ELY — British hunter Martin Guy piqued the interest of his American brethren with tales of England’s illustrious saber-toothed deer.
But the U.S. airmen he attends church with in Cambridge weren’t quite convinced the creature was more than local legend until he showed them the photos.
Less fanciful than a chimera or unicorn, though still very bewildering, the tusked animal is actually the Chinese water deer. The small Asian species was introduced to the country in the 19th century.
"It’s quite rare. Had to prove it wasn’t a jackalope," joked Guy, referring to the fictional horned rabbit.
Most of his fellow American hunters didn’t know about the Chinese water deer because they hadn’t hunted in the U.K., Guy said.
"People think you can’t hunt in the U.K. There are more restrictive gun laws here, but you can still hunt," said Guy, who has teamed up with Outdoor Recreation at RAF Mildenhall to gauge hunting interests among local U.S. troops.
An avid hunter who is plugged into hunting organizations around the country, Guy aims to be a guide to the world of U.K. hunting for visiting troops. A meeting on March 18 will determine whether the base will proceed with the partnership.
"It’s a great opportunity, but we need to see how many people are interested," said Keats McLaughlin, Outdoor Rec’s adventure programmer. "We’ll see what the turnout is and go from there."
Guy, a 50-year-old father of seven and lifelong hunter, emphasizes responsible hunting and land stewardship.
"We don’t wipe out populations," he said. "It’s about wildlife management and more than just turning wildlife into protein." Guy, a logistics manager at a high-tech company in Ely, said his motivation isn’t money.
"It’s for the love of the sport, really," he said. "We want people to know they can go out there and hunt."