Wild game management for hunting in Western society has become increasingly complex as stakeholders have multiplied and as 'sustainability' influences the contemporary debate. This paper questions whether the current legal framework for game management, which has evolved from early European civilisations to focus on 'hunting rights', is relevant to regulate the contemporary environmental, social and economic dimensions of wild game and their management. Employing a narrative analysis to focus on deer, the study identifies key legislative tenets and highlights the pertinence of historical laws to contemporary conflicts. The analysis suggests that current legislation is increasingly divergent from contemporary trends and has created inertia with respect to sustainable deer management. The paper offers four options to redress this: state intervention; voluntary collaboration; financial incentives; and establishing a legal responsibility for management. It is concluded that significant innovation is required in one or more of these four areas to facilitate the contemporary sustainable management of wild deer in Britain.