TWO huntsmen appealing against a guilty verdict for breaching new hunting laws will have to wait for a reserved judgement later in the month.

Huntsman Richard Down, 44, of West Bagborough, and whipper-in Adrian Pillivant, 36, of Wil-land, Devon, were found guilty at Bristol Magistrates Court in June of hunting deer with dogs.

Anti-hunt campaigners filmed the Quantock Staghounds at one of their meets on February 16, and as a result Down and Pilli-vant were each fined £500 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs for chasing deer with dogs.

Both men have always denied flouting the hunting laws, believing what they did to be lawful as they were acting within the laws of Exempt Hunting.

Prosecution barrister Richard Furlong claimed that they failed to adhere to the five criteria of Exempt Hunting, and rather than following the "find, flush and shoot" rule they were hunting for sport, chasing the deer and not shooting at the first available op-portunity.

Giving evidence last Thursday at the appeal hearing at Taunton Crown Court, the land owner, Anthony Trollope-Bellew, said he gave the Quantock Staghounds permission to be on his land.

He said: "The deer were building up and doing damage, eating the grass, so I asked the stag-hounds to come down and take out as many deer as they could."

Witness Nicholas Gibbons, chairman of the Quantock Stag-hounds, said they adhered to the Exempt Hunting rules always, adding: "The deer were shot at what we considered was the first place to do so at the first available opportunity."

Defence barrister Neil Ford QC told the court: "Given the complexity of the provision with re-gard to hunting deer it was reasonable for the appellants to be-lieve they were taking part in Ex-empt Hunting."

Mr Justice Wyn Williams, presiding, said: "It is the wish that the court reserves its judgment and provides a written report."

He hoped to deliver the report to the court on October 19.