Fox hunting is the use of dogs under human control to locate, chase and kill foxes. The hunters can be on horseback or on foot. The dogs are specialist scent hounds trained to detect and follow the scent of the red fox. A typical fox hound pack contains 30-40 dogs and they are generally accompanied by dozens of hunters who take on various roles.
Despite it being the 21st century, the people involved in a fox hunt are still known as masters and servants. The hunt masters are the bosses or organisers. They are financially and legally responsible for the hunt and the role of hunt master carries significant prestige. Most hunts have several masters though not all masters are present at every hunt meet.
Few native species divide opinion as deeply as the red fox. Despite being voted the third most popular British mammal in a recent BBC Wildlife survey, foxes still face widespread demonisation and persecution. A better understanding of fox ecology and behaviour – and the essential ecological role they play – can help dispel the myths and misconceptions about this iconic British species. The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is the most widely distributed wild carnivore on the planet. It naturally occurs across North America, Eurasia and Japan, and even as far north as the Arctic Circle. It has also been deliberately introduced (and thrived) in other regions such as Australia by English colonisers for the purpose of foxhunting. This widespread global success is due to the fox’s incredible adaptability
From King Canute to David Cameron, hunting has taken place worldwide for hundreds of years. Its original purpose was to provide food and protect livestock. The practice of using dogs with a keen sense of smell to track prey has been traced back to ancient Egypt and many Greek and Roman influenced countries. It is believed that the custom for a fox to be tracked, chased and often killed by trained hunting hounds, known as "scent hounds" and followed by the Master of the Foxhounds and his team on foot and horseback, originated from a Norfolk farmer’s attempt to catch a fox using farm dogs in 1534.
King Canute the Dane said that all greyhounds kept within ten miles of a royal forest should have their knees mutilated to prevent them chasing the deer. However, the same king ordered that every man should be entitled to hunt in wood and field in his own possession.
All about Drag Hunting - It’s thrilling, exciting, challenging, skillful and legal
Drag hunting and hunting with bloodhounds is a sport in which a pack of hounds follows either an artificially laid scent or the scent of a human over a predetermined route. Most drag hounds and bloodhound packs are registered with the Masters of Draghounds and Bloodhounds Association (MDBA). Drag hunting, or drag hunting, originally developed in the UK in the early 1800s as a means of testing the speed and agility of hounds by laying a scent trail over a specified distance. This, in turn, encouraged the practice of following the hounds on horseback. There are currently thirteen drag hounds packs in the UK registered with the MDBA made up mainly of English foxhounds.
Autumn Hunting is the hunter’s prelude to the new season. Often referred to by Hunts as ‘gentle training’ and classified as ‘suitable for younger members’, meaning that children from the Pony Club can attend.
So what is Autumn Hunting?
Autumn Hunting or ‘Hound exercise’ as the Hunt’s now refer to it, was previously known, more honestly, as ‘cubbing’. Hunting takes place ‘when the harvest allows’. It generally runs throughout September and October will start from ‘first light’ around 6 am.
The “Meets” as the hunts refer to them are held early in the morning as the scent of the fox’s is fresh and easier for the young hounds to pick up.
“This is the future of Hunting! No Cruelty, no Lies, no Kill ”
This Boxing Day, hunts will gather to parade in villages across England and Wales for the traditional Boxing Day meet. But this year there will be a new atmosphere - a wind of change.
Dr. Brian May at the Three Counties Bloodhounds Wales This Boxing Day, hunts will gather to parade in villages across England and Wales for the traditional Boxing Day meet. But this year there will be a new atmosphere - a wind of change. A few months ago there was an attempt by Cameron and his merry men to undermine the Hunting Act with a ‘Statutory Instrument’. It would have reopened the door to full scale blood hunting but it was foiled, not just by Cameron’s political opponents, but also by a courageous band of Tory MP’s who refused to be bullied into supporting an act of Parliament which would take away the protection of our wildlife from cruelty.
