Letter: Is the hunt antique pageantry or sentimental sadism?

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I NEVER thought I would actually see a properly independent (I mean an intellectually, or dare I say philosophically, unbiased) article about hunting in the Independent on Sunday. Let alone one by Roger Scruton.

I subscribe to your paper and I have often regretted it. Your stance on hunting has, for a long time, been thoroughly biased, often offensively so to someone who cares about animals and who has a good conscience about how death should happen in the field. There has, of course, been the odd article by the likes of Jilly Cooper and Duff Hart-Davis that showed the other side, that is the country side, or an appreciation of the possibility of a different view point.

I love this country and have chosen to live in it, one of the main reasons being hunting. Roger Scruton expresses my feelings extremely well. I actually feel privileged to be able to partake of this sport in this still wonderful country, to be allowed to ride over people's land (something I do not take for granted) and to see the countryside from the back of a wonderful and generous creature who does actually partake of the pleasure and excitement of the sport.

Should hunting go, the look and feel of this country will change irremediably. Hedges and spinneys, kept as breeding ground for wild animals, will go, and the appearance of the land will be at least as distressed as it was by the disappearance of the elm. This is not just a romantic view, it is an ecological one, as well. People whose only concern is for the "welfare" of foxes and deer do not see the paradox hunting people live: that the welfare of his quarry is the hunter's prime concern, and that sport properly conducted is geared to ensuring the welfare of the quarry species. Without sentimentality.

I would like to quote a text that I believe is the creed of sincere sportsmen. "Sport may be defined as the fair, difficult, exciting, perhaps dangerous, pursuit of any animal, who has the odds in his favour, whose courage, strength, speed or cunning are more or less a match for or superior to our own, whose natural instinct engages a considerable amount of our intelligence to overcome it, and whose death, being of service, is justifiable" (Badminton Library - Moor and Marsh, 1887).


Doulting Beacon, Somerset