attributable to a 50% decline in woodland bird numbers including nightingales, willow warblers, and blackcaps. Defra and the Forestry Commission estimate that deer cause over 8 million pounds of damage each year to forestry and crops and are widely recognised as a serious threat to biodiversity.
Carried out selectively and sympathetically the shooting of deer in the UK is therefore an environmental must and the Capreolus Club and County Deer Stalking are proud to be committed to both the environment and the betterment of the species via their careful selection.
Of course, for many it is beyond question that the job needs doing, it is the; why would someone want to shoot a deer? That is the sticking point. Well it is clear, that since the early cave paintings scrawled on cave walls by our ancestors thousands of years ago, that mankind has held a fascination and desire to hunt. It is an irrefutable basic human instinct and to fail to acknowledge this fundamental human desire, is to deny a part of the psyche of over one million hunting participants across the UK each year who engage with their natural environment, contribute an estimated £1.6 billion to the UK economy and support over 70,000 full time jobs.
On this in particular occasion, we were hunting a particular White Fallow Buck which, as it had advanced in years, had developed a rather unusual set of antlers and was becoming problematic to the culling of other animals in the herd, and the person that was to get the honour of carrying out the task was to be Capreolus Club member Alfonso.
This part of the country with its green and gentle rolling hills was a beautiful setting and after a long stalk in, finally we were able to get into a shootable position.
Other Fallow presented, but this was about selection and on this occasion it was a specific white buck that had to go. Getting a clear shot into the woodland was no easy task however, eventually Alfonso was able to line up the cross hairs of his Swarovski Z8i Scope and find his mark. The .308 round from the Bergara rifle did the job well in humanely and quickly dispatching this iconic White fallow Buck and brought our own quest to a close.
To watch this exciting film now, simply follow this link: youtube.com/watch
The Capreolus Club and County Deer Stalking are proud to be involved in the deer management of this area of the UK and are able to offer both guided stalking and unaccompanied stalking over thousands of acres of beautiful country. If you’d like to get involved, then contact us for more details on: 0203 981 0159 / 0208 239 7311 or by emailing info@countydeerstalking
Or to find out more about how you can Go deer stalking then simply follow this link: go-stalking