Ledbury Hunt: 13th February 2016

Three Counties Sabs split up this morning to go to the Ledbury Hunt for a rare Saturday meet and the South Herefordshire. The Ledbury were meeting at midday for a children’s meet and we were hoping huntsman Mark Meladay would have the same sense as former Ledbury huntsman Will Goffe who, although he loved a chase and a kill, showed us the art of self-sabbing back in his last season with the hunt – at a children’s meet, he called the hounds back from chasing a fox. Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch were once again out with us as we’ve been making a good team lately and we were inland before the hunt set off.

Meanwhile, over in Herefordshire, the South didn’t turn up at the meet and we checked a few of their other known haunts before going looking for the Ross Harriers who were our back-up meet… but nothing there either. So over to the Ledbury it was for the other 3C group (including some of North Shrops Sabs) as well, later followed by Bristol and South Wales Sabs who had also had cancellations! Overkill for a children’s meet? Well, no, as it turned out.

It was a cold morning and the scent was strong – the hounds came from the meet at Tweenhills Stud (master David Redvers’ place, in the middle of the Gloucestershire badger cull zone) and Mark drew them through Carter’s Grove where they picked up quickly and chased round and round until the fox broke and ran up into the woods on a nearby hill. A clear “Gone Away” was heard by sabs, followed by “Tally-ho Back” and hounds streamed up the hill in pursuit, Han Clift once again craving internet ‘fame’ by trying to block a footpath to sabs.

Mark Meladay lifted the pack past lines of citronella and they picked up again, continuing the chase into the hill. A lone sab who had been keeping watch from another area heard noises by a badger sett in another covert soon after hunt had passed through and as she went to check them out, a known ‘dedicated hunt supporter’ was seen driving quickly away from the covert, passengers inside who we’ve caught trying to block or dig out badgers setts in the past.

The hunt had started to head south inland by the A417 at this point and sabs stayed with them, keeping an eye on their behaviour, as they then turned into a nearby valley where we saw a fox make a break before the hunt spotted him, covering his scent well before hounds came past. Over the hills and far away… We caught up with them again on a nearby road as hounds picked up and started to give chase on another line. We rated the hounds which enraged Mark and he rode his horse at one of our sabs before seemingly deciding that hunting would be more fun and running into the field himself, encouraging the hounds on. Holloas and gizmo were used now to lift the heads of the hounds and try to give the fox a few extra valuable seconds to escape in the confusion. Which in turn confused some of the hunt supporters / terriermen.

Into another covert and another fox was chased, this time round and round the graveyard at the church in Corse. Hopefully we gave him some time to escape as well, using holloas and horn calls, but we had to be careful to then not call the hounds back too far and on to the line of the other fox. Soon they were in full cry and Roger Warner and a group of children blocked the road to sab vehicles. Another group of sabs were already in the area and once the fox jumped the wall at the church, hounds were dissuaded from following with rating (a gruff telling-off)…

It was an early pack-up due to it being a children’s meet and with the hunt already having been out the day before. We pulled up in a nearby layby to collect radios and say goodbye to each other when the hound box drove by, occupants giving us a one-finger salute. Vehicle pulling the trailer with the quadbike was close behind and, as they beeped and holloared at us on the way past, passenger Charlie Freeman held a dead fox out of the window – they later took great pleasure in telling us how it had been “shot out lamping last night” before Oscar Bates decided it was time to give us “a five-finger wave” (his words) and let us get home for some tea…

A separate post will be going up soon about the terriermen and other quadbikers, so we won’t ramble on now, needless to say there’s plenty that could be said about them! Video will follow soon.

Check out this amazing bit of sabbing and filming from North Shrops Sabs

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