Posts Tagged ‘Berkshire Hunt Sabs’

We have an anonymous guest blog entry this week originally published by my old friends at Berkshire Hunt Sabs on their Facebook page which highlights the issue of the promotion of illegal blood sports within the higher cost echelons of the education system. This issue clearly needed some more exposure and answers some of the questions as to why certain sectors of society and blood sports go hand in hand. There’s also link for you to get involved at the end of the piece so please take a little time to voice your concerns.


As Hunt Saboteurs we are prepared to go to great lengths to stop the cruel and illegal practice of hunting with hounds. Occasionally, though, we don’t even have to venture into the fields to expose what the hunters do. North Yorkshire’s Ampleforth Beagles made our job a lot easier when they published their Spring 2017 newsletter on the official website of the Ampleforth Society…



The £34,392 a year Ampleforth College is one of Britain’s most traditional public schools, offering the benefit of an education overseen by Benedictine monks. In his welcome message on the school website, the Headmaster, Father Wulstan Peterburs, states that, “The moral principles that the boys and girls develop here act as spiritual bearings to guide them through adult life in an increasingly secular world filled with moral confusion.” However, Father Peterburs’ extravagant claims of morality are seriously undermined by his school’s active involvement in the cruel and illegal “sport” of beagling.



The Ampleforth College Beagles were formed in 1915. While the pack have now dropped the “College” from their name this is a cosmetic change only. The school maintains a “Captain of Beagling” and their official Ampleforth Society website states that “Beagling is still very much part of school life today”. Students are actively encouraged to join the hunts and, according to an article on the pack in Horse and Hound (30th March 2017), there is an ambition to “strengthen ties with the school, allowing students greater access to the hounds and the wonderful hunting that they produce.”



In their Spring 2017 newsletter the Ampleforth Beagles boast of their membership of the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles. This organisation hit the headlines in 2013 when the Hunt Saboteurs Association revealed that they intended to hold a “Young Hare Hunters Day” at Eton College (another public school with its own pack of beagles). The event was eventually cancelled but questions were asked about why the AMHB was offering training in the hunting of hares – an activity that is illegal – to vulnerable young people. Four years on, the Ampleforth Beagles inform us that the AMHB are still offering events that are “especially designed for young hare hunters”. Why does the college deem this material acceptable on its website?



Elsewhere in the Spring 2017 newsletter the huntsman, Toby Pedley (an ex-whip of the Claro Beagles) gives a detailed description of a February meet from Cote Hill, Farndale that can only be an illegal hare hunt.

Before looking at Pedley’s account, it is important to understand what hare hunting looked like before the 2004 Hunting Act. Beagles are bred to hunt hares using stamina, not speed. They kill the hare by gradually wearing it down over an extended period of time. When a hare is found it will initially be much faster than the hounds; however, as the hunt progresses the beagles’ stamina will begin to give them an advantage as the hare tires. The hare will generally run in large circles (as it is reluctant to leave its home range) and the huntsman will get involved if hounds lose the scent or start to chase another hare. Eventually, the exhausted animal will be overwhelmed by the hounds and torn to pieces. Pre-ban beagling is therefore a dynamic, fast moving activity characterised by broadly circular chases that can last anything between 30 minutes and three hours.


Pedley’s account has all of the characteristics of pre-ban beagling outlined above. It is, in fact, a textbook account of a traditional (i.e. illegal) hunt and ends, we believe, in the death of a hare in front of college students and the “captain of Beagling Ben Saunders.”


We know that, in an effort to protect its reputation, the college will claim that the event Pedley describes was a “trail hunt” (where hounds supposedly follow a pre-laid trail) and that these are the “lines” he refers to throughout. In anticipation of this claim, we ask the following questions:

(1) What substance was used to lay the trail ? It is clearly a remarkable one: it produced a “red hot” scent strong enough to sustain the keen interest of twenty-seven hounds for an hour across the very challenging terrain of the North Yorks Moors. Such a substance has never been seen in use at any other fox or hare hunt. Very, very occasionally, when hunt saboteurs are in attendance, hunts will lay a drag for a few hundred metres which is either ignored by the hounds or followed very briefly and with minimal interest. This hound activity bears no similarity whatsoever to the extensive and fast-paced hunt described by Pedley.

(2) Who laid the trail and when did they do it? Pedley’s description suggests that the hunt was approximately seven miles in length across steep, demanding terrain. Given that a pack of beagles completed this distance in about an hour, any human trail-layer must have been toiling for several hours on the moors before the meet. Additionally, this busy person must have laid other trails, as Pedley records that there were “fresh lines emerging” throughout the hunt.

