HINTS AND TIPS

WHERE TO FIND DETAILS OF YOUR LOCAL HUNTS

Look in a copy of Baileys Hunting Directory - this can usually be found in your local reference library. This will give you the hunting area of every hunt, hunt staff details and their phone numbers.

WHERE DO THEY ADVERTISE THEIR MEETS?

    Under hunting appointments in Horse and Hound every Thursday (check out any large newsagents)

    In some local newspapers.

    In fixture list sent by hunt secretaries to subscribers and "interested" persons.

    On some pub notice boards.

    At Stables and Riding Schools.

    Ring the kennels, and say you want to follow the hunt. (It sometimes works)

LOCATION

If you are unsure of the position of a small village meet, your local reference library will usual be very helpful and will often have maps at different scales. If possible photocopy or make a drawing of the area around the meet with particular reference to footpaths, commons, any non-private land, animal sanctuaries, motorways and railways. Also look out for likely hunting areas (in the case of fox hunts, small coverts). If possible, farm boundaries would also be of great assistance if you are ordered off any land. It is also handy to have any telephone numbers of members of the hunt if they do not show up at the expected meet. However, have a good story in case they ask any awkward questions. For example tell them you and a friend are from abroad and want to see a real English hunt.

Note - Some groups suggest attending a hunt as an observer before sabbing. This will give you an insight into the workings of the hunt involved. The decision to observe or sab the first time is purely down to the individual. If you are late or lose the hunt scout around the area. Horse boxes, country folk gazing across fields, fresh horse droppings on the road, hoof mark and paw prints in muddy gateways or a large number of cars by the side of the road usually mean the hunt is nearby. Supporters' cars are sometimes identifiable by car stickers on display in the car such as the British Field Sports Society sticker shown.

 

DRESS

It is often a great advantage to look like a hunt follower and thus gain information on the likely course of the days hunting or future meets. Obviously, it may not be possible to stay undercover indefinitely or on subsequent occasions, but hunt follower type clothes will assist in avoiding detection.

Therefore, do not wear bright clothes, if possible find dull green or brown jackets ( wax jackets are usually the best) or camouflage jackets. Also, dull trousers or breeches with thick socks and strong boots (these will help to protect your ankles from injury), wellies are also good in wet or muddy weather. A cap or hat may be worn for added effect or to hide long hair. BFSS badges may also be worn when necessary.

ARTICLES TO TAKE ON A SAB

    Scent Dullers - Bob Martins "Antimate" in aerosol cans from pet shops and chemists are ideal for immediate spraying after a hunted animal has passed or to destroy a scent in a small area. These can easily be concealed while you are at the hunt. Alternatives include garlic powder in a hot water solution, which can be made a few days before the meet, or crushed garlic cloves mixed during the summer and left to mature will provide a strong scent duller, other alternatives are Citronella or Eucalyptus oils, which you add to large amounts of water (then use as explained later in this booklet). Small garden hand sprays can be used as handy dispensers.

    Never spray any substance on the hounds, horses, or supporters.

    False Trails - In general these have produced mixed results. However, if you do discover an effective method please inform us.

    Hunting horns - these are essential - They can be obtained from your local group. Cotswold hunting horns are the most effective and can be used on all types of hunting. The pitch of the horn may vary from hunt to hunt. Typical horn calls and their meanings are available on a tape from your local group.

    O.S. Maps - 1:50,000 can be bought at stationers or borrowed from libraries. These are vital for information on the local area, in order to sab effectively. 1:25,000 maps will show more detail.

    Whips - The whip is used to control the hounds if they are rioting after an animal other than the intended quarry or to stop hounds going onto roads, railways etc. (see page 5 for further details)

    Whistles - These are often very useful if you can't blow a horn, they will make the hounds look up. (some hunts that are regularly sabbed are now relying on whistles and voice calls) A whistle is also very effective on shoots to scare off the birds.

    For clearing hares from coursing areas use horns, rockets, rags on string, flags and fertiliser sacks.

