It seems crazy to me that the only folk who can control deer between sunset and sunrise are poachers with dogs and rifles – while most coppers stand back and let them get on with it. If responsible stalkers were allowed to carry out a cull at night, the wrong-doers would be forced to stay home at night, surely?

Stalking
GEORGE WALLACE says: While understanding your emotions, let me say straight away that I am fundamentally opposed to shooting deer at night, unless there is absolutely no alternative.

Where deer are undisturbed they can be seen out in the fields at any time of day. Harassment makes them first crepuscular and then, if shooting persists until dark, completely nocturnal, not coming out to feed until long after legal shooting time.

Research some time ago showed that shooting deer at night causes a great deal of stress because their last element of safety has gone. We are not, I hope, in the business of creating unnecessary stress in our most beautiful wild animals.

Lamping is indeed carried on in Scotland under licences which are allegedly, my informant said, chucked about like confetti. In many cases licences are requested by people who are just too damned idle to carry out the cull in the normal hours.

Such practice brings the whole of shooting into disrepute and gives ammunition to our opponents. One requirement in Scotland, when night shooting, is for the use of a more powerful rifle, so the ubiquitous .243 is not allowed.

The only acceptable excuse for shooting deer at night is when they are doing serious damage to crops after dark and cannot be shot at any other time because they are simply not there. They should then be shot where they are doing the damage, not anywhere else, or they will not learn to avoid the crops.

If you want to patrol your land at night, do you really need to be shooting deer or anything else? If you do want to shoot something then rabbits and foxes are legitimate targets.

If you feel that your presence with lamp and rifle will deter poachers, does it matter what quarry you are after?