North Cotswold Hunt Ball

Tickets for the North Cotswold Hunt Ball, which will be held on 7th December, went on sale at the end of September and, having had a look at the details and the hosts, we decided that a post about the hunt was needed.

The North Cotswold Hunt (NCH) has been a hunt that we have attended the meets of for several seasons, sometimes only a few times a season, occasionally focusing on them more. Nigel Peel was huntsman for many a year, until Ollie Dale took over the role. Guy Fitzearle has been kennel huntsman for both of these men. William Haines (junior) has acted as terrierman for a number of seasons and Chris Trotman joined the hunt as terrierman for the 2019 – 2020 season.

Location: Nayles Barn, Cutsdean

During this cubhunting season (August 2019) the hunt have met in this area weekly. They have met here several times each season and often end up running into Stanway Stone, which is the quarry situated between Toad’s Corner and Nayles Larch, right by Nayles Barn (who in their right mind would lay a trail in a working quarry full of machinery and steep rock piles?) There is at least one artificial earth in this area, one which we know has had foxes blocked into it before hunt meets in the past, one which has been blocked on occasion to stop foxes escaping into, one which has badger sett entrances nearby which have also been blocked up and one which has had chicken carcasses left next to it during the hunting season in order to feed and therefore encourage foxes to use it.

He also owns other land near Nayles Larch / Barn where badger cages were found in a covert right next to where hounds were hunting, often in full cry, for around 4 hours on this day in October. As badgers can be shot anytime up to midday in the culls once they’ve been trapped in cages overnight and the hunt were in the area between 7.30am and 11.30am, there could easily have been badgers in these cages whilst hounds hunted just metres away – imagine the fear of hearing hounds in full cry and being able to do nothing to escape…

Host: Lord Wemyss

Also known by the title ‘Earl of Wemyss and March’ or James Charteris (also by the surname Neidpath) Lord Wemyss owns the Stanway Estate, including the quarry, Nayles Barn, Nayles Larch, Toad’s Corner and plenty of the surrounding area.

Wemyss owns tens of thousands of acres of land in total and this also includes land near Hailes Abbey, where hounds marked to ground in an active badger sett on 11th October (see picture on left above) and land in Didbrook where hounds killed a fox on 13th September (see two remaining pictures above) and hunt servant Tim Pearce-May (formerly of the Ledbury Hunt*) was filmed trying to head cubs back into the hounds in a maize field.

*Tim Pearce-May was questioned over theft from his time at the Ledbury Hunt when he stole a banner from Three Counties Sabs at a protest. He was made to reimburse the group by the police. He is also on film on numerous occasions being involved in illegal hunting as part of the Ledbury Hujt over the seasons

The video above, from 10th March 2018, is also from land near Didbrook, not far from where the fox was killed in September of this year.

Land is also owned elsewhere in Cutsdean, including the covert through which hounds chased this fox back in November 2018, Guy Fitzearle shrugging at sabs when he was informed that hounds were indeed chasing a fox and continuing to encourage them on…

In January 2019 hunt supporters were filmed by a sab driving home from work as they alerted hunt staff when a fox ran across the road just the other side of the above covert. “Tally Ho” can be heard and the hunt supporter points to show that the fox has run into the covert opposite then tells hunt staff where he was seen. Again, this covert is owned by Lord Wemyss.

We would be incredibly surprised if Lord Wemyss believed that this hunt are lawfully following a false scent, especially as up until 2 seasons ago they were claiming to flush foxes to a bird of prey, using the ‘Falconer’s Exemption’. As they were not claiming to be following trails, how are we supposed to believe that they were from allowing hounds to find foxes and flush them from their hiding places out to a bird of prey* but are now fully trained to follow a false scent instead…

*for those who are unaware, several hunts used to pretend to use the Falconers’ Exemption. This exemption was written into the Hunting Act in order to allow falconers to use a couple of dogs to scare out of hiding certain animals for their birds of prey to chase. Fox hunts picked up on this loophole and tried to use it for themselves, though many of them didn’t even bother pretending very hard – they would have a bird of prey present but instead of stopping hounds as soon as an animal had broken covert, they allowed the pack to continue chasing. The exemption has pretty much been abandoned by hunts since last season