    If possible take these following articles with you:- camera, or if possible a video camera, notebook and pen and some loose change. These can be invaluable at times.

    Materials for tying up gates e.g. chains and padlocks (to be used at discretion where this can be done safely without putting any animals at risk).

    Rook Scarers (Rookies) To be used for pre-meet clearance of woods or at hare coursing events to scare away the hares. (always take great care when using rook scarers).

    Banners for demos - avoid pointed ends (offensive weapons).

    C.B. Radios or Walkie Talkies - these can be of great use when used correctly. They generally have a range of between 1 - 7 miles depending on the terrain.

    Mobile Phone - This is great for those very elusive hunts, and those early morning cubbing meets (used by a person in a car following a horsebox/supporter). It is also a great means of getting in touch with someone in an emergency, and can be used to great effect as a contact number.

    Diesel/Petrol money - without this the van will not be going anywhere (usually 2).

    Contact Number - This is a number which is used to keep in touch with other groups, vans or if people have get lost or arrested. It can also be used to ring through new meets.(always have a contact number)

    A solicitors number, just in case you do get arrested.

WARNINGS

    When drawing hounds over by using holloas or hunting horns, ensure:

      that you are not bringing the hounds near or over a railway line, busy road or away from a false trail.

      that there are no hunted animals between you and the hounds (obvious but important).

    Remember the Country Code.

    Do not take any action that may harm the horses or hounds. Be careful not to frighten the horses at a banner demo.

    Avoid tactics that do not directly help the hunted animal, such as interfering with supporters cars etc.

    If the hunted animal is heading towards you, stand perfectly still and quiet until it has passed. Any noise or movement may scare it back towards the hunt.

    Never point if you see a fox, hare etc. as the hunt might not have seen this particular animal, and may come over to where you pointed at to try and find the line. If you do see the hunted animal, just let other sabs know quietly and discreetly.

    When using rookies, check to see there is no risk of fire by using only in evergreens, also keep away from bridleways and public rights of way.

    If there are a lot of sabs, then keep tightly together in the field. A long line of sabs may prevent the quarry from fleeing and flush the animal back into the hounds. Avoid running noisily towards the hunt for the same reasons. Also when on a shoot, always keep very tight together or you will just act as another beat line and flush the birds towards the guns.

    If the hounds "put up", that is flush out a quarry, do not rush in if there is a risk of turning the animal back into the pack. Remember the hunt will want a chase, they will not wish to "chop" the quarry, that is kill it without a chase. So if at the inception of the hunt you are badly positioned, have patience and try to reach a better place to intervene and to use sabotage tactics.

    Under no circumstances wilfully injure or attempt to injure any hunt animal, be it horse, hound or terrier and take extreme care when driving near hunt animals. Anyone who does not consider the welfare of hunt animals has no place within a sab group.

    Do not place a hunted animal at risk in the field. The first priority is always the life of the hunted animal. The second is the effective sabbing of the hunt. Do not confuse the two. Poor tactics could turn the hunted animal back into the pack. If the quarry or other animal passes by, freeze until it has passed by you, then take the appropriate action.

    Do not spray the hounds with any substances, no matter how safe they may be.

    A red ribbon or bow on the tail of a horse means that it is liable to kick.

CONFRONTATIONS

Violent hunt reactions may occur but do not go out expecting them. The following points should be noted:-

    If at all possible, avoid direct confrontation with riders and supporters. Always remember that the primary reason for your presence is to save the hunted animal. Such sideline distractions usually serve only to help the hunt get ahead.

    If a rider is chasing you it helps to have a safe escape route planned, e.g. over a fence or into a thick wood.

    Sabs should always stick together, as a straggler is an easy target for a hunt thug.

    If there is trouble, take any injured sabs to hospital for confirmation of injuries. This is essential if there is to be a court case. Such incidents should also be recorded for sab records - pass any details to you group contact.

    Any violent incidents should ideally kept track of, for future legal action may rely on a well kept record of such incidents.

