The Quantock Staghounds leave the Anchor Inn

Stag killers no longer welcome in this Somerset pub

Pub company Greene King has stated that the Anchor Inn in Exebridge will no longer host the Quantock Staghounds. This stand against hunting is a blow to the murderous industry.

Huntpubs, a campaign that exposes the pubs and venues supporting illegal hunting, published an email on X (formerly Twitter). It had previously asked the public to contact Greene King after the Anchor Inn hosted the Quantock Staghounds on 28 September 2023. A video, filmed and published by Wildlife Guardian, showed the hunt leaving the pub’s grounds to hunt stags. So in response, Huntpubs urged its followers to take action. It said on X:

“Anchor Inn, Dulverton hosted the notorious Quantock Staghounds this morning, despite the same hunt appearing in a horrific expose by Channel 4 News two days ago. Please contact the pub and (politely) ask them never to host this crime gang again. Please warn customers.”

Public opinion matters

Following public outcry, Mike O’Connor, Greene King’s Operations Manager for the southwest, stated:

“Our current partner took formal possession of the Anchor Inn in February of this year and accepted the booking on the basis that it was an annual local event.

He has however informed us that going forward, he will not be hosting such event again.”

This might seem like only a small victory in the fight against illegal hunting, but it is, nonetheless, significant. Hunts across the country try to fool the public that they are following “tradition”, that they are simply going about the “rural way of life”. They count on the public not seeing them as they tear up stags and foxes, and their murders usually take place away from the public eye. Only hunt saboteurs and monitors are there to witness the brutal reality of what really takes place. A key tactic in hunting’s PR ploy is to use local pubs to portray an image of a quaint, harmless pastime that is an intrinsic part of the rural community.

As Protect the Wild’s Glen Black previously pointed out:

“Pubs, which traditionally form a hub for the local community, have played an essential role…by hosting hunts. This can be seen in the number of pubs with names such as ‘Fox and Hounds’ or ‘Hare and Hounds’.”

Through videos, photos and eyewitness accounts from sabs and monitors, we are well aware of the bloody truth that the hunting industry doesn’t want us to see. And public opinion matters. As we’ve seen in this latest victory, putting pressure on businesses not to associate themselves with blood sports works.

Huntpubs said:

“Hunts need venues for meets, fundraising and creating an image of respectability. With increasing awareness of the cruel reality of hunting it’s something venues need to keep well away from. Leaving messages and communicating with these places DOES make a difference.”


Quantock Stag Hounds load murdered stag onto quad bike
Quantock Stag Hounds load a murdered stag onto quad bike. Photo via North Dorset Sabs


The most vile hunt

In disassociating itself with the Quantock Staghounds, the Anchor Inn has make the correct decision. This is, after all, one of the country’s most brutal hunts. Channel 4 recently covered a Quantock kill, helping to expose the gruesome reality of stag hunting to a much wider audience. But hunt monitors and saboteurs had been filming and documenting this disgusting hunt’s murders for years before the Channel 4 exposé.

The Quantock Staghounds are one of three registered packs of staghounds in England that hunt Red Deer. The hunt is relentless in its ‘sport’, almost hunting stags on the Quantock Hills to extinction in the area.

A Somerset Wildlife Crime monitor previously explained what happens on a typical Quantock Staghounds hunt. She said:

“When the stag is running, there are between 10 and 50 people in vehicles – in 4X4s, on quad bikes and motorbikes – who will park themselves up on the high land. The huntsman and hounds will go in to try and pick up a scent. The field riders, which can be between 6 and 30 people, follow on behind. Since the [hunting] ban was brought in, they went from using a pack of hounds to using two hounds, and compensated for that by using the umpteen supporters, on quad bikes and motorbikes, all hunting the stag.”‍

Hunts are usually hours-long. Stags are driven to complete exhaustion and then subjected to a brutal murder. According to Somerset Wildlife Crime:

“They all want to be the first to get down to the kill. It’s horrific… They all turn up and want to be the one to jump on him, grab hold of his antlers, wrestle him and literally sit on him while they wait for a gun carrier. They will then shoot him and cut his throat. Actually, this is their preferred method of killing. If they could get away with it, they wouldn’t even bother shooting him.”‍

The Quantock Hills is owned by various landowners — including the National Trust and the Forestry Commission. Campaigners were asking the National Trust to ban the Quantock Staghounds from its land for a number of years before the land owner finally banned hunting on its land.


exhausted deer hunted by quantock stag hounds
This stag was hunted down by Quantock Stag Hounds in November 2021. Photo by Somerset Wildlife Crime

Together we make a difference

The Quantock Staghounds has historically got away with murdering stags with almost complete impunity. So the Anchor Inn’s ban is commendable, sending a message to the arrogant hunt that even if the police and Crown Prosecution Service won’t take action, businesses can — and will.

The Anchor Inn isn’t the first pub to turn its back on hunting, nor will it be the last. A few other examples of pubs taking a stand include the following:

Raven Inn, Powys: In December 2022, we covered how pub chose not to host the South Shropshire Hunt’s Boxing Day meet. The pub said the decision came after it had received a “kind and non-abusive” message.

Jamaica Inn, Cornwall: In March 2022, the pub, which had hosted hunts for 100 years, decided to stop hosting hunts after local pack the East Cornwall Hunt invited the Beaufort Hunt to the pub.

First and Last Inn in Cornwall: In November 2021, the pub stopped hosting hunts after the Western Hunt, which had reserved a lunch event at the pub, was filmed killing domestic cat Mini.

Encouraging pubs to stop supporting hunts runs alongside other campaigns, such as pressuring councils to prevent Boxing Day hunting parades. Councils, too, have a duty to act against hunts, although the majority of them wash their hands of any responsibility to take meaningful action. But together we can convince councils and local businesses that they shouldn’t associate themselves with murder.


  • Follow HuntPubs and Wildlife Guardian, who were responsible for ensuring that the Anchor Inn took meaningful action against the Quantock Staghounds.
  • Donate to North Dorset Hunt Sabs here.
  • Our first Secret Monitor post focussed on stag hunting and the Quantock Staghounds
  • Protect the Wild and Action Against Fox Hunting are running a campaign, asking for councils to prevent hunts from parading on their land this Boxing Day. Take action here.
  • The Hunting Act, with all its loopholes, isn’t worth the paper it has been printed on. We need a proper ban, which would ensure that the Quantock Staghounds can no longer get away with murder. Read our proposed Hunting of Mammals Bill here.


Featured image via Wildlife Guardian/screenshot