Posts Tagged ‘Hare Hunt’

Beagling is often the forgotten about blood sport with fox  hunting making all the headlines. This week we have another guest blog entry for a sab who knows all about it.

Red Herrings

The dictionary defines a red herring as “something that misleads or distracts from a relevant or important issue”. The phrase was coined by social campaigner Williams Cobbett in 1803 after he sabotaged a hare hunt by dragging a kipper – a smoked herring – in front of the hounds. While today’s vegan hunt sabs won’t be adopting Cobbett’s tactic, his phrase perfectly describes the deceit that lies behind “trail hunting.”

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Beagling before and after 2005

Back in December, an eagle-eyed sab spotted an interesting item on eBay: a 2014-5 newsletter from the Wilts & Infantry Beagles who hunt MoD land on Salisbury Plain. The document provides a rare and disturbing insight into what goes on at hare hunts when sabs aren’t present. Before looking at it, let’s remind ourselves of what hare hunting used to look like and what the beaglers claim they do now.

Beagles and bassets 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 become 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 circular chases that can last anything between 30 minutes and three hours.

Since the Hunting Act beaglers claim to hunt artificial trails. The Countryside Alliance invented “trail hunting” as soon as the Act became law and have aggressively promoted it ever since. Their central claim – which they have repeated under oath in court – is that trail hunting is a legitimate, legal activity that happens to be completely indistinguishable from traditional hunting.

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The exception that proves the rule

The group that I sab with know hare hunting very well. We seek out beagle or basset packs whenever we can and some of us have significant experience of sabbing them pre-ban too. Of the many, many foot packs we have visited since 2005 the only time we have ever witnessed legal, non-lethal hunting was at the New Forest Beagles. The NFB operate in unique circumstances: they are subject to strict licensing conditions by the Forestry Commission and hunt in an area that is extremely popular with members of the public. Because of this they appear to have developed a form hound activity that is legal. We obviously don’t know what they do when we’re not there, but on those occasions we have attended we have not needed to intervene. They use a runner who jogs around spraying a substance – which they claim is Olbas Oil – as he goes. The key features of this activity are:

(a) It is very small in scale – the trail is sprayed for a few hundred yards at most.

(b) Each ‘hunt’ is therefore very short – certainly no more than a couple of minutes. The huntsman jogs along behind the hounds but plays no meaningful part in the proceedings.

(c) The route is generally linear or simply dictated by the terrain. No attempt is made to replicate the circular running patterns of hunted hares.

(d) The trail is sprayed in full view of the huntsman so he is aware of exactly where it has been laid.

(e) Hounds show minimal interest in the trail – there is very little ‘voice’ or ‘drive’. In fact, with the trail-layer often remaining in sight, hounds sometimes appear to be running towards him rather than following a scent.

(f) It is very stop-start: once hounds have run up to the trail layer the whole process has to begin again.

The Countryside Alliance would no doubt like to call this trail hunting, though it is actually a form of drag hunting. Whatever they call it, one thing is clear: it looks absolutely nothing like pre-ban beagling. This is because it is physically impossible to artificially reproduce the experience of hare (or fox) hunting. If it looks like real hunting, it’s because it is real hunting! This simple fact has eluded our stupid and corrupt police forces for the last twelve years.


The Wilts and Infantry Sprint of Shame

Anyone who has sabbed a beagle pack will be familiar with the “walk of shame” – the response by 99% of beagle packs when confronted with sabs. They pack up because trail hunting is a red herring and so there is literally nothing else for them to do. The Wilts & Infantry have developed their own version of this manoeuvre: the “sprint of shame”. They absolutely peg it as soon as we appear and then career off in their hound van at high speed! A look at The Season Past section of their newsletter explains why; about forty meets are described, all of which are nothing like NFB-style drag hunting and exactly like traditional beagling. Here is just a small selection:

(1) “After a warm welcome by the Collins family at Manor Farm, Codford hounds were quickly away on a good scent running fast from the valley onto the high ground with the Field totally enthralled as they ran several large circuits almost to the main road and back before a successful conclusion.”

(2) “A red letter day at Home Farm, Seend . . . hounds crossed the brook twice settling on a line and two big circuits around Great Thornham finally crossing the brook yet again heading to Bulkington stopping short of Manor Farm swinging back towards Pantry Bridge and back up the brook for a successful conclusion.”

(3) “Back to Rodmead . . . as Angus and Sarah hosted the largest Wednesday meet of the season. Putting in on the West side hounds were away almost immediately but on a tricky scent running under Little Knoll towards Newmead then back over the drive to lose touch in sheep foil. Drawing on they picked up on the Elm Farm side with two hard circuits and were duly rewarded.”

(4) “And so to the Closing Meet at Manor Farm, Stockton with Phylidda Stratton our hostess . . . Dry and hard underfoot with the wind still Easterly scent was uncertain however hounds ran outstandingly well after putting on the left of the track running away toward Sherrington Dairy and working back over the dry ground gathering pace running past the pheasant pens down the valley beyond up through Gilberts Cleeve then left handed for a successful conclusion.”


It all smells a bit fishy . . .

. . . to say the least. All of these hunts were long, fast, continuous pursuits over several miles across the challenging terrain of Salisbury Plain. They all also feature the characteristic circular patterns run by desperate hares. In hunt (1) the trail was supposedly laid by the “main road” – the very busy A303; in hunt (2) the trail appears to have been repeatedly put across a stream; while in hunt (3) it was laid through a flock of sheep. All the hunts also ended in a “successful conclusion”; what exactly does this mean in trail hunting? Countryside Alliance guidance clearly states that the huntsman “does not know exactly where the trails have been laid” so how does the Wilts & Infantry huntsman know when the trail has finished and that hounds have been “successful”?