We haven’t touched on Mr R Deutsch, mentioned on the above invitation, as he is a much smaller landowner and lives in the part of the country which the NCH share with the Warwickshire. As a smaller, and less wealthy, landowner he is far more vulnerable to legal action if the hunt are found to be illegally hunting on his land with his permission – Wemyss is far more likely to be able to afford good legal defendants…

Supporters:

The Chip Shop Boys will be playing at the Hunt Ball – despite being told about the hunt’s activities over the seasons they have chosen not to even respond to polite messages asking why they want to be associated with a criminal group.

Similarly Toke’s Food and Drink of Chipping Campden will be catering for the hunt and, despite being sent a polite message informing them of the hunt’s activities, they also decided not to even acknowledge the message.

Possibly somewhat less surprising that they support the hunt, as we believe that a prominent hunt member and stalker-of-anti-hunt-people works for the company, Fews Marquees will be providing shelter for party-goers on the day.

R&R Catering and Event Hire will also be providing services for the hunt ball.

The hunt:

The following information is about the activities of the hunt elsewhere than on land mentioned above.

Far from helping to ‘Conserve the Cotswolds’, the North Cotswold Hunt have been filmed on countless occasions over the seasons tampering with badger setts (an offence under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992), trespassing on locals’ land, blatantly chasing foxes and cubs and putting their hounds, horses and terriers at risk, not to mention the safety and lives of others in the areas in which they hunt.

The next video shows terrierman William Haines (junior) at a badger sett which he had started digging into during cubhunting in 2016. He has a police caution for attempting to run over a sab in December of that same year and has been reported to us more recently for causing the death of some of his terriers that same season.

It is not just badger setts which Will Haines likes to put his terriers into, but also artificial earths, particularly when the hunt ‘need’ a fox to chase in the area (for example when they are trying to impress their mates from the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt). In this next video you can see Will Haines at the entrance of an artificial earth and he admits that his dog is inside, but claims that the dog is ‘trapped’ (he should probably keep them away from drains and setts and earths, etc. then…).

The hunt have met on a number of occasions at Ryefield Farm in Wormington, and use the above artificial earth on the Wormington Estate when they are in the area. Not only have sabs been assaulted by hunt members when the hunt have met there, but the farm itself has had several bTB breakdowns… the hunt have met there while there are open cases, meaning that the farm has not yet been cleared of the disease! One example of a hunt meet at Ryefield was when Kingston Hunt Sabs were in the area in September 2017 and came out to the hunt with us, filming hunt hounds walking through slurry and between separation crates with calves in them, running to nearby bTB-free dairy and beef farms and potentially spreading the disease to other cows and wildlife…

The next video is from only a few fields away from that meet at Ryefield Farm, though much closer to the near bTB-free farm. Saddle-slapping can be heard in the clip, a way of making noise as to try and prevent a fox from escaping in a particular direction.

This is certainly not the only time when, or place where, the hunt have met at a farm with an unresolved bTB issue. On 27th September this year the hunt met at Clopton Orchard Farm (where they have met several times previously).

This farm has had an ‘open’ (unresolved) bTB status since June this year and yet the hunt believe it sensible to draw hedgerows by piles of manure, mark to ground in active badger setts and run hounds, horses and vehicles across a number of different fields and through coverts, going from the meet with bTB via other landowners’ properties and then right back to the meet. The following short video clip shows the hunt picking up on the scent of a fox in a hedgerow – as can be seen from the video, it would not be an area that any hunt who were following a false scent would actually lay a trail. Luckily for this fox the presence of sabs filming and rating caused the hunt to gather the pack and move on – they returned later on the way back to the meet to try again but were unable to pick up on his scent.

