Letter: Glorious hunting traditions: rudeness and broken hedges

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is hard to remember when I have read so much pretentious rubbish as that written by your correspondents from Chalfont St Giles and Canada about foxhunting (letters; 25 January, 1 February). My personal experience of foxhunting goes back to the early 1920s when my family relocated from a mixed farm in Worcestershire to an all-pasture dairy farm in the Vale of Aylesbury.

At that time there were in our vicinity no less than three packs of fox hounds, a drag hunt and a stag hunt which pursued a stag carted in for the purpose. The stag was not hunted to death, but recaptured and carted away until required for the chase again. There were also harriers who hunted hares from horseback and beagles who hunted hares on foot. The whole ghastly collection were in the main the most ill-mannered, arrogant assembly of humans I have encountered in a long and diverse life.

They believed that they had the God-given right to ride, run or walk over anyone's property and to push their horses through hedges, leaving gaps for stock to escape, not to mention the damage the hooves of their mounts caused to the pasture. They rarely closed a gate.

Our part of the vale was farmed by small farmers. The majority of them held the hunt in contempt. But it was wise to keep your feelings to yourself. There were those who supported the hunt who were wealthy and influential and any farmer who openly opposed the hunt would soon find that life could become very difficult.

As for the fox, in those days of mainly free-range poultry it was regarded by most practical country folk as destructive vermin. The most effective way of dealing with a predatory fox is to shoot or trap it. Any farmer who did that in hunting country would soon find that life would become impossible. Nevertheless foxes did get killed covertly and there would be a few sly grins amongst those in the know when a dead fox turned up full of shotgun pellets.


Hunstanton, Norfolk