I felt fairly hopeless, and could not get a word in edgeways.
This was obviously someone who had no real knowledge or understanding of the countryside, other than information acquired through biased newspapers and television programmes. How does one go about dealing with walkers, and coping with this sort of ignorant abuse?
DEALING WITH WALKERS
We all dread confrontations and probably shrink from too much contact with the public. This can even occur with the owner and staff of the land where we stalk.
All the same, it is advisable to have a few explanations ready, to be reasoned and not totally defensive.
One vital point is not to promote a ‘Rambo’ image.
Knives should never be visible and camouflage gear worn only when strictly necessary (this, frankly, is seldom).
Also, deer carcases should not be displayed if possible.
Of course, there are many excellent reasons for stalking, notably the absence of predators, keeping deer numbers within the capacity of the woodland which supports them and avoiding damage to trees and crops.
Unfortunately, if you mention a sustainable supply of first-class organic venison, you can almost guarantee that your outraged inquisitor will be a vegetarian – but it is still a valid reason for stalking.
Uncontrolled dogs can also present a difficult problem.
However, a gamekeeper I know, when reasoning with a dog walker whose animal was loose, took him on a tour of his beat while explaining some of his daily problems, the conservation work he was undertaking and the risks to ground-nesting birds and young deer from loose, uncontrolled dogs.
This was a positive approach and one which, for once, produced some understanding and rapport between the two parties.
Doing something like this may not always be a viable option, yet some sort of positive approach can sometimes work.