2.19 The following paragraphs briefly describe the main
features of a day's foxhunting with mounted followers.
(ii) A day's hunting
2.20 In the days leading up to a hunt the Master or Huntsman
 is expected to contact farmers and landowners in the
area to discuss any potential difficulties such as growing crops
or fields in which livestock are being held. Many hunts take
steps the night before, or early on the day of the hunt, to
block up the entrances to earths, badger setts and artificial
places such as drains. This is to ensure that foxes stay above
ground after they have hunted during the night and to prevent
them from going to ground once the hunt has started. Where
earths have been stopped they are required by the MFHA
rules to be opened up again at the end of the day's hunting.
2.21 Typically, riders, hounds and followers gather together at
the meet at about 11:00 am. This is usually held at a farm or
outside a public house or on a village green. After
refreshments and any announcements, the Huntsman, the hunt
staff and hounds will "move off" to the place where it is
planned to start hunting. The mounted field, typically 30 at a
mid-week meet and 50 at weekends, led by the Field Master,
will follow at a distance. A similar number of other followers
will set off, often in vehicles, for a suitable vantage point.
2.22 The hounds will be encouraged to spread out to "draw"
(search) for a fox in woodland or rough ground. If they find a
scent, the hounds will "speak" (give voice excitedly) and follow
the "line". Sometimes the hounds will come across a fox and kill
it immediately ("chop" it) before it has had a chance to flee. In
other cases, the hounds, followed at a distance by the mounted
field, who may have to take an indirect route, will pursue the
fox or, rather, its scent. Often, the hounds will lose the scent
altogether, as a result of the scenting conditions or the fox's
movements. They may have to "check" in order to rediscover it.
If the hounds are successful in their pursuit, they will get
close enough to the fox to see it and will then catch it up, kill it
and usually tear at the carcass ("break it up"). The length of
the chase may vary considerably, from a few minutes to well
over an hour or even longer, but the average is some 15 to 20
minutes. The distance covered may be anything up to six or
seven miles, in a circular or twisting line. The Huntsman,
once he or she has caught up with the hounds, will call them
off. The tail ("brush") of the fox, or possibly its feet, may be
removed and given to one of the followers. Generally, few
riders and followers will be present at the kill.
2.23 Quite frequently, instead of being caught by the hounds,
the fox will go to ground, typically in a fox earth. According to
the rules of the MFHA, if the fox has gone to ground in a
natural earth, it may be dug out and killed if the farmer or
landowner has requested that any foxes going to ground on his
or her land should be dug out. It cannot be released to be
hunted again. The decision whether to dig out is for the Master
to take and may turn on the difficulty of doing so or the
damage which might be caused in the process. If, however, the
fox has taken refuge in a man-made structure, or in a place
such as rocks where it cannot be dug out, the fox may be
"bolted", by putting a terrier down, and hunted again. The
MFHA rules require that the fox must be given a sporting
chance to escape before the hounds are "laid on".
2.24 The same rules about digging-out apply to
MFHA-registered members of the FWP and to those AMBH
packs which hunt foxes. The CCFP's rules also require that the
MFHA procedures should be followed, although we understand
that more discretion is permitted because of the nature of the
terrain and the greater emphasis on 'pest control'.
2.25 The task of dealing with a fox that has "gone to ground"
falls to the terrierman. In the case of the MFHA and
related associations, the terrierman must be on the register of
terriermen kept by the MFHA and must also hold a current
licence from them. If the fox is to be dug out, they will
close, or net off, other possible exits and then put a terrier
(usually with a radio tracking device) down the hole in order to
locate the fox. The terrier will either bolt the fox or drive it
back to a stationary position. In the case of the latter, the
terriermen will then block any exits from the earth and dig
down to the fox, remove the terrier and shoot the fox in the
head with a specially-adapted pistol. If the fox runs into a net,
it will be held still and shot. The MFHA rules state that only
one or two people should assist the terrierman when digging out
or bolting and that the Master in charge, or someone of
authority personally appointed by them, must supervise any
digging-out or bolting operation. In the meantime the hunt
will usually have moved on to begin hunting elsewhere.
2.26 For the rest of the day there will be a similar process of
drawing, scenting and pursuit. Mounted followers may change
The report is equally complete about hares, minks, and deer.
"I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay." Thread killer Extraordinaire
Why am I not surprised to see such crude language in the ALF letter. My heart just breaks for the Beagles who are away from all things which they are familiar with. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img] My dogs would be terribly distraught were they in that situation. So sad.
On a lighter note, I went hunting this morning. It was "Puppy" day. Nothing like spending the morning with the "kindergarden canine group" to put this mess in perspective. Lovely hunt, great puppies.