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19th March 2012

The Reality Of Repeal

Before the ban on hunting with hounds, abuse of wildlife in the name of sport was widespread and serious. Nowadays, although the abuse sadly still continues, I’ve detected a scaling down of the worst excesses when the hunting fraternity think they’re being watched.

For instance, reports from a Hunt in the south-east are typical; a pack of foxhounds is taken for a glorified dog walk on Saturdays but it’s in the week that hunting live quarry occurs. According to sources, they’ve even resorted to the formerly common practice of ‘bagging’ foxes. This means that a fox is captured beforehand and tipped out of a sack for the dogs to chase. Such an unfortunate fox was referred to as a Bagman. Often a Bagman would have his paws cut first. It made the scent stronger and easier for hounds to follow. A kill was assured, thus keeping the pack ‘in blood’ (meaning, familiar with and keen for the taste of fox).

I believe that the ban on hunting with hounds is a good thing even though the law is definitely not perfect. Some Hunts pack up and go home as soon as anyone they don’t trust pulls out a camera. Others move off to remote land which is difficult for outsiders to access. There are Hunts that carry on regardless but I promise you that what I see nowadays is far less free & easy compared with the couldn’t-give-a-damn attitude of the tally-ho brigade when hunting was still legal pre-February 2005. The Hunting Act is a radical step in the right direction which needs enforcing and reinforcing.

However, as long as the bloodsports community remains “ready for repeal” no one should be complacent.

News of a horrific incident filtered back to me recently on the rural grapevine;

A hunted fox had taken shelter in a hollow between some big tree roots. The hounds were unable to scratch him out and the hunters couldn’t dig him out either. So a noose was fashioned out of barbed wire, hooked around the terrified animal and used to drag him into the open. To save on bullets the live fox was thrown into the air and landed amid the scrum of hungry dogs. A landworker, not actually following the hunt, witnessed this. He’s too afraid to speak out in public for fear of losing his job.

An ex-plumber friend of mine became so incensed when he learnt the shocking truth behind hunting’s glossy façade that he infiltrated Westcountry stag hunts to document and film this so-called sport. Being hunted with hounds is horribly demanding for the deer.

This was the end of one stag hunt which the ex-plumber told me about; “An exhausted stag ran into a private garden. I was on foot and could see flashes of the huntsman’s red coat through a hedge. He had a gun and was looking for the stag to shoot it. All of a sudden, crashing through the hedge, came this stag. He ran for about 25 feet and stood in a clump of overgrown brambles. He was very tired at this stage and couldn’t really move much more. Half a dozen people suddenly appeared and somebody was shouting for the gun. Eventually the man with the gun turned up and the stag was shot. The stag dropped to the ground right in front of me.

“Then, after a second, it stood up again. Very, very slowly. Almost like a cat which has been in a deep sleep and is waking up, it arched its back and stretched its legs deliberately. I thought they’d have to shoot it again but they didn’t. Instead, the stag was led by hands on its antlers and body up a slope. Somebody actually said, ’Let it walk.’ And do you know why they did this?

“The reason they let it walk up and out was so they didn’t have to carry the body up the slope. When they got close to the road they crushed it to the ground again and shot it a second time.

“One of the men turned to me and said, ’That wasn’t right.’ I thought he had also been shocked by this incident, but that wasn’t what he meant. You see, there were anti-hunt monitors out that day with cameras who were nothing to do with me. The man said that he meant this sort of thing should be done carefully and out of sight.”

Legalising this kind of depraved cruelty would be the reality of repealing the Hunting Act. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

Posted by Joe Hashman

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6 Comments | Leave a comment

  • Ayumi says:
    Posted March 21, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Magnificent! (As usual. 😛 )

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  • Phil Cooper says:
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Hunting must never again be legalised in this nation of ours that is claimed by so many to be “a nation of animal lovers”, it contradicts it completely

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  • Reece says:
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 9:28 am

    In most cases, the hunts are responsible and animals are killed with minimal suffering. The animals are killed instantly with a bite to the back of the head, and there is no chance of a wounded fox escaping, unlike some other methods of control. Any problems with cruelty are problems with individual hunts are it is certainly not the norm. Hunting itself is not “depraved cruelty”. I hate the minority od people who do hunting like that because it gives decent hunters (the majority) a bad name in the eyes of the public.

    A minority of people do treat animals cruelly but these people would have been prosecuted anyway even without the hunting act.
    The “depraved cruelty” you mention would not at all be legalised by repealing the hunting act. It was already illegal before the act came into force.
    These laws were sufficient as long as they were enforced. Any cases of cruelty before the act were a result of problems with enforcing the law, not problems with the law itself.

    The hunting act has nothing to do with animal welfare because in most cases the animals are killed quickly, in a matter of seconds. The animal welfare charge is unfounded. The hunting act is actually based around prejudice and a desire of some corrupt MPs to settle old political scores such as the miners’ strike, which some anti-hunting MPs admitted to. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

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    • Joe says:
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:27 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to write your comments Reece. I’m afraid that my experience of hunting with hounds, first hand and in the field, is that the instant kill with a bite to the back of the head that you describe is open to debate. As for the Hunting Act itself – the spirit of it is clear and easy to understand. That folk choose to get round it in ways which may or may not be strictly legal is inevitable I suppose. Today’s guilty verdict from the Crawley & Horsham is good news for those of us who support this piece of legislation. It could be that in life we share much common ground but on the merits of the Hunting Act we’ll have to agree to differ.

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    • Gillian Hobley says:
      Posted June 17, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      The cruelty is NOT ameliorated by a quick kill because the animal has been mercilessly chased, harrassed and terrified before hand.

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    • Shelagh Carter says:
      Posted June 17, 2016 at 9:57 pm

      “Decent hunters” is an oxymoron.

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