Last week I went to Studley Royal to photograph the deer in the park. We arrived quite early and decided to wander down the drive to where we’d seen a large herd on the drive in. Within 5 minutes we had been approached by one of the National Trust wardens in a truck who informed us to stay on the road and main paths as they were culling!!!
Now the park is open to the public and we weren’t the only visitors as there were other photographers and dog walkers around, so for active shooting to be going on seemed dangerous to say the least. As we were photographing some Sike deer close to the road another NT vehicle paused right in front of us and the passenger aimed a rifle through the window at one of the stags ten feet from where we were taking pictures. We approached them and it was quite obvious they hadn’t seen us so they drove away.
This is Dan.
Further down the drive they stopped and Dan emerged from the van and targeted a deer on the hillside. His first two shots missed and his third wounded the deer which slumped to the ground. Dan then proceeded to fire four more shots at the animal. The first two missed before the next two finally killed the deer!! By this time I was screaming profanities at him begging him to put the animal out of its suffering. I was furious!
I think he may have heard me as about ten minutes later the NT truck pulled up alongside and Dan and his colleague began to try and explain their actions. They claimed that they’d only taken four shots to kill the deer even though we had all heard seven and I put a number of questions to him none of which they were able to answer to my satisfaction.
1) Why is the park open when they are using high powered rifles and live ammunition? The park is free to enter so closing it for a few days wouldn’t cost the National Trust anything in lost revenue?
2) Why are there no signs up to warn the public of the danger they may be in and nothing on the website to say the cull is under way?
3) As someone employed to cull deer why had it taken seven shots to kill the deer.
4) How do they know that photographers aren’t in the park under camouflage or in the wood behind the deer he was attempting to shoot.
5) What happened to the four bullets which missed the deer?
6) Why are the National Trust employing people who quite clearly can’t shoot.
I certainly let Dan know my feelings as did my friends and I don’t apologies for ripping in to him. I sort of understand why they have culls but to see them carried out in such an unprofessional and quite frankly dangerous way was seriously concerning. I have written to the National Trust and am still awaiting their response. They are not an organisation I will be spending any money with in the future.