Centuries have passed since William the Conqueror would ride the land around Yorkshire’s Tatefield Hall, hunting stags on horseback in the Royal Forest of Knaresborough.
Now, thanks to one of the region’s businessmen, deer are once again roaming the grounds of the estate, with the land having being transformed into a deer farm.
Shane Tate, founding partner of Tate Consulting, has embarked on a five-year project to transform the estate,
In just 12 months Mr Tate, alongside his wife Claire and two children, has successfully established a breeding herd of more than 100 on the land and is supplying venison to a large-scale retailer.
More used to sitting in meetings or visiting construction sites than roaming meadows on a quad bike, Mr Tate was moved to begin farming deer at Tatefield Hall after reading an interview in the Yorkshire Post last year in which the man selling the land remarked how ideal the grounds were suited to producing deer.
“I always thought in the back of my mind that it would be nice to do something like that,” he said.
“The whole thing about the place really appealed to me, even the Tate name. There was an affinity automatically.
“It brings a lot of personal enjoyment just walking the land and it is really good being outside, with nature and the animals. It is a complete contrast with what I do on a day-to-day basis, much more physically taxing.”
Mr Tate admits that learning the technical side of farming has been challenging but the project very much represents a labour of love for the businessman, whose whole family has grown to love the new life they have embarked upon at Tatefield Hall.
“At the moment I am constantly down there, on a daily basis, and have another man who is there all the time to help with the feeding.
“Things are really starting to take shape. The pace of what we have been doing here has been quite quick and we have had to learn a lot.
“In the past 12 months I have had to look at soil management, pasture management, stock management, put up 4-5km of fencing and looked to improve the access road.”
It has proved a change for his family too, with son Daniel, 15, having helped out with some of the preparatory work on the farm and enjoying target shooting with his father on the land.
Meanwhile daughter Ellie, nine, is apparently dead set on becoming a farmer when she gets older, taking a keen interest in what is done on the farm and displaying a real rapport and love with the animals.
Mr and Mrs Tate were given assistance by a number of local farmers who provided expertise and advice on how best to establish their operation. The British Deer Farming and Parkland Association too were “incredibly supportive” according to Mr Tate.
“We brought in 70-80 red deer, sorted out fencing for the land and rutted them, bringing in our first load of calves his year,” he added.
“We are now at around 105 breeding hinds and in the past couple of weeks we have brought in our own stags.”
Mr Tate refers to the project as a “lifestyle master plan”, with his wife also having plans to establish an equestrian business on the site. Both hope to provide increased local employment as a result of the venture. However, the farm is providing Mr Tate with his own reward, after he fell in love with the history and grandeur of the land.
“Sometimes when I walk the grounds I get a cold shudder,” he said. “William the Conqueror hunted stag on horseback here.
“The history is overwhelming.”