Reflecting on My First Year

Posted: January 16, 2018 in Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Something a little different for this blog post.

Becoming involved in the protection of wildlife through direct action can be a big step. I remember my first sab quite clearly and well, the rest as they say is history but I thought it may be interesting to get a newbies perspective after their first year on the front line against the hunters. So here it is, over to Titch . . .

I write this guest piece for MoreThanJustBadgers to mark a personal anniversary. Last Saturday was a year to the day since I first sabbed a fox hunt with my local group.
Before then, I was sat comfortably in my bubble of naivety. I had voted in the general election of 2001 guided by the prospect of a Hunting Act, having seen it pass into law I had thought that was that. Not until the Hunt Saboteurs Association managed to get into my twitter feed at the end of 2016, did I realise any differently.

Within a fortnight I was joining up with associates in the cause of animal welfare, learning the ways and language of the hunt, as well as the real reason for keeping your distance from heavily set, self-appointed, amateur ‘stewards’ (I’d have written something far less polite – Ed).

Over this past year I have been privileged to have campaigned and taken part in direct action against fox hunts, mink hunts, wild bird shoots and badger culling. I’ve witnessed untold numbers of animals escape with their freedom under the watch of sabs, and I have also sadly seen the deaths of some unfortunate creatures too. I’ve worked with people from the length and breadth of the UK, as well as activists from Europe too.

I learned that being vegan alone was not enough. Simply not taking part, allows horrors to be committed against animals week in week out. Compassionate and thoughtful people are needed to take a stand, to prevent what acts of cruelty they can, and to shine a light on what they can’t.

titch 1

The sun sets on another successful sab.

During the year I have been punched, kicked, threatened with weapons, driven at by quads and various 4×4’s, informed that I am going to be arrested, beaten up or even killed. I’ve seen friends beaten, bloodied, whipped and even arrested. I’ve spent time in muddy fields and wading streams, as well as in police interview rooms giving statements. Hunt sabbing has been exhilarating, as well as at times dangerous, but ultimately always rewarding and worthwhile.

The one constant throughout my first year of activism has been the unwavering attitudes of hunters. Every week they assemble, 11am sharp wearing the same dated outfits and following the same tired routines. They profess to be continuing their tradition, but in reality this is a rut. An endless cycle of pretence and theatrics constructed to deny the advance of time and sensibility. The same tired clichés are heard, “we’re hunting within the law, you antis spray hounds with acid and pull children off horses”, and so on. After attending a shade under 40 hunts in my first year, I have not once witnessed a trail being laid.

Policing has been variable at best. With some notable exceptions, most police officers have been content to turn their back on any reports of illegality by organised hunts, in favour of preserving public order. Of course, from a police officer’s point of view, thirty smartly dressed people riding horses in a field is perfectly good ‘public order’. Hunt sabs turning up and making a scene immediately brings that precious public order into question and on go the blue lights.

Will I still be sabbing this time next year? Almost certainly so. In five years? It’s certainly a possibility given the speed of change this country. Any further that that only time, and the House of Commons and future governments, will tell . . .

Comments
  1. Yvonne Day says:

    Well done for a brilliant year of commitment, and thank you.

  2. Janet Humphrey says:

    This was a really interesting blog. I have always been against hunting but l never realised the full extent of the nastiness of the people that do it. I was also unaware that despite the ban they just rode roughshod over the law. It was not until I began to read posts like this that, over the last six months, I realised how much cruelty still goes on. I was also unaware of the cavelier attitude that some of these people have towards their own animals and that in some cases horses and Hounds were just tools of the trade. Hare coursing is something else I find totally abhorrent. Well done sabs.

  3. Elaine Tavner says:

    Huge admiration…..I live in a stag-hunting and fox-hunting area and am sickened by the routine killing and cruelty. I really hope the tide of public opinion is turning and one day we’ll be free of the whole ghastly hunting scenario.

  4. Sally-Ann Kingham says:

    Well done. You are all very brave.

  5. Samantha Piper says:

    Thank you for this well written peice. Thank you for all you have done and will do for our beautiful wildlife. X

  6. Well done… you are very brave…the hunt are now employing thugs to harm the Sabs…and they are violent themselves. I tried disrupting hunts when I was young..but unfortunately not many people knew..or cared..what went on. I am too old to sab now but I’m with you all the way in spirit.
    You are amazing people and I just can’t thank…or praise..you enough.
    Absolute heroes all of you ! 😊

  7. annicariad says:

    I’m 64 now, with the attendant aches and pains that age brings, along with asthma and various breathing difficulties, so I’d be of no use in t,he field. My action against hunting involves the odd financial contribution (I dream of coming into incredible wealth and donating 4x4s, Go-Pros and vast sums of petrol money!) and risking the time to say a huge THANK YOU to people like yourselves who risk life and limb to protect wildlife. I’m so happy that there are humans like yourselves to fight for what is right against the archaic and brutal huntsmen. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. 🐺❤️️🐺

  8. Dave says:

    Nice one mate. I was sabbing way back in the ’80’s…Leeds sabs and York sabs mainly. Pretty much knew that we’d be facing violence and aggression from the hunt, their supporters, the terrier men and the police every time we were out in the field. I remember falling out of bed ridiculously early in the morning to get on the van….no mobile phones back then! ….We used CB Radio to keep in touch..as did the hunt lot….so always a lot of witty banter back and forth if they found our channel. I was pretty much a kid back then and my stomach used to churn before the adrenalin kicked in. Always fights, always agro and loads of arrests to get us out the way with no charges ever brought.
    Hunting was still legal back then so the police could more blatantly support the scum. We were often bloodied and bruised… but sometimes gave as good as we got. Thought we had a bit of a victory when hunting with hounds was “banned”…..Sad that you lot still have to do this in this day and age. Good luck to you and keep safe!

  9. I admire you sabs so much all what you lot go through with the hunting fraternity.as we all know it’s against the law .yet it still goes on we all know they don’t trail hunt that’s just another lie to cover up what they are really doing.and the police are just turning a blind eye to it all.the terrier men hunters and their cronies are all law breakers and aggressive thugs

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