Ruaridh Nicoll (comment editor of the Observer) starts off well, impressing the ladies with his rugged alpha male provider image:
At night around this time of year we'd hear the whistling of the sika on the rut. Sika bucks send three long clear notes out into the cooling sky, an ethereal sound, and as a boy I would hide among the hillocks above the treeline and wait for them to come into open country. Then, taking account of the wind and their fellows, I would crawl through bog myrtle, rush and heather to put myself in the spot where I could take the shot.Before revealing himself to be…well, a little less than manly.
In fact, a bit of a bitch:
The gunman – it's almost certain to be a man – who killed the Exmoor Emperor is unlikely to have done the same. He would have most likely had a professional stalker with him, a guide whose eyes were adapted to seeing deer where they stood or lay, and who was attuned to the way the wind moves so that the shooting party could always stay downwind of the prey. The shooter, most likely, was led to the Emperor, placed in the right position, and told when to pull the trigger.The bounder! Doesn’t he know a real man crawls through the undergrowth!
This is not to particularly disparage the man who killed this magnificent beast (although I'm being a little snobbish)…You’re being more than a little. And here comes one heck of a disparaging:
What I object to – and why the story of the Emperor is powerful – is the instinct that made this hunter want to shoot the most beautiful stag he could find.Because if you’re going to hang something on your wall, you don’t want it to be a cross-eyed mutant with no ears and a tiny set of antlers, perhaps?
There are many odd impulses and instincts at play in hunting. There is the challenge of stalking, the dutiful sense of managing numbers for the good of the landscape, and the age-old need to store food for the winter.Which you helpfully tell us you embody…
The instinct that makes a man kill a creature like the Emperor, I have always believed, rises from inadequacy.‘I only shot a teeny tiny stag, ladies! Therefore, behold my mighty manhood!’
Is that really how it goes, Ruaridh? Are you sure?
There was a German hunter I used as a guide when I was this paper's Africa correspondent (for environmental stories, not to shoot). He had an American client who would go out after antelope, zebra, even elephant. It would be a big party – with several trackers, the guide, and the hunter's wife. "It was the strangest thing," the guide told me as we sat round the fire one night. "Every time he shot something, his wife would run out and lie on the animal and he would have sex with her there. With all of us standing by … [long pause] It was embarrassing." Whoever killed the Exmoor Emperor was, I suspect, working from the same instincts.Ah. Right.
Now, far be it from me to point out that, second only to fishermen, big game hunters must surely be the biggest purveyors of tall tales and hilarious stories ever.
And that particular story has probably been told (with the nationalities juggled a bit) to every client he escorts.
But Ruaridh’s only getting warmed up, so to speak:
Of all the thousands of beasts he could have murdered, he chose the one the whole nation had oohed and aahed over.No, pretty sure that was Paul the Psychic Octopus…
Of course, I grew up and went into newspapers, another hunting business. Which is why I know that man who killed the Emperor has made a mistake; we journalists will now be desperate to find out who he is. He will now be hunted, just as surely as he was the hunter.And when you find him, will you have se…
No, better not finish that thought. I need a gallon of mindbleach already!
Of course, the journalist's list of suspects should really incorporate some unlikely candidates:
An orphaned deer was put down by the RSPCA because it was 'too tame'.Oh, how sad! And how did it get that way?
The fawn had been plucked from its pregnant mother after she was killed in a car crash.Ooopsie!
The male roe deer had been reared at the RSPCA Wildlife Centre in Nantwich, Cheshire, then released into the wild.
BDS spokesman David Kenyon said: 'If the RSPCA took the decision to raise the deer, then they should have taken the long-term decision to put it into a petting zoo.’Well, indeed. And why didn’t they?
Step forward a spokesman to stand, poised on the edge of flight, ears twitching for danger:
'The ethos behind our wildlife centres is to get wild animals back to where they belong.’In the ground?
Trust the RSPCA to want to speed up the Circle Of Life!