This week hunting has once again made the national headlines. Two masters of the prestigious Quorn Hunt have been sacked following the HSA’s exposé that they organised a ‘birthday hunt’ for one of their masters back in March.
Yes, while the rest of us were observing lockdown, multi-millionaire Joss Hanbury and his mates were out hunting foxes. Cruelty, criminality, and an utter contempt for others: it is hard to imagine a more grievous self-inflicted wound for hunting.
Indeed, after the media storm surrounding the leaked Hunting Office webinars – which exposed trail hunting as a ‘smokescreen’ – what the hunters really needed to do was keep their heads down.
And the national lockdown would provide the perfect opportunity to do this, right?
For starters, lockdown meant that hunts were deprived of the colourful Boxing Day spectacle they put on for the public. Instead, ITV’s Boxing Day news showed the grim reality behind the pageantry: an absolutely sickening video of the Kimblewick Hunt hunting a fox as they trespassed through an industrial estate earlier in December. The footage ends with a hunter encouraging the hounds to attack the poor fox’s lifeless body. It is not hard to imagine what the great British public – relaxing at home in the season of peace and goodwill – made of these images.
Just weeks later, the HSA obtained equally damning footage of Nottinghamshire’s Grove & Rufford Hunt. It shows the lengthy attempts of two hunt employees to frighten a fox from its refuge using drainage rods and terriers. Yet again, the HSA conclusively proved that trail hunting is a ‘smokescreen’ for the cruel and illegal hunting of foxes.
On the 12th February, the Hunting Office webinars returned to the national news when Mark Hankinson, Director of the Masters of Fox Hounds Association, was charged with offences under the Serious Crimes Act 2007. His trial is set for September.
Two days later, West Sussex Hunt Sabs received the best possible Valentine’s gift: the news that their local pack – the Crawley & Horsham Hunt – are to merge with a neighbouring hunt. This exceptionally violent hunt has waged a decades-long campaign – using paid stewards, psychotic thugs, and even a failed injunction – against indefatigable local sabs. They will not be missed.
Mid-February saw the emergence of yet more covert footage demonstrating the blatant criminality of hunting. This time, South Yorkshire’s Barlow Hunt were filmed using terriers to flush a fox from an active badger sett during a fox cub hunt. When their attempts fail, the terriermen content themselves with preventing other hunted fox cubs from entering the sett by blocking it with their spades.
Hunting was back in the national news in early March when the Cornwall’s Western Hunt were caught savaging a cat to death while on ‘exercise’. As if this outrage were not bad enough, the huntsman then threw the much-loved family pet over a fence in an effort to conceal his crime.
March ended with our Quorn exposé which caused yet another media sensation and has led directly to the recent sackings.
In a normal year, we’d be out in the fields saving foxes from the hunt. Of course, this is anything but a normal year; but we’ve still managed to rub salt into the hunters self-inflicted wounds!