It was certainly a busy day for us today as we began by going to look for the Cotswold Vale Farmers’ Hunt who we found at Southwick Park Farm just south of Tewkesbury. Two of us went into Long Plantation where they normally draw and pick-up while two other sabs, one from NORTH Shropshire HUNT SABS were on their way over from ‘elsewhere’.
Almost immediately we spotted supporters along a hedgeline, hounds picking up in a small covert nearby, heard “Tally ho back” (twice) and spotted the raising of a hand and the pointing of a whip to alert huntsman, Simon Scatterpack, as to the direction the fox had run in.
We believe we managed to distract the hounds long enough to allow fox to escape – one sab was in field holloa’ing the pack whilst the other sab filmed a cub escaping down another hedgeline. She was subsequently assaulted and had her camera broken… if you’re able to help us out financially to get a new one, that would be amazing! Donate and / or share this report or funding link. Thanks!
The hunt gathered up the hounds (gradually…) and tried to head south to lose us. Two sabs inland headed back to the car, knowing that the others were now waiting for the hunt further south and, sure enough, we soon got word that the hunt had been spotted. We passed them not long after, taking up much of the road, and left the other sabs to deal with them – a holloa was heard and they ran in in perfect time to help the fox escape over a wall… of course hunt staff were not happy about this and sabs were threatened with having their teeth knocked down their throats. Nice.
Over near Bromsash (the other side of the Gloucestershire cull zone) the Ross Harriers hunt were preparing for the opening meet of the season. The sabs who had left the Cottie Vale now met up with another 3C Sab, another from North Shropshire, an Outpaced representative, a sab from Sheffield Saboteurs, one from Derby Hunt Saboteurs and a couple of independent sabs in the area to resist the Gloucestershire badger cull.
It wasn’t long after we found the hunt that we informed the police that the hunt were illegally hunting (the hunt keep saying ‘well, why don’t you call the police?’ so we did) and that we’d received some vague threats. The response was fantastic with some West Mercia officers coming along and, as we had a number of relatively minor, but repeated, incidents they ended up sticking around for most of the day.
With Bristol Hunt Saboteurs heading over to finish off the Cottie Vale, our team for the day became completed at the Harriers. After a bit of a faff around in a field, the hunt going back and forth, up and down the hill, wondering what to do and where to go, the hunt then got going. Sabs were spat at by city boy Luke and his mates, members of the field rode at sabs on a footpath, two foxes escaped from one covert, one getting away due to sabs distracting hounds whilst another got away at the same time when another group intercepted and the hunt then called the hounds back themselves. Trying to pick up the scent again a field over, a hound got caught in a fence by his paw. Some good teamwork between sabs and huntsman Owain meant he was quickly released.
A hound was kicked by a horse at one point (an accident and we hope the hound is ok!) and the rider viciously whipped the horse in punishment. When shouted at to stop, sabs were told by another rider that he could do ‘whatever he wants’ to the horse. When asked if she punishes her children in the same way, she responded that she would to ‘keep them in line’ before telling us to go stick our heads ‘up a drain or something’. Pleasant lady…
We didn’t want to get stuck behind the field when they headed down a track, so we drove to intercept the hunt and hounds (it’s useful knowing the area from sabbing the cull here for years!) and we spotted a fox dashing across the road in front of us, so we got ready to jump out as we got to the line so that we could cover it. Hounds suddenly turned the corner and headed straight for where the fox had run, but we managed to stop much of the pack, the hunt then calling the hounds back themselves when forcefully told that the fox had been caught on camera.
Last draw of the day. And the hounds picked up again. Gizmo in hand, a North Shrops sab drew some of the pack into a field and out of a covert having watched the fox break covert and sprint from the hounds. The rest of us joined in and, using holloas and horns, took more of the pack from the huntsman. As soon as it became obvious that hunt was trying to gather them again, we left them to it and followed them back to the meet to watch them pack up.
A long day, a long report. We did worry we might get an evening cubhunting meet on the way home (and we would have happily scrambled over!) but we didn’t. So we’ve arranged to make statements to the police, gone through the footage (video coming later) and are heading back into the Gloucestershire cull zone now.
See you in the fields! Good luck out there everyone!