(3) With countless miles of moorland at their disposal, why did the trail-layer repeatedly lay the line across the Blakey road, such that whipper-in Russell Yardley had to “stay on the road stopping traffic numerous times”? At the very least this put hounds, hunt followers (including Ampleforth students) and passing motorists in danger.

(4) Why does Pedley state that he was “delighted” to see an experienced hound stick to “the original line” when there were “fresh lines emerging”? In trail hunting the idea of an “original line” is a nonsense: one laid trail is the same as any other. Conversely, in the long-illegal activity of beagling, a hound that was able to persist in hunting the original hare when fresh hares got up in its path would be highly valued by the huntsman. “Changing hares” in pre-ban beagling was something to be avoided at all costs as it significantly reduced the chances of a kill.

(5) How did Pedley know when the “hunt had concluded”? Countryside Alliance guidance on trail hunting (published 12th December 2017) very clearly states that the huntsman “does not know exactly where the trails have been laid” so how did Pedley know it had finished? And what does “finished” even mean in the context of a trail hunt?


We believe we have shown that the Ampleforth Beagles have, by their own admission, committed illegal activities and that Ampleforth College is openly associating itself with this criminality.

However, the college and their hunt can immediately prove us wrong. All they have to do is take a genuinely independent observer onto the moors and demonstrate the process – from start to finish – of organising a “trail hunt” that exactly replicates pre-ban beagling, as Pedley’s hunt supposedly did. We set this challenge because we know it is impossible: there is no such thing as trail hunting; it is a crude and obvious deceit designed to disguise illegal hunting.


We need your help to raise these matters with Ampleforth College. Please make polite enquiries about the events at Cote Hill and the college’s active involvement with the Ampleforth Beagles. If they claim to have been trail hunting please also insist on answers to the specific questions we have asked.

01439 766000



We’re into that time of year again when the hunts once more ride out to do their cruel deeds. My Facebook feed was full of reports from the various sab groups throughout the country as they took on the hunts in their various areas on what was opening day for many. I was pleased to see that there were no kills, this was probably due to a combination of poor scenting conditions (the day was very mild and bright) and the proactive actions of sabs. My group joined up with our good friends at Berkshire Hunts Sabs and we irritated the hell out of the Old Berkshire Beagles (full report here).

Hound exercise. Yeah, OK.

Hound exercise. Yeah, OK.

As is the norm we faced the usual hostility from all those on the other side but it’s water off a ducks back to us and it’s always a good indication of your success. Whilst trying to locate the pack we happened upon a group of support, all eager of course to watch something get killed. Their reaction to us was instant and aggressive, the land owner attempted to run me over with his pickup and then tried to assault one of our female sabs, all the time hurling a torrent of four letter abuse. This was matched but another female supporter who clearly had confused moral standings and somewhat lacking in compassion (plus a few other things as well no doubt), calling me sad for not being able to read a map. Of course I knew exactly where we were and pointed out to her that the definition of sad was gaining pleasure from watching a sentient mammal being hunted to exhaustion and killed. Their reaction was exactly what we wanted, it proved we were on the right tracks and they were desperate to stop us. And sure enough we located the hunt moments later and they were forced to move off.

Careful deary you;ll blow a blood vessel.

Careful deary you’ll blow a blood vessel.

Unlike fox hunting, beagling is very difficult to cover up. Beagles aren’t really scent followers to the extent that fox hounds are and due to the smaller areas and the way the quarry (the Brown Hare) responds it’s blatantly obvious that they’re breaking the law. To counter this they are very secretive and try to hunt on private land with very little public access however we’ve never regarded such restrictions as a big issue to circumnavigate. Trespass is a civil offence and you can gain access to private property to stop a criminal offence taking place. In this instance the hunts claims of “hound exercise” were completely laughable. Why dress up in your best hunting regalia (green jackets, white plus fours and green socks) and have a number of foot supporters watching if you’re only taking the hounds for a walk? Another point to briefly note is the general age of the followers. If this is a reflection of the activity as a whole then it should die out fairly shortly.

Look at that face, years of pent up anger have left it's mark.

Look at that face, years of pent up anger have left it’s mark.

