Fox hunting seems a small matter to
overseas visitors but for the British
it is a national obsession. When
Prince William chose to go hunting in 1999, it
many who saw his mother, Princess Diana, as a champion against
cruel sports. But to others William’s actions gave support to a
part of British life in danger of being
Fox hunting is the
of a wild fox with a
hounds. The hunters
-usually called the field- normally
ride on horses, and include the
whippers-in and the hunt
followers. The hunt followers are controlled by a ‘Field
It is his job to make sure that the hunt followers, or
‘field’, are kept far enough away so that the hounds can do
Riders wear traditional costume. Black boots, white or khaki
a white collarless shirt, a white
stock and a coat. Only the huntsman and the hunt staff are
allowed to wear red coats.
Everyone else must wear black. There is even an order to the
number of buttons on the coat. Huntsmen and whippers-in have
five buttons, field masters have four, and hunt followers have
There are normally 30 to 40 hounds in a hunting pack,
traditionally counted as 15 to 20 ‘couples’. They are bred
for speed, intelligence, and ‘nose’ – their ability to
scent of a fox.
Nine years of age is considered old for a hound. When they can
hunt no more, they are
Hounds do not make good pets.
Each hunt has its own special area called the hunt country. The
hunt meets at an agreed place, often a country pub, and moves
off to a
draw, a particular woodland or
place where foxes are likely to be found.
When the hounds smell a fox, they will chase it until they lose
it or they catch it. If they catch it, the fox’s life is over
in seconds. Critics of hunting say the chase is cruel, although
most admit that the fox is not left to suffer. Supporters of
hunting say that normally it is sick foxes that are caught,
while the healthy ones escape.
Those who support hunting say that
foxes kill chickens, wild birds,
unnecessarily. Foxes, they say, can live well on a diet of small
wild mammals, insects and worms. They estimate that up to 5% of
lambs are lost to foxes. Some people also argue that if hunting
is outlawed, landowners will
the woodland where foxes live, and so destroy the home of many
other wild creatures.
However it seems that the end is near for hunting. While many
country people support it, many townspeople think it is
unnecessarily cruel and are against it. The majority of voters
live in towns in Britain, and so do the people who make the
laws. Soon, the 16,000 people who are employed in hunting will
have to look for other jobs.