This is the same area (and almost the same hedgerow, only slightly closer to the main road) where the hunt killed a fox in November 2018. On the other side of the hedgerow we found further evidence of the kill and, whilst filming, the landowner arrived and asked us why we had brought a quadbike into her field of horses – we explained that the quad belonged to the hunt and that we were anti-hunt and she told us that the hunt had had no permission to be in her field. As she checked on her distraught horses she realised that as the terriermen had ridden off with the fox’s body on their quad, they had turned off and failed to turn on again the electric fence – with vehicles (including HGVs) driving at speed on the road adjacent to the field these horses had been put in serious danger.

Speaking of hunt trespass, later in 2018 the hunt were caught digging out at a badger sett by a sab. Hunt servants were holding up the pack of hounds just along the hedgerow which is done while waiting for a fox to be released for them to give chase. The fox ran through local gardens, hounds following behind and outraged residents told sabs that the had obviously not given the hunt permission to go through their land… once again, the hunt were obviously not following a false scent…

Choosing to be more concerned about the odd bit of trespass from sabs, hunt members often lie about being landowners – this can be quite amusing when it happens in front of the actual landowner, particularly if the hunt are the ones trespassing at the time. Tens of anti-hunt (and even pro-hunt, but anti-arrogance) landowners have been referred to the fantastic advice of Hounds Off over the seasons as they provide assistance to landowners in stopping hunt trespass and taking further legal action if required against hunts persisting in their activities.

It is not always like this, however, and we do not lie about the fact that we often trespass. Unlike the hunt, however, we cause no damage to crops, fences, cause no harm to farm or domestic animals or other wildlife and do not put lives at risk. Hunt members are known to be far less concerned about risks posed to sabs and others by riding horses at us or by paying more attention to us filming their illegal hunting than to what the hounds are up to at the time – the railway line in the following video is a live railway, not a disused one… if a false scent has been laid there or near there then the hunt staff are posing a great risk to the hounds, railway staff and any passengers aboard trains using the line. If no trail has been laid there then it should be fairly obvious to hunt members that the hounds have followed the scent of a fox or are looking for the line… either way there is a severe lack of urgency shown as no hunt servants attempt to call hounds away from the line and allow hounds to continue to cast for a scent. The railway company were contacted and confirmed that the hunt have been told to stay away…

It is not just railway lines which the hunt like to pose a risk to members of the public and their own hounds on. Main roads are another common feature in a hunting day out with the NCH…

The next video shows terriermen (and self-proclaimed landowner) at an area where hounds had just marked to ground – we also have film and pictures of the badger sett which hounds had damaged). Despite sabs being on footpaths, and therefore not trespassing, they were driven at and pushed when checking on the sett. In an adjacent field the hunt were filmed as one of their members removed a gate from its hinges due to the fact it was locked – no permission had been given for the hunt to be present on that land on the day. This is a common occurrence as you cannot accurately predict where a fox will run to during a chase…

Hunt members and supporters do not only remove gates for trespassing hunt servants, drive vehicles / ride horses at sabs on footpaths and push them about and alert hunt servants as to the location of running foxes, they also ‘head’ foxes into the hounds during chases…*

*for more information about some of the terms you may hear / read on our page or used by the hunts, check out our page ‘Glossary of Hunting Terms and Instructions’

This next video shows footage taken by a sab from Three Counties and also one from Bristol Hunt Saboteurs who met up at a meet of the NCH. At around 2mins 30secs you can see hounds in Guiting Quarry, an area which has confirmed on previous occasions the hunt have no right to be in. At 3mins 35secs vice-chairman of the hunt Jamie Smith (who has more recently stalked, assaulted and pushed around another sab from Three Counties Sabs whilst pretending to be an agent of the landowner) tries to force the sab from Bristol off the footpath that she was on. At around 4mins 50secs you see a brief fox chase, members of the hunt head the fox back into the hounds and others grab the two sabs present and restrain them while the hounds kill the fox…

