Wednesday, 30 December 2009

My turn - and a happy new year to you!

There are over 200 foxhunts in Britain, each hunting 2 to 4 times a week. The main season is from November until late March, although some carry on until the start of May. The hunt itself will gather in late morning, although an 'earth stopper' will have been out at dawn to block up any known fox earths, drains and badger setts, so that foxes returning from a night's foraging will be exposed above ground. The huntsman will lead the hounds to a wood or covert where there is a known earth. The hounds are sent into the wood to flush out any foxes. As all underground escape routes are blocked, the fox is forced to run to escape the hounds. Riders positioned around the wood will 'holloa' to let the huntsman know the direction the fox has run.

If the fox manages to find refuge in an un-blocked earth, the hunt employ terriermen who will put their terriers down the earth to force the fox into the open to be re-hunted, or attack the fox underground while the men dig down through the soil. Once they have dug out the fox, the terriermen are supposed to shoot it, but many will simply give it a blow with a spade. It is not unheard of for the fox to be thrown alive to the waiting hounds.

run to earth

the fox of desire
shall be flushed out with famine
but what of its mate

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