Lionel Edwards first hunted with the Devon and Somerset Staghounds in his early twenties, while on holiday with his mother near Exmoor. He became friends with Ernest Bawden, the Devon and Somerset's whipper-in of 'indomitable pluck and perseverance', who from 1916 became its most distinguished huntsman. In 1902 Edwards painted Stag at Bay for his first exhibition, held in the parish room at Porlock, which he had rented from the vicar. His works sold so well that they paid for his hunting holiday. Edwards returned to hunt with the Devon and Somerset in the 1920s, relishing the 'land where nothing breaks the surface or measures the view for the stranger, one vast stretch of open treeless country' (see J.N.P. Watson, Lionel Edwards Master of the Sporting Scene, London, 1986, pp.26, 28 and 72).
Exmoor's red deer - the last susbstantial herd still running wild in England - have been hunted since the days of the Saxon kings. After decline during the Commonwealth, the hunt was revived in the 1720s by the 2nd Earl of Orford, son of the Prime Minister, Robert Walpole.