The answer to all these questions, of course, is that the Wilts & Infantry Beagles are openly describing their cruelty and criminality in a document that they never imagined would enter the public domain.

Sab the bastards

In TV crime dramas the police eventually see through all the red herrings and arrest the real criminal. In real life it’s not so simple; twelve years on from the Hunting Act the police continue to dutifully believe everything they are told by the Countryside Alliance. Meanwhile, the heart-breaking cruelty revealed in the Wilts & Infantry newsletter – hares chased for miles until complete exhaustion – is repeated twice a week, six months a year by over sixty other beagle packs up and down the country.

There is literally only one way to stop them: we’ve got to get out there and sab the bastards!


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



I’ve written many times in the past about police inactivity with regards to hunting with hounds and why I believe, in many cases they are reluctant to effectively police it. However sometimes certain cases stand out way beyond the norm and the bias shown simply cannot be attributed to ignorance, lack of resources or reluctance due to limited chance of prosecution.

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A beautiful animal, murdered for fun

The Easton Harriers are a pack which operate in East Suffolk. For those that don’t know Harrier packs will hunt both foxes and hares. They will given the chance, hunt pretty much anything that moves and will offer “sport”. Our colleagues over at Norfolk/Suffolk Hunt Saboteurs have reported over the last few week that they have killed regularly. As you can see from the pictures it’s a gruesome sight and how anyone can take delight in this is simply beyond my comprehension. But hunts killing animals is nothing new, the real problem here is the complete inaction by the local police force.

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The hunt claimed this was a very large rabbit

According to reports police have been present in at least one of the occasions where the illegal killing of a mammal was reported however nothing at all has been done. No statements were taken and no investigation is under way. These aren’t isolated incidents and in an age of social media and the instant proliferation of information there is no reason to believe that the police aren’t be aware of what has transpired and the situation at large. I’m fairly certain that had these crimes been perpetrated by a certain demographic of society, working from say, the back of a van with a few of their mates and using a couple of sight hounds like Lurchers or Greyhounds then the police would have been all over them like a tramp on hot chips. Have a troll through police web sites and their rural commitments especially regarding wildlife crime, poaching or coursing will always get a mention but rarely anything regarding organised hunts.


The hounds devour what’s left of another hare

It would seem however that the Suffolk police are especially good at turning a blind eye so we have to ask ourselves why this is the case. Is there a connection to the hunt at a senior level within the Suffolk force? Are officers on the ground under orders not to police the hunt and take action regardless of the evidence? Is there an institutionalised prejudice of saboteurs with their ranks? Do they simply not care the hunting act is being openly flouted before their very eyes? More importantly as public servants who should act on our behalf to uphold the law what are we going to do about it and who is to be held to account for this gross injustice?

Please contact Chief Constable Gareth Wilson of Suffolk at (Executive Assistant) and perhaps if you get no joy there try Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s PCC: and see if you can get any answers to the questions posed above.

The British public have a voice, let’s make sure it gets heard so we can get these situations changed for the better.

As any regular reader will know I’ve taken a break over the last few weeks to catch up with other things that needed addressing in my life. It’s always a good thing to have a bit of a change of scene and it’s been a busy old time of late but now the hunting season is over it’s time to reflect and take stock and see what we can learn from what has transpired. Overall I’m pleased with what we’ve achieved. We have, without a shadow of a doubt saved a fair few lives and have been a major pain in the arse of the hunts we’ve targeted. This is highlighted by the fact that one hunt has virtually gone underground which will no doubt affect it’s income while others seem to be relying on hired thugs in an effort to thwart our operations.

The police and their views of what he do however remain of some concern. Whilst some forces seem content to let us get on with it and do their jobs for them others are actively aiding the hunts in their efforts to kill our wildlife. Some officers (judging by their Facebook and Twitter profiles) are openly supportive of blood sports so how they can remain impartial when policing these situations is quite frankly beyond me. No matter how much they may claim otherwise it’s only human nature to favour those who share a common ground. So moving on from that steps are being taken to make sure we address this issue, meetings will take place between our representatives and the relevant police commissioners during the close season to try and make sure the hunting act is correctly policed and the word of the hunters shown the appropriate level of suspicion.

As a group (Beds & Bucks Hunt saboteurs) we’ll become a year old this May. For our first year we’ve made quite an impact. Our likes on Facebook are growing by the day and we receive plenty of supportive comments from the general public. We’ve had lots of enquiries from people wanting to get involved directly which is great news and we’ll be training these over the summer to be ready for when the new hunting season kicks off in the autumn. Of course all this costs money so while we have the chance we’ll be doing some fund raising which will go towards equipment and hopefully a new vehicle. I always think the best way to gauge how much of an impact you’ve had is by your opposition and their reactions. We get various comments either directly through this blog or through our Facebook page and of course some of those are from hunters and their supporters. Clearly if someone is annoyed enough to take the time to abuse you on-line then I’ll consider that a victory. One thing is for sure, I’m yet to receive anything abusive which shows any kind of imagination and creativity. They’re pretty much all monosyllabic and lacking in any type of correct grammar and punctuation. Still, it gives me a laugh and only reinforces the general perception of hunts and their support.

There are of course still hunts which operate over the summer and as you’d expect we cannot let them go unchallenged so I’ll update you about those in due course. Well that’s about it for now. I’ll leave you with a highlights reel I put together from the mass of footage I recorded over the season. Enjoy.