Sunday Times - The buck stops here
- Sunday, 28 January 2024
Sunday Times Journalist Rosie Kinchen goes deer stalking with professional deer stalker Peter S Jones.
Above: Journalist Rosie Kinchen of 'The Sunday Times' lines up a shot.
Eating venison has become a mainstream topic of conversation lately, with a plethora of articles appearing in the press. A few months ago, in the build up to Christmas, I was contacted by journalist Rosie Kinchen of the Sunday Times, about an article that she planned to write about deer stalking, the UK’s burgeoning deer population and how we are all being encouraged to eat more venison.
Regrettably, unlike in other parts of Europe, the United States and elsewhere, where hunting is a widely accepted part of rural life, the British press have long pursued somewhat of a negative narrative, toward hunting. Which to my mind is a great tragedy and perhaps one of many underlying reasons why venison has not been widely adopted by UK consumers. I believe that it is also one of a number of reasons why, in the UK, we now have a deer population that is higher than at any other time in the last 1000 years, a population that DEFRA recognise, are now causing a serious negative impact on the countryside.
Understandably cautious about Rosie’s motives behind the article, I was reassured when Rosie explained over the telephone that she intended to personally participate and shoot the deer herself. Reassured by this intention to play an active part in the process of harvesting an animal, I was keen to facilitate the article and equally keen that if Rosie was going to take the life of a deer, that she be able to do so humanely, and that the deer should be consumed. I was also hopeful that Rosie would take the piece seriously and relay the facts to her readership and the reasons why it is so important that we all start eating more venison.
Taking any animals life, should not be done lightly, without thought or proper consideration and as anyone that has been deer stalking will appreciate, stalking deer is not about shooting deer, it is a considered, serious pursuit that requires patience and a deep understanding of the countryside.
During two days, one which consisted predominantly of imparting some training, followed by a short stalk and the other entirely stalking, I tried to impart that appreciation on Roise, who whilst quite determined that she should shoot a deer for the purposes of her proposed feature, appeared somewhat distracted and blasé about what she intended to do.
On the whole, I have found that once individuals have taken the decision to try deer stalking, most guests are engaged and serious about the pursuit, yet Rosie frequently used periods of quite, not to immerse herself and observe the countryside around her, but in: “trying not to laugh” and taking out her mobile phone, and in her own words: “….surreptitiously make a start on my supermarket shopping”.
I have to say, I found this attitude from such a senior journalist to be a little disappointing.
Choosing to shoot a wild deer is not in my opinion something that should be taken so lightly. Taking the life of any animal should be a considered action. It is something that I try every day to instil in my children. That the decision to eat meat should not be ill considered, it is something that has repercussions for both the animal and the environment.
OK, so no harm done, it’s a bit light-hearted. But what I found a little upsetting was that immediately upon having shot the deer, Rosie retreated to the car, and returned to the emotional comfort of her mobile phone, as though the deer lying lifeless on the ground was something of a byproduct of her journalism.
Indeed, were it not for my determination that she should eat what she had just shot, and my determination to have it packaged up and sent to her, the deer’s death would have been for nothing. I only hope that contrary to Rosie’s comments in her article, that she does indeed get around to eating the cuts that her husband so enjoyed, and which currently remain left in her freezer. I also hope that she does not allow the life of the Roe deer to have gone to waste.
It is my own view, that if you are going to kill any animal, you should be utterly determined to eat it.
Overall, whilst the article does get across many of the salient facts surrounding deer stalking and the need to eat venison, it is in my opinion, somewhat of a missed opportunity. In parts it is factual, yet regrettably in others, it is a typically emotive piece that online uses phrases like “I shot Bambi”...Yawn! But ‘hey’ when it comes to hunting, that’s the British press for you!
If you are interested in learning how to hunt deer and source your own wild, sustainable food from the countryside, you may be interested in taking a course. We recommend the LANTRA Approved ‘Proficient Deer Stalking Certificate Level 1’ (PDS1). You can learn more about the course and enrol here via the ‘Shooting & Hunting Academy’: deer-stalking-course
To read 'The Sunday Times' article online follow this link: thetimes.co.uk/article/i-shot-bambi
For a serious take on deer stalking, you may like to watch a film in which Peter Jones makes plain his thoughts on hunting and the future of deer stalking. Click here for more: youtube.com/watch