    Take written notes of any incidents as soon as possible after the event. Get names and addresses of witnesses, photographs where possible (or description) of the people causing the trouble, and any vehicle registration numbers of the people involved.

    Report the incident to the police as soon as possible after the event. (As the longer you leave it the more chance the people involved will have time to make their getaway).

ELUSIVE HUNTS

Some hunts do not advertise and others go to great lengths to give sabs the slip (often giving much needed support the slip into the bargain). They may stop advertising their meets (this will lose them money) or even change their meet at the last moment ( this will lose them supporters). In such cases the following tactics may be used :-

    Kennel watching - vigilant watching at a good vantage point to the kennels can prove to be invaluable. Get the address from Baileys Hunting Directory. The hunt will soon get wise to this trick and thus you may have to switch your attentions to the house/vehicle of a regular supporter or hunt official. If this is not possible road watching is always an alternative - try staking out main roads in the hunts country and follow any known horse boxes or hunt vehicles (for this reason an up-to-date vehicle list of the hunt in question is essential and should be carried at all times).

    If they were due to meet at a pub but are not there, ring up and ask the pub for the alternative meet. Alternatively ring the kennels or hunt secretary, but have a good story ready. Phone numbers can be obtained from Baileys or phone directories.

    If a number a sabs are searching for the hunt then good communications are essential. If all vehicles have C.B.'s then they can split off in order to cover different areas, if not try to work out a rendezvous point on a road circuit, or decide to ring the contact number at agreed times to pass on any information. Maps, and the ability to read them are essential when relying locations over the C.B.'s or phone. The contact should try and have the relevant maps if possible.

    Contacts within the hunt can prove to be an invaluable source of information. Better still, and increasingly necessary, is the need to encourage non-active yet keen and knowledgeable antis to infiltrate their local hunts. Allow them time to establish themselves in the hunt to gain the hunts confidence before acting on any information they are liable to pass on.

Note - An infiltrator can often supply information on neighbouring hunts and on the darker side of hunt supporters activities i.e. badger baiting and the like.

HUNT REPORTS AND FIXTURE LISTS

(Fixture list = place, date and time of hunt meet)

These can prove useful in many ways. Firstly comparisons of several years worth of fixture lists for one hunt may show up a consistent pattern for some meets which enables sabs to plan for these meets with a fair degree of certainty, and of course if the hunt stops advertising you can still predict where they will be on special occasions. Fixture lists may also, if plotted on a large map of the hunt country show up areas where the hunt tends to concentrate its activities - again useful if the hunt should stop advertising. Lawn meets are the addresses of hunt supporters.

Hunt reports, (often found in Horse and Hound), record the names of hosts of the meets. They also describe (with much exaggeration) the routes taken by the hunt during the course of the days hunting. Reports of such routes are often applicable for that meet next year and thus can provide a guide-line to what the hunt is likely to do, greatly assisting pre-meet work. (However do not rely on them entirely).

INFORMATION GATHERING

1. Names, addresses and photographs of hunt supporters.

These are useful for two reasons. Firstly when hunts are not advertising (especially during cubbing), sabs can wait outside the homes of regular hunt supporters (terrier men, Masters and hunt officials are the most useful), and hopefully follow them to the meet.

Secondly, knowing hunt supporters by name and face is obviously useful if the need arises to report violence to the police, and knowing their names and addresses increases the chance of you taking effective action against them. Open files on any prominent hunter. Include in them any comments made by them to the press and any misdemeanour they resort to.

2. Vehicle lists

These are useful when spotting hunt vehicles on main roads in the hunt country when meets are not advertised or when you have lost the hunt. A vehicle which is regularly out with the hunt probably contains a driver who knows where the hunt is likely to be. Try to identify vehicles belonging to hunt heavies and terrier men and also those belonging to hunt officials.

3. Local newspapers

These often carry stories of hunt events, supporters photographs and events. Building up a dossier on a hunt allows instant recall of these events, and can prove useful when the media calls you for a comment on a recent event.

