GLORIOUS Country Pursuits: hunting in the Quantocks.

There is a great tradition of hunting in the Quantocks and surrounding areas, and many are proud of this history, which still links many families and rural landowners, and attracts tourism and money.

Some tell of the thrill they feel tearing across the hills on horseback, leaping over fences and competing against the next rider. Others may feel a thrill in the pursuit and killing.

Although I can associate with the pleasures of riding out on a horse, I am not one to relish the torment of a living being.

I am an animal lover and want my horse to stay safe and sound.

I am also prepared to accept the science which has told of the suffering of a hunted animal and given rise to a law.

Society changes according to discoveries such as this.

Society also changes based on need. It can no longer be said that rural livelihoods are being threatened by herds of red deer or foxes running rife through chicken pens.

Should they become a problem, there are far better methods of prevention or culling than a crowd gathered in excitement.

It is time to consign the sport of hunting to history and create new glorious English Country pursuits which can very much utilise the skills, tools and knowledge, which the community already has.

There is a great opportunity to attract tourism and money by offering deer safaris, nature breaks, glamping in the wild, cross country riding courses. Even scientific research, heritage construction skills and archaeological studies.

Antlers are grown and discarded every year and can be found like fossils on Kilve beach. Deer and foxhounds can be neutered and retired to pet or show status, like their wolf and otter cousins.

If one leaves out the guns and suffering and killing of an animal, then the community will once again become united, and doors and land be thrown open to all.

It may be taking some years, as generational habits pass from one to another, but I can see how the old ways of hunting for pleasure are dying out, as social and scientific progress have paved the way for a better understanding of how we must be part of nature to enable this planet to survive.