There are over 200 foxhunts in Britain, each hunting 2 to 4 times a week.
The main season is from November until late March, although some carry on
until the start of May. All hunts also 'cub hunt' (hunt young fox cubs as
training for new hounds) for 2/3 months before the start of the main season.
The hunt itself will gather in late morning, although an 'earth stopper' will
have been out at dawn to block up any known fox earths, drains and badger setts,
so that foxes returning from a night's foraging will be exposed above ground.
The huntsman will lead the hounds to a wood or covert where there is a known
earth. The hounds are sent into the wood to flush out any foxes. As all
underground escape routes are blocked, the fox is forced to run to escape the
hounds. Riders positioned around the wood will 'holloa' to let the huntsman know
the direction the fox has run.
Foxhounds are bred to be slower than foxes, but have far better stamina.
Thus, the fox will initially out-pace the hounds, but tire quicker, allowing the
hounds to eventually catch up with it. It is almost always an older, experienced
hound who will catch a fox on the run, snapping at any part of the fox to slow
it down. The rest of the pack then catches up and the fox is torn to pieces.
If the fox manages to find refuge in an un-blocked earth, the hunt employ
terriermen who will put their terriers down the earth to force the fox into the
open to be re-hunted, or attack the fox underground while the men dig down
through the soil to catch the terrified animal. Once they have dug out the fox,
the terriermen are supposed to shoot it, but many will simply give it a blow
with a spade. It is not unheard of (although against fox hunting rules) for the
fox to be thrown alive to the waiting hounds.
AND HOW TO STOP IT....
The only way to prevent a foxhunt killing foxes is to sabotage it! The best
campaigning in the world means nothing to the thousands of foxes and other
animals that will be chased towards a violent and bloody end in the meantime.
After thirty years of practice, hunt saboteurs have become skilled in the art of
saving lives through sabotage. The tactics can be basic, and learned after a
morning's explanation, or more complicated, but all can be mastered in a season
The tactics themselves range from spraying scent maskers to disguise the
scent line of the hunted fox; to imitating the huntsman's voice and horn calls
to get control of the hounds; to sitting on a fox earth to prevent a dig-out. A
personal stereo linked to a small amplifier and loud hailer (nicknamed a
'gizmo') can be used to play tape recordings of the hounds in cry to encourage
them away from foxes and towards sabs.
You don't have to be super fit, or know every tactic inside out to come
sabbing and save lives. All any hunt saboteur needs to do is recognise that
hunts are killing wildlife now and want to do everything they can to stop them.
SOME ARGUMENTS AGAINST FOXHUNTING�:
90% of agricultural land is used for crops, beef and dairy farming. The
fox's diet of rabbits and rats actually makes it an asset to most farmers. A
1996 MAFF booklet stated that only 0.4% of lambs that die do so due to
accidents, dog attacks, and all other animal predation (including being taken
by foxes). Besides, efforts at control are useless as the fox regulates its
own population and is a territorial animal. This means that if one fox is
killed another soon moves into its place from a surrounding area.
There are numerous cases where hunts have provided artificial earth's and
stick piles to encourage foxes to breed to provide 'sport'. One hunt master
openly compared breeding foxes for hunting to 're-stocking a trout stream'!
The hunters privately admit that they do not hunt to 'control a pest'. A
10 year Oxford University study found that only half of the Hunt Masters
questioned mentioned fox control as any justification for their 'sport'. 82%
claimed that the hunt's main role was as 'a recreational and social force
embodying a traditional rural pastime'.
Every part of a foxhunt is cruel; from the chase, to the dig-out; to the
kill. A US Agricultural report compared physiological stress responses in
foxes pursued for 5 minutes then killed by dogs (most foxhunts pursue their quarry for
far longer) and foxes caught by leg-hold (gin) traps for 2-8 hours. The study
showed that foxes caught by dog and in leghold traps showed equivalent
responses to stress even though the time spent being chased was far shorter
than the time caught in the traps. Leg-hold traps are so barbaric, have been
banned in Britain for thirty years.
There is no 'nip to the back of the neck' in hunting. Lead hounds will
snap at any part of the running fox, before the pack rip it to pieces. If the
fox outwits the hunt and gets to ground, then it will be forced to fight with
terriers for hours before being hauled out and, if lucky, shot.
Cubhunting is best described by the late 10th Duke of Beaufort "It is
essential that hounds should have their blood up and learn to he savage with
their fox before he is killed".