In due course the police arrived and questioned us on our activities. For once they were even handed and when they realised we weren’t terrorists and were only armed with various vegan cakes and savouries they were happy to keep an eye on things and one officer, a dog handler (3124 from Thames Valley) seemed quite keen to find the hunt and equire as to what they were up to. Here was a guy who’d worked with dogs for all of his working life and knew exactly how the breeds behaved and saw through the lies the hunt were spreading. It was just a shame he didn’t arrive earlier as by this time the hunt had pretty much called it a day and packed up. It really does make a change to be able to be reporting on decent policing, let’s hope in the coming season I can report on it more often. For our own side we’ve been making efforts to educate the police and indeed work with them so they understand who we are and what we do. I’ve had a meeting with our local Police and Crime Commissioner and a senior inspector and will next week be meeting with a wildlife crime officer from an adjoining force.

As an organisation we’re fighting a PR war as well as the direct action in the fields and part of that is dispelling the myths perpetrated by the hunts which clearly affect the judgment of the police. Now I’m fully aware that some senior officers and judicial personnel are pro-hunt and probably even ride out so I’m not expecting miracles however we’ve made a start and hopefully that will reflect on the action the police take in regards to our operations.

So from now on it’ll be a busy old time. If you feel like standing up for our wildlife now’s the time to get involved.

The lack of an update last week was largely due to once again getting clearance to use footage which is likely to be used in legal proceedings. Releasing this footage prior to the outcome will ruin any potential case against the offenders but needless to say all is in hand and we’re hopeful of a successful prosecution. For a full update of the day visit the Beds & Bucks Hunt Sabs Facebook page.

Another issue which came to light were the claims that a Huntsman from the Tedworth Hunt was kicked unconscious by sabs wielding metal bars on chains. Heavily edited and totally biased footage was aired on BBC Points West, complete with a Countryside Alliance spokesperson spouting their usual vitriol. However if you look at the complete footage compiled by Berkshire Hunt Sabs with additional comments a completely different story is clear to see.

What’s also evident by the CA releasing the footage is that they expect no action from the police on the issue otherwise they wouldn’t have released the video. The fact it was filmed by a hunt supporter and then picked up by the Daily Mail who are known to support hunting and love nothing more than printing sensationalist clap trap based on hearsay just proves this is nothing more than pro-hunt propaganda designed to fill in the cracks of their crumbling argument ahead of a general election. The simple fact is sabs face violence every week from hunts and their support. You are allowed to defend yourself and it’s pretty clear to me after watching the video the violence was instigated by the hunt or their support and they then came off second best. The so called metal bars on chains were nothing more than home made, lightweight whips sabs use for rating the hounds, hardly the pinnacle of personal defence armament.

The comments from the CA spokesperson were quite frankly laughable. Once again he tries to paint the picture of sabs being terrorists, covering their faces and leaving the towns for the countryside for a bit of a ruck and knowing nothing of countryside ways and wildlife control.

Lets break these issues down.

Face coverings. I’ve covered this before but it’s an issue which keeps arising so I’ll go over it again. Hunts and hunt support try very hard to find out who you are. They will go after you at your home or place of work. They will do all they can to discredit you, intimidate you and make you unemployable. Maintaining secrecy regarding your identity isn’t being a coward it’s sound operational security. Hunt support, especially the terrier men or the hired thungs used to protect the hunts regularly cover their faces, this is of course so it makes them difficult to identify in case they find themselves under investigation but we hear no mention of that from the CA.

Another article in the Torygraph sorry I mean Telegraph  once again claims sabs are all animal rights extremists, hard liners that are politically motivated thugs terrorising those involved in a lawful pursuit that need to be unmasked. Obviously the writer of the article, Clive Aslet is completely impartial in this but oh wait, he seems to be editor at large for Country Life, hardly a publication with nothing to gain and no doubt spurred on to write the piece by the CA as they’re obviously cosey bedfellows in this. The double standards and hypocrisy in the piece is rife to say the least. A bunch of pissed up thugs from the Royal Agricultural College trying to overturn a sab vehicle and smash their way in is nothing more than, and I quote “rosy-cheeked, well-spoken students in tweed caps behaving in a yahooish manner”. And lets not forget, despite their claims to the contrary, all were breaking the law by hunting illegally in the first place.

We’re all townies. Most sabs I know come from all walks of life, come from hugely varying backgrounds and live in both rural and urban locations. CA claims to the contrary are nothing more than ignorant bluff and bluster.

Wildlife control. Oops, the hunt in question were supposed to be drag hunting (aren’t they all) so then why is wildlife control mentioned? If you’re following a trail nothing will be hunted and killed. Seems like an admittance of illegal hunting to me and wildlife control is just a phrase designed to soften the image of killing. I also wonder if the hunt in question had any terrier men with them as they nearly always do? Those pesky trail layers, it’s amazing how they manage to go under ground in holes and badger setts. If you’re following a trail then terrier men are completely unnecessary.

