Animal rights campaigners have responded furiously after David Cameron bemoaned missing out on pursuing his favourite blood sport, deer stalking, because of a bad back.
Mr Cameron sparked fury after he explained that he is suffering from such severe back pain, he has been forced to avoid the hunting activity – one of the most controversial field sports.
Although having remained discreet about his love of the sport, the prime minister has for many years enjoyed family holidays on the Tarbert estate owned by his wife Samantha’s stepfather, Viscount Astor, on the Scottish island of Jura.
Now, animal welfare groups have hit back, saying the prime minister "should leave shows of baseless, old-fashioned machismo" to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
"The Prime Minister's "protruding disc" suggests that he understands pain, at least his own pain, and one wishes his compassion and value for his own life and well-being extended to the deer he mercilessly shoots for a bit of fun," the animal welfare group Peta said.
"Animal-loving Britons abhor cruelty to animals and know full well, as should Mr Cameron, that stags, the fathers and protectors of the deer family, often experience a slow and painful death after being shot," a spokesperson told HuffPost UK.
"Mr Cameron should leave shows of baseless, old-fashioned machismo to Mr Putin. It is disturbing to see that killing animals is the prime minister's idea of a holiday.
"If he wants to enjoy nature, perhaps he can take up quietly watching their majestic, gentle nature and harmless, environmentally sound way of life instead of blasting at them with a shotgun."
According to the prime minister deer stalking is "probably one of the most defendable" field sports.
He also denied giving up hunting because of opposition to the sport by some people.
Mark Jones, the Executive Director of the Humane Society International/UK, told HuffPost the prime minister ought to be more "enlightened."
"It's shocking that David Cameron considers it morally acceptable to crawl around in the undergrowth taking pot shots at defenceless animals in the name of sport," he said.
"However, the support of many within his party for blood-sports is sadly well established, so perhaps we shouldn’t be altogether surprised.
"England's badgers will soon be the latest innocent victims as Cameron's cull is due to start imminently.
"Mr Cameron and his colleagues should abandon their enthusiasm for such activities, and instead seek more enlightened and humane ways to protect and manage our precious wildlife."
Friends of the Tory leader, who has also made a passionate defence of fox hunting in the past, have previously revealed that he is a crack shot capable of hitting two stags seconds apart.
Bruce Anderson, a political columnist who hunts with Mr Cameron, said the PM is a “devotee” of the blood sport.
In the past, Mr Cameron has been forced to insist he has never illegally fox hunted, after members of his local hunt were convicted of hunting a wild fox with hounds.Suggest a correction