4. Hit reports

These should be completed as soon as possible after a sab. They should include information gathered during the sab. Where the hunt went, what it did, what went wrong, who was there and a list of vehicles at the meet. Try to attach a map to the back showing the route the hunt took.

5. Most important

Copies of all material and photographs (no matter how seemingly insignificant) should be sent to both the HSA and the local group via the P.O. Box or handed to somebody in the group you know. This will then be included in the relevant hunt files for future reference should a new group need it. Information is most useful when shared amongst other sabs.

TRANSPORT

Some points to note. Some of this may seem obvious, but you never know!

    If driving make sure you have a full tank of petrol/diesel before you start.

    A locking petrol cap, tyre pump and spare tyre are essential, in case hunt heavies decide to have a go at your vehicle.

    Check that the insurance, MOT, tax etc. are up to date as the police sometimes spot check sabs cars/vans at hunts. Never take vehicles out that aren't legal as you are bound to be stopped by the police.

    Remove all "give away" car stickers that identify the car as that of a sab. This is obviously of limited use if you are attending a hunt where you are well known or if you're driving a battered transit with a dozen crusties piling in and out every two seconds.

    Always leave someone to look after the vehicles. Unattended vehicles often invite "interference" from hunt supporters.

    Always look at your maps to identify exactly where you are at any give time, and beware of dead end roads/lanes/tracks.

    Try to avoid being blocked in by supporters cars. If blocked in, stay calm, and if you have a C.B. use it to alert others to your situation and/or instruct them to avoid the area.

    Use a British Field Sports Society car sticker to your advantage if necessary.

GENERAL TIPS

    When in woods keep an eye out for traps and snares and act accordingly. Also when walking around the fields/coverts keep an eye out for blocked earths, and unblock them, it might be the fox's only escape route.

    Never bring hounds near major roads or railways.

    Opening meets of Foxhounds (1st November or thereabouts) and Boxing Day meets attract large crowds, so these deserve special attention. Always try and arrange a banner demo and a sab. Invite the local media. Distribute leaflets to members of the general public.

    Always take a count of sabs present so that none get left behind. Arrange rendezvous points and times

    Always try to have a central telephone number - and ensure that everybody concerned knows exactly what the number is.

    Try to have an alternative meet lined up just in case of cancellation or other factors.

    Try to arrange a meeting just prior to the sab so that everybody knows what is going on. Also exchange info on any known hunt heavies or known coverts with fox earths in or likely hunting areas etc. Study the map in relation to the above and also to the rendezvous points. It is also important to know what other local sab groups are doing as to avoid confusion.

    To press a point, make sure you are well equipped with adequate clothing, antimate, whips, horns and maps.

    The hunt will probably be out all day so be prepared to do the same. Try to have some packed food handy and a drink if you feel the need.

    A strong local group may decide to concentrate on one hunt so that all the pressure is on them and this may stop antagonism from heavies and the hunt staff alike initially. The benefits include increased knowledge of the territory and hunting routes, plus the hunt personnel become more identifiable.

    It is often worthwhile to have a debriefing session after a sab so that all the members get a chance to analyse the days events, to criticise and to give options which might prove useful in the future. Such meetings also help to build a working relationship in a group whose make up might be very diverse.

GENERAL HINTS (AFTER EACH SAB)

    If possible get everyone together after a hit to discuss any successes or failures of the day. If there have been any violent incidents get the relevant facts written down before memories fade.

    Try and keep a check on numbers and take a count at the end of the day. Try to ascertain what has happened to anyone who is missing and take appropriate action.

    Send a full report of the day's proceedings to your local group and to the HSA. You can get report forms from your local group or from the HSA office. THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. It should contain a list of hunt vehicles registration numbers and any other information you have picked up. The name and place of the meet with an O.S. reference, and an account of the route the hunt took (coverts visited etc). The number of sabs, hunters, supporters and details of any kills if verified. The hit report sheets are invaluable to both local and the national group in building up a record of hunt meets for future reference and assessing our effectiveness.

    If there are any newsworthy events, please contact your local group and the HSA's press officer immediately and without fail.