Bloodthirsty Fox Hounds adopted little deer
The heaving mass of fox hounds would intimidate even the biggest stag.But tiny orphan deer Bam Bam isn’t scared.Like his namesake Bambi the 10-week-old is a friendly creature and trots along with huntsman Adrian Thompson, 42, and his pack of 60 hounds.
The pack immediately accepted the lost fallow deer when they found him shivering by the Thompsons’ front gate just an hour after he had been born.Rather than being overwhelmed by the attention of such a large pack of dogs, from the Chiddingfold, Leconfield and Cowdray hunt, the confused little fawn thought he’d found his family.A surprised Mr Thompson said: ‘Now Bam Bam thinks he’s a Fox Hound because they all treat him like one of their own.’He won’t be going on any hunts though – he doesn’t have the stamina for it. It’s a fantastic sight to see although we know it’s a strange one and Bam Bam certainly gets a lot of funny looks from passers-by.People shake their heads in astonishment when they spot Bam Bam in among all the hounds as if they can’t believe what they’re seeing.
The friendly fawn is happiest among his fellow hounds on their daily walk.
Mr Thompson’s wife, Karen, 41, said: ‘Bam Bam seems most content when he’s ambling along with the hounds. He’s about the same size as them now so he fits in perfectly and walks along with the pack like they’re his brothers and sisters.’Although the Fox Hounds have come to accept Bam Bam as one of their own, Mr Thompson’s other dogs are rather less tolerant.He said: ‘A pack of domestic dogs would most certainly kill a deer that came across it’s path – I also have two terriers and they would certainly kill anything that came into the garden. They’re only just starting to accept little Bam Bam but I still wouldn’t leave them alone with him.
My Fox Hounds are very different though – the image of them as savage killers is completely wrong. They can be very placid animals and are very accepting of other animals – especially deer.’
After Bam Bam was discovered by the dogs earlier this summer he was brought into the family home in Petworth Park, West Sussex by Mr Thompson’s 12-year-old son, Tommy.
When Karen came down for breakfast that morning she was stunned to see the pair sitting happily on the living room floor.
She said: ‘It was such a surprise, the deer wasn’t afraid at all. He seemed to think that Tommy was his mum because he followed him around the room, and would hide behind the furniture if Tommy ever left.
It was uncertain whether Bam Bam would survive without the care and attention of his mother who had deserted him just yards from the Thompsons’ home, possibly scared off by the dogs.
Karen said: ‘It was touch and go for the first few days. We had to feed him half an ounce of lamb’s milk every hour – this had to be done 24 hours a day and was quite draining.’
Bam Bam is now regarded by the Thompsons as a member of the family.
Karen said: ‘He wanders around the garden and comes to play with us. We’ve had a few garden parties and he is such a favourite with the guests – he’s so friendly and is adored by everyone who meets him.’
Bam Bam, who will grow into a 177 pound adult, will stay with the family until they feel he can be safely released into the wild.
Karen said: ‘We can’t release him into the park here because there are too many people about. Bam Bam is not afraid of humans and we’re worried that this may make him dangerous.
‘He already gives us a nudge when he wants to eat and it’s not so bad because he’s only little but imagine what a nudge could do when he’s got a fine pair of antlers.’
The Thompsons will be sad to lose such a treasured member of the family but they know they can’t keep him forever and plan to set him free once he’s fully grown.
Next year they intend to rehome Bam Bam in a private park where he will be able to join a herd and finally learn how to be a deer.
Traditionally, deer hunting involves chasing the animal with a pack of dogs until it surrenders to exhaustion and can be shot.
This practice was banned under the Hunting Act 2004.
Deer stalking, where the hunter is close enough to kill the animal with a clean shot, is still permitted but with no more than two dogs