This last video shows hounds in Guiting Quarry back on November 1st 2017 when the manager of the area confirms that the hunt have no permission to be on the land, that they would not be given permission to go there to lay a trail or chase foxes and that they would be getting in touch with the hunt about this… even if no communication was received by the hunt, our video was posted online at the time and hunt staff and members commented on it at later hunt meets. But when you’re chasing a fox, apparently the safety of your hounds is apparently less important than your sport…

The information written and shown on this page is certainly not an exhaustive list of what the hunt and supporters have been up to and what they will get up to, but should be enough for any reasonable member of society to wish to dissociate themselves with the ‘North Cotswold Hunt’ name and reputation. The Chip Shop Boys, R&R Catering and Events Hire, Fews Marquees and Toke’s are only a few of those who are supporting the hunt and are only involved in helping criminals to have a good time at a party…

Lord Wemyss (or whatever James Charteris wishes to be known as) will not only be hosting a party for the hunt this year but continues to allow them to illegally hunt on his land. Chicken carcasses left outside of a well-used covert containing an artificial earth. Badgers traps set in coverts which the hunt draw their hounds through to pick up on the scent of foxes. Blocked setts and foxes blocked into artificial earths. Blatant fox chases which often head off Wemyss’ land and on to neighbouring fields and woodlands which the hunt have no permission to be on. Assaults of sabs and monitors when they gain evidence of illegal hunts, fox kills and even when they’re on footpaths. Hunt supporters heading foxes and cubs back towards the pack of hounds. Badger setts damaged and obstructed as hounds mark to ground in them, foxes trying to escape while being chased. Until this hunt are stopped, they will continue trying to ‘Con the Cotswolds’.

12th October ’19 – North Cotswold Hunt

*** hunt block artificial earth, badger sett and rabbit warren entrances prior to meet * stray hounds rated off fox scent * exhausted cub chased on to road and into woods ***

The day began early as we knew that the hunt would be meeting, yet again, near Nayles Larch (not far from Spring Hill where they’ve ended up each week since cubhunting started). We were aware that the terrierman’s quadbike had been taken to the meet early so we headed straight there. A sab went inland to check on a known artificial earth (AE) and was followed by terrierman Chris Trotman. Once near the AE our usual stalker Jamie Smith attempted to do a handover and release Chris from his following duties but sab managed to easily evade him, Chris joking about playing games of hide and seek. And so it began…

As sab found the AE blocked up, along with nearby badger sett and larger entrances of a rabbit warren, the hunt were preparing to leave the meet, watched by another sab. Inland the AE was unblocked and checked – we know that foxes have been blocked into it in the past in order to flush out for the hounds to chase, so needed to ensure this was not the case this morning.

As the hounds entered Nayles Larch and picked up on a scent, sab ran in their direction, Jamie Smith riding his quad towards her and a repeat of his behaviour a few weeks ago ensued, grabbing and pulling and general immaturity. He was informed that he should call the police if he wished to remove her (we can’t trust him when he says he is an agent of the landowner because he has lied about this before, once right in front of the actual owner of some land!) and he did so, briefly letting go of the sab at one point who took the opportunity to run. Despite an attempt to trip her on the rocks from the quarry she got away and into the woods where she stopped stray hounds from chasing a fox towards the rest of the pack, Victoria Collins taking on the role of pretend-agent-of-the-landowner but lacking the determination to stay with the sab.

Out of Nayles Larch and through the covert with the AE, hounds soon picked up on a scent and then found themselves back in Nayles Larch. Hounds spent some time within the wood – more on that later – and when huntsman Ollie Dale decided to gather the hounds and move on the pack returned to the covert with the AE, they picked up on a line immediately and chased a fox across the quarry (who in their right mind would lay a trail across a working quarry full of machinery and steep rock piles?) and, once again, back into Nayles Larch. Jamie Smith had been alerted to the sab’s presence and tried to find her within the wood, looking downtrodden as he walked straight past her having failed to do so. As a young deer ran from the pack and hounds picked up on her scent and Jamie proved that hunt members are perfectly capable of stopping hounds giving chase when they’re not supposed to.

