The Last English Poacher

A poignant study of a dying practice
The Last English Poacher



Emma Crome


Emma Crome

Running time

16 minutes

Country / Nationality


Our Judges say:

A thought provoking story about a rarely seen or discussed rural way of life.

Jimmy Hyland

Brian Tovey may be the last traditional poacher in England, the closest thing the country might have to an indigenous person living off the land. An antihero of conservation and nature, Brian’s outlook is anti-establishment and his way of life is almost off-grid, tucked away in a village on the edge of the English Cotswolds. He roams his surrounding fields and woods illegally hunting for game on private estates belonging to the big land-owners - Earls, Lords, Duchesses and farmers, an almost ethereal existence that clings to the age-old conflict between common and forest Law. ‘The Last English Poacher' is an elegy to England's changing rural communities, and our diminishing connection to the land. What can we learn from an outcast? A man who doesn’t love the animals he kills for food, but respects them and knows them better than most. This unconventional way of life is slipping away, and with it an intimate knowledge and perspective on a wilder way of living.
Directed by Emma Crome and Peter Emery, 'The Last English Poacher' sprang from research into characters for a long-form documentary about the state of nature in the UK. It quickly became obvious that Brian's way of life was an intriguing representation of a lesser-known part of our rural history, a far-cry from our picture postcard, bucolic views of our green and pleasant land. Emma's story of how she came to meet Brian can be heard on The Adventure Podcast, and you can learn more about Brian's story in the book by John F MacDonald - 'The Last English Poachers.'