Ah, the thrill of the chase, the trail of the fox, the cars moving in for the final kill...

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The Independent Online
"Did you know that most foxes are killed not by fox-hunting or shooting, but by being run over on the road? That more foxes are run over than are culled by all other methods put together? Yes, fox-motoring is by far the best proven method of cutting down on fox numbers! And yet Parliament is even now trying to make things more difficult for us, maybe even kill the sport!"

The speaker is Bernie Purdue, who lives in Kent and has been running over foxes almost as long as he can remember. He learnt to enjoy the sport first with the hunting group known as the Faversham Shoppers, but after going out fox-motoring round about the county with different outfits, he now goes out with the London-Kent hunting group known popularly as the M25 Late Late Crowd.

"We go out four or five times a week, into London in the morning and back again in the evening.The evening is the best time for fox-motoring. Well, obviously, because that's when the fox is out. I mean, you can't get a fox if he's in his hole, can you? So we don't get many foxes in the mornings. Only reason we go out in the mornings, really, is so that we can come back in the evening. That's when the fun starts. And now they're trying to take it away from us."

Which particular measure is he thinking of? After all, they're not trying to make fox-motoring illegal, are they?

"All but, mate, all but. They're cutting back the road-building programme. They're trying to cut back on the number of cars. They're trying to cut back on the speed of cars. Worst of all, they're trying to get public transport better!"

What's wrong with that?

"What's wrong with improving public transport? Oh, come on! When did you last hear of a bus running over a fox? They're not up to it! Far too slow and unwieldy. It's only cars that can do it. But everything is being stacked against us. I mean, the new government is already urging us to slow down for Christmas. How can we get a fox if we slow down? They are telling us we can't have any more roads. How can you lure more foxes out if there aren't the roads to lure them on to?

Bernie Purdue, as he speaks, is slowly getting into what he will be wearing for his run home tonight. He'll be putting on a nondescript coat, trainers, anonymous shirt and shabby leather gloves. It's not very ... well, glamorous, is it?

"And that's another thing - people are always expecting fox-motorists to be all posh and stuck-up, wearing sheepskin jackets and smart caps, maybe even chauffeur-driven with smoky windows to keep out the gaze of the masses ...! Well, it's not like that! You'll find a real cross-section of the public out there running over foxes! Rich and poor, posh and humble. That's the glory of fox-motoring! It appeals to everyone, high or low. And if they try and wipe us out, it'll be a whole way of life gone. Do you know that the first recorded fox to be run over was in 1903, in Beckenham? How are we going to celebrate the centenary if people go on cracking down on the poor old motorist? We'll be reduced to getting the occasional hedgehog at this rate. And have you ever thought of the jobs that would be lost, all the garage and servicing and petrol-filling and bodywork repair jobs? All the simple craftsmen who depend on fox-motoring ...?"

Yes, but hold on a minute. Surely fox-motoring is a very haphazard way of eliminating foxes? And what has he got against foxes anyway?

"What have I got against...? You must be joking! Foxes are the most incredibly destructive animal. They cause the most awful damage! Paw marks all over the bodywork, scratches and bite marks on the paintwork, blood all over the place after a kill, dented panels ... you name it."

Yes, but many a motorist could go for years without even seeing a fox. So what's the point?

"It's the sport of it," says Bernie simply. "It's the exhilaration of getting out there on the open road, headlights blazing, knowing that any moment a fox might run across the road and under your wheels ..."

Might you not also get a stoat or rabbit or pheasant?

"Yes, you might," says Bernie, vsibly brightening. "Or with luck you might even get a cyclist."

They're not legitimate game, surely? Cyclists are human, aren't they?

"Matter of opinion," says Bernie. "Anyway, all I'm saying is that if you've been out for a spin and even if you haven't hit anything, you still come back feeling on top of the world. It's a tremendous feeling. You'll never know what it's like if you don't do it. Want to come for a spin? Light's fading, wildlife is coming out - we might get something ..."

I made an excuse and went back to London by train.