The shoot had started nearby and morning was drawing on and yet the hunt drew through a nearby small woodland, an exhausted cub running on to road and filmed by a sab. He had a couple of minutes headstart on the hounds and his line was driven over by both the sab and her stalker. Hounds lost the scent as they hit the road but a hunt member told Ollie Dale that the fox had “gone left-handed” and he took the pack on to pick up the scent. Near Nayles Barn another hunt member told Ollie where the fox had gone – “ran down there by the jump and cut the corner” and the pack were encouraged to carry on on the line. Sab ran over and did her best to rate hounds… luckily for this cub it was late morning and Nayles Larch (where they had ended up once more) is a big woodland… the hounds were soon gathered and taken back to the meet as Jamie Smith failed again to find the sab.

With the area so large and landlocked and hounds spread out all over for much of the time we cannot be sure if any hounds killed throughout the day, but we certainly didn’t make it any easier for them and gathered some decent evidence with which we are building a case against the hunt. In areas like this it can be difficult to keep up with the hunt, particularly as there are large areas adjacent to each other, quarries around the woods and little road access.

As the sab walked back to her pick-up point and got within 10 metres of the road, Jamie felt the need to film her and tell her to return to the road, so that he could pretend that she was only doing so because he had said so… we almost feel sorry for him – he likes to think of himself as a big deal in the hunt and tries hard to gain respect but they just use him and take the piss out of him. Ah well…

Hide and seek results… Jamie: 0 / Sab: 7

The day hadn’t yet ended as the cull is believed to be still in progress in parts of the North Cotswold zone so setts were checked and bait points emptied. On the way home we found stray sheep wandering on a busy A-road outside of Stow and spent 40 minutes helping local farmers get them away from the road, slowing down traffic and scooping up a local terrier in the process who had come over to see what was going on!

More video clips to follow. See you on Monday Ollie and friends (we can’t promise you’ll see us though).

11th October – North Cotswold Hunt

*** NCH hounds mark to ground in an active badger sett in a badger cull zone for second time this week ***

We kennel-watched the NCH this morning and found the hunt meet was right by Hayles Fruit Farm (near Hailes Abbey, just south of Didbrook).

Sabs went inland straight away as there are badger setts in nearby fields and coverts. The hunt initially headed north from the meet and drew hedgerows up towards the school in Didbrook, hounds running out of control on the road as children and parents turned up to begin the school day.

One of our sabs was being followed by Georgie Ash who is the girlfriend of terrierman Chris Trotman and who appears to have been roped into keeping an eye on sabs… one may wonder what the hunt have to hide to need sabs constantly being followed. When the school headmaster came out on to the road to enquire what was happening Georgie seemed to have forgotten to rehearse her answers and was unsure what to say (especially with hounds still straying across the road) and it was down to sabs to inform him that it was an illegal cub hunt.

The hunt entered Hailes Wood from the north and hounds picked up on a scent almost immediately and gave chase, sabs recognising the familiar sound of ‘marking to ground’ (where hounds indicate that a fox has sought shelter underground). A sab made her way to the area and found several hounds still trying to dig into the entrances of an active sett (this area is in the badger cull and so setts are checked regularly by locals working alongside Gloucestershire Badger Office). Huntsman had tried to remove the pack from the location but a number of hounds had, unsurprisingly with this hunt, ignored him. There were still hounds loose half an hour later. Sab stuck around to ensure no one came back to dig out the fox and ensured that there were open entrances for him to escape out of (and to ensure badgers have an air supply) as hounds had forced a lot of soil into the entrances and blocked them. Hound pawprints and claw marks were visible on the surrounding earth.

The hunt did a runner and we caught up with them again later in the morning when they were at Thrift Wood, to the East. Hounds picked up north of Staits Grove, terriermen rushing to catch up from where they had been chilling in the field between Hailes and Thrift woods before heading back to the meet to pack up.

