Henry: Master of Fox Hounds in the West Country: 'We're killing as many foxes as ever'

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The Independent Online

During the autumn, we pretend we're on hound exercise; now the season's begun properly, we say it's drag hunting. But that's total rubbish. It's business as usual. We are killing almost as many foxes as ever.

I would say we are now bagging 25 brace in a season, all of them illegally. Someone always carries a duster and some oil in their pocket, so we say we're drag hunting but I haven't actually laid a trail for more than a year. Before the ban came in, we'd kill 35 foxes in a season. Now it's slightly less. The reason is we are no longer digging foxes that have gone on the high moor, which is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. We don't want to embarrass them.

Among the other hunts, a small minority are behaving themselves, particularly those who use National Trust or Forestry Commission land, and can't afford to lose their licences to go there. The other 95 per cent are breaking the law big time. In fact, everybody is getting a bit reckless, and I wouldn't be surprised if people start getting caught.

Recently, the police had a quiet word, saying basically be careful and we'll leave you alone. The only time they'll really crack down is if there's trouble with 'antis' and someone gets thumped. Public order, rather than fox welfare, is their main concern.