Trail hunting did not exist before the Hunting Act 2004. When the Act came into force, the Masters of the Draghounds and Bloodhounds Association (MDBA) were particularly concerned that illegal live quarry hunting, under the guise of following an artificially laid scent, would have a detrimental effect on the sport of drag hunting. To prevent their sport being brought into disrepute, the MDBA insisted that the term 'drag hunting' should remain their exclusive property. As a consequence, the term 'trail hunting' was invented.
Trail hunting is designed to replicate live quarry hunting as much as possible and involves simulating the search in covert for a scent to follow. The laying of trails, it is claimed, is carried out in such a way as to mirror the movements of the hunted live quarry with the result that the progress of the hunt is less predictable and at a slower pace than that of a drag hunt. There is more emphasis on hound work in trail hunting than in drag hunting. The trail scent purportedly used is animal-based; there is little information on the type of scent used but in the case of traditional fox hunting packs, fox urine is often claimed to be used. The reason given for the use of animal based scents is that if the Hunting Act is repealed the hounds do not have to be re-trained to hunt the natural quarry scent.
Hare are hunted with packs of hounds, beagles, and bassets (also referred to as ‘beagling’, where the hounds are followed on foot) and by harriers (followed on horseback). These hounds were bred, not for the speed but for the stamina that guaranteed the lengthy chase the hunters sought. The hare is not a native species to the UK and was introduced by the Romans. During the late 1800s, there were about four million brown hares in Britain. But recent surveys show the brown hare has declined by more than 80% during the past 100 years and the decline is ongoing. In some parts of Britain, such as the south-west, the brown hare is almost a rarity and may even be locally extinct.
Between April and October, another form of hunting with hounds is carried out illegally; mink hunting. Carried out on foot along river banks, mink hunts are the remnants of otter hunts, which stopped after otters became a protected species.
There are 17 hunts and over 20 unregistered packs. They have between 12 & 16 hounds hunting - a mix of otterhounds, foxhounds, and others. Besides hunting mink, they will kill anything they come across, and there's concern that they'll kill otters if they come across them.
There are six species of deer in the UK; Red, Roe, Fallow, Sika, Muntjac and Chinese Water deer, all are hunted to some degree reflecting their relative population either as a "sport" or culling for the purposes of population control. Closed seasons for deer vary by species.
The practice of declaring a closed season in England dates back to medieval times when it was called "fence month" and commonly lasted from June 10th to July 10th although the actual dates varied. It is illegal to use bows to hunt any wild animal in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
THERE IS NO EXCUSE for the continuation of fox hunting. The only argument for it that you can believe is sincere, from its supporters, is that they enjoy it. But they will put up all kinds of smoke screens – essentially bogus defences. This fox lovers' guide provides definitive answers to the hunter's lame claims.
This is a fox lovers’ handbook designed to answer the lame claims of hunters who believe it’s acceptable to torture foxes to death.
Fourteen of the hunt supporters’ best shots detailed here, along with the answers which expose them as false.
Scotland's Consultation of the Protection of Wild Mammal Act 2002
In 2015, Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon announced her government would hold a review of the Protection of Wild Mammals Act 2002. In December, it was confirmed that the review would be led by Lord Bonomy with a consultation process starting in February and finishing by the end of March.
As part of the Team Fox coalition of wildlife groups, The Save Me Trust agreed to submit to the consultation, working closely in conjunction with the League Against Cruel Sports (Scotland) and a wide range of local groups based in Scotland who have detailed information on the antics of Scottish hunt packs.
We strongly oppose the government's proposals to amend the Hunting Act 2004 using a draft Order. The government proposes to use a statutory instrument to change the exemptions under the Act, in order to use an unlimited number of dogs in exempt cases. At present, the exemptions only apply where a maximum of two dogs are used. The government claims that it is amending the exemptions to bring them into line with the position in Scotland, under the Protection of Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002.
"The use of a draft Order, rather than a Bill to amend, is a good example of 'cherry picking' some of the bits of the Scottish legislation that favour hunters, without also taking on the related obligations. Most notably, the Scottish legislation has the possibility of higher penalties to go with its more liberal approach to the number of dogs used. The power to amend the existing exemptions by Order does not permit amendment of penalties and thus underlines the inappropriateness of the approach of using a draft Order.