Countryside ways. Once upon a time it was OK to flog your slaves, bait bears and burn witches if your crops failed. Things have thankfully moved on. They’re so called countryside ways are nothing more than an excuse for bloodthirsty sociopaths to get their jollies by watching a sentient mammal tormented and then killed in a most barbaric manner. I’ve spent my entire life in the countryside, living with and working for our native wildlife. I’d be hugely surprised if any of the hunt staff or support knew anything beyond the basics of the environment around them and the ecosystems they support.

Obviously the CA have money to burn in an attempt to win over the general population to their cause however with over 80% still in favour of a ban on hunting with hounds many of their arguments will fall on deaf ears. You only have to view the disturbing footage from last week filmed by Dorset Hunt Sabs to know that the hunts are continually breaking the law and no amount of PR and propaganda will cover up this fact. This time the hunt in question was the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale, the same hunt who almost killed a sab some months ago. Full press release from the HSA can be found here.


UPDATE: It would appear, as expected that the Tedworth footage was supplied directly by Jill Grieve, who just happens to be director of Communications for the Countryside Alliance.

First off my apologies for being a little quiet of late. This was largely due to a total hard drive failure of my PC. Unfortunately I’ve lost the majority of my video files plus a few others things which could prove to be a pain in bum. However I’m now up and running once more with a new PC rebuild complete with fetching army green case!

Of course not being able to write my blog doesn’t mean I haven’t been active in the field. Two weekends ago we hit the Old Berkeley Beagles who intended to hunt hares in the area around Marsh Gibbons. The weather was foul, but us sabs are made of fairly stern stuff and a bit of rain won’t put us off although the hunters seemed less sturdy and spent the majority of their time hiding in a rickety old barn which was full of crap. When the rain finally abated they took us on a very pleasant 7 mile walk, the only highlight being a stroppy farmer who could only throw some pretty pointless abuse in our direction.

Old Berkely Beagles

Morons in green & white. They treat their own animals pretty badly so it’s no wonder they kill for fun.

Next up we spoiled the fun of the Hursley & Hambleden who were having a joint meet with the Hampshire Hunt. As expected we had a little trouble with them as one female sab was assaulted and another racially abused. Both incidents are being investigated by the police as we have supplied video evidence for both so we hope for a successful prosecution. Once again we proved effective, taking control of the hounds at one point and splitting the pack using horn and voice calls. It was a tough day with lots of running and plenty of mud but seeing the annoyed faces of the hunters  and no wildlife killed makes it all worthwhile.

However not every sab group have been so lucky. Our friends over at West Midlands Hunt Sabs were unable to save a fox which fell victim to the bites of many hounds, literally disemboweling the poor animal. They did however manage to retrieve the body which you can see below

dead fox

I make no apologies for the graphic nature. This is what these sick and twisted individuals take delight in and something I’ll never understand. Those responsible, the Albrighton and Woodland Hunt met at the Robin Hood Inn, Drayton Road, Stourbridge. Perhaps you may wish to contact them and ask why they support illegal hunting or maybe leave a review on their Facebook page. Another casualty last weekend was a deer which had to flee the as the South Dorset Hunt was active between Sherborne & Dorchester. In it’s desire to escape it ran right across a busy road and was struck by a car and killed. This incident highlights once again the damage the hunts do to more than just the animal they’re targeting.

The real problem of course remains in the policing of the legislation in place, or should I say the complete lack of it. If this was any other situation in any other location the police would be all over it like a tramp on hot chips however I think it’s pretty clear that they have instructions from on high not to get involved unless they can either cheaply arrest some sabs (who are in effect doing their job for them) to make their figures look good and justify some costs or if there’s a credible threat of violence, which is often the case and generally focused in our direction. The recent dropping of a case by the CPS which involved the killing of a stag by the Devon and Somerset Stag Hounds is quite frankly a disgrace. They claim the kill was made under the exemption of “Scientific Research” which is of course complete bullsh*t.

Joe Duckworth, Chief Executive of the League Against Cruel Sports said: “How on earth can chasing a wild animal to exhaustion be considered as genuine scientific research and observation? The decision taken to drop the case against members of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds needs immediate explanation. We urge the public to watch the footage for themselves and make up their own mind as to whether the primary purpose of the hunt member’s actions was for research or for sport.”

Watch the footage, decide for yourself.