As we were right in the middle of the North Cotswold cull zone we spent our time in the fields and woods wisely, checking for badger cull activity. Some beautiful setts still out there…

Video shows hounds marking to ground. Police have been informed of the hunt’s activities. If you like what we do and want to support us please share our posts, like our page and, if you’re able to help financially, chuck us a few quid through paypal.me/threecountiessabs

7th October 2019 – North Cotswold Hunt

*** NCH hounds mark to ground in active badger sett in ongoing badger cull zone * Hunt member attempts to head fox towards pack and alert hunt staff ***

The North Cotswold Hunt met just outside of Broadway today. We got there early and got up into the hills at Buckland to intercept them and picked them up by Pye Corner. As hunt staff and supporters were not yet aware of our presence, we were able to watch a hunt member as he headed a fox back towards the hunt, holloa’d to let the hunt know of the sighting and pointed…

Luckily for this fox the hounds were on the scent of others – the pack split and two separate groups of hounds marked to ground in different areas while others followed a scent into a farmyard and explored the barns and buildings (to the annoyance of the farmers…). There were numerous signs all over the stiles and fences telling dog-walkers to keep their dogs on leads, explaining that they scare and can harm farm animals. Evidently the hunt were exempt…

The hunt travelled south, terriermen with us and therefore not digging out any setts, picking up on a scent for some time in one area but losing it and moving on. They headed downhill towards Laverton with one sab keeping an eye on them from the quarry, others sabs stalked by hunt members but this sab managing to keep out of sight. Hounds picked up intermittently but seemed unable to stay on a scent for long. As the morning drew on, huntsman took hounds back to and through Buckland, drawing the same shrub and undergrowth for around ten minutes, but again unable to flush out a fox to chase… and so they moved on.

As one sab had been keeping an eye on the hunt’s location, others headed to the hunt’s location and kept with them while the other sab caught up. A decent pincer movement, someone always with eyes on the hunt. Back to the original area where the hunt had first been found and sabs heard hounds pick up then what sounded like marking to ground… terriermen headed to the area and huntsman blew three notes on the horn (blowing for the terriers) so sabs went inland and arrived at an active badger sett around the same time as terrierman Chris Trotman who, after slipping down a spoil heap, decided that he was actually just trying to round up loose hounds.

This area is in the North Cotswold badger culling zone, the cull is in progress at the moment… while the hunt packed up nearby we checked other setts in the area, put up cameras to monitor activity (badger, cull operative and terrierman) then headed out to other areas this afternoon to keep an eye on cull activity.

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30th September and 1st October 2019 – Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt

We were out with Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch and Ridgeway Illegal Huntwatch. The stalkers were out after CIHW following them everywhere!

Late in the morning, at Addy’s Firs, 2 foxes were seen running to safety from the pack (see video). A bit or rating and spraying citronella may have helped but it is thought that sab presence each side of the covert stopped them from pursuing as they would have done if we were not present.

Much sett checking done afterwards nearby as this area is in the third year of culling. As the hounds hit the field after the second fox the scent had become difficult to stay on.

The Beaufort (again), Tuesday 1st October, Inglestone Common. We did not see much of the hunt in this huge landlocked area. Sadly we found what was once a large sett filled in with the remnants of a fire on top during the morning. After a coffee break it was on into an afternoon spent sett checking nearby, hearing guns shooting pheasants on the first day of the pheasant shooting season…

There were also reports of the Croome meeting at Marshall’s lorry park, Throckmorton.

Please give https://www.facebook.com/Ridgewayhuntmonitors/ a like and https://www.facebook.com/CIHWatch/

29th September 2019 – North Cotswold Hunt

We had a tip-off that the hunt would be meeting back near Spring Hill House. They were in this area last week and the week before that they killed a cub at Spring Hill.

The hunt realised we were around and, despite the preparation work done by quadbike-riding hunt staff around known artificial earths, ran to nearby Spring Hill (which is a large landlocked area with very few footpaths).

Jamie Smith latched on to one of us on foot, which saved the rest of us from his chatter and the playing of rugby loudly on his radio.

Meanