I emailed my local hunt with this question, but I didn't get a response. They are having a clinic and hunt at the end of this month, which I thought sounded like fun. Then my husband pointed out that the flier said live hunt. Its says they hunt coyote and fox. So does this mean the hounds are chasing a live coyote or fox? What happens to it at the end of the hunt? Someone on another board told me that foxhunting isn't a bloodsport in the U.S., but I just wanted to be sure how that is handled. Thanks!
It's not a "bloodsport" in the UK or the US. That's animal rights talk that is repeated so often no one ever bothers to question if it is true.
There are drag hunts in the US, but most are live. In the US, the focus is on the chase, and kills are exceedingly rare. When there is a kill, the animal is usually old, injured or diseased. (mange is a horrible, but common, affliction). Death is instantaneous.
The quarry is not penned or released, it is an animal with an established territory it is intimately familiar with. It is in its habitat, and it is not hunted when it is tending to its young. Hunters are licensed and obey all game laws and regulations, in addition to the MFHA Code of Ethics.
It is exceedingly difficult to locate quarry by scent, and the quarry is expert at foiling a larger predator and covering its tracks. I've seen foxes make absolute fools of the hounds. I've seen the hunted fox sit at the top of a hill grooming themselves and observing the hounds below - going around in circles.
The hounds are not smelling where the quarry is. They are smelling where it WAS. If conditions are right, and the hounds pick up a scent, they run along that scent line and the field follows, while the huntsman cheers them on.
The hounds are long behind the quarry, and the field is even farther back.
If conditions aren't right, you may end up going on a trail ride or sitting in a field cooling your heels. You just never know.
The beauty of hunting is the hound work, watching hounds work together as a unit - a pack. You get to know each hound; its strengths and weaknesses. You see them born, help them through puppyhood, and watch them become a part of the pack, and see them run - happy, healthy and reveling in their senses.
The odds are always in favor of the quarry. He is never cut off from safety, he is never manipulated or harassed, and many hunts chase the same fox for many years.
Unfortunately, coyote have moved in and as a larger predator, are killing all the foxes. This has upset the natural balance and many landowners do want coyote killed. There are terrible problems with predation on lambs and other livestock (as well as pets).
If you want to try hunting, that's wonderful. But it is hunting, though the goal is to chase. A benefit to the landowner is that the quarry can be discouraged from outbuildings and fields like barns and calf pastures.
I have hunted on foot and mounted for years and have never observed any act that I considered unethical, unsporting, or inhumane. The kennels of the hunt clubs I belong to are spic and span and even have pools for the hounds to lounge in when it gets hot out.
If you'd like to try hunting, be prepared to be welcomed and encouraged by a great group of devoted people who will be happy to teach you all they know. You will be awed and amazed.
Purchase a hunting license, as foxhunting without a license is a crime.
I'm not opposed to hunting, in the theoretical sense. In fact, in my area we are really needing more hunting. Our population of deer and turkey are obviously out of control. However, I'm not a hunter myself, just doesn't appeal to me. I think I'd enjoy the riding and company though.