By Richard Prior
Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Q) My stalking partner recently queried the collective name for a group of roe. Personally, I would apply the term “herd”. As they are not herd animals, he wonders what the correct collective noun is. Can you help resolve this? G. PROWSE By email
A) Roe tend to congregate in the middle of fields in winter, but close study shows that in no way do they form a cohesive herd, and still cling to their family structure. However, if there are six or more of them together, the correct term is a bevy of roe.
One can have a lot of fun with the language of medieval hunting, but in the Middle Ages, using the right term was vitally important if you wished to retain your reputation as a hunter and a gentleman. Make a mistake and not only would you be ridiculed by your fellow hunters, but you could also find yourself bent over the body of a deer and belaboured with the flat of a ceremonial sword!
The hunted roe had its own terms of venery. The tracks it left in the grass were not slots but foil, and its droppings were crotties. At rest, it was not harboured like a stag but bedded, so when disturbed it was unbedded. Once successful in the hunt, the hunt servants would not undo, but hurdle it. Recent research has shown that the Norman nobles who invented this language were generally served at the banquet which followed a hunt with haunches, while the lower orders made do with the fore-end and, of course, the offal which made the celebrated humble pie.
A solicitor who specialises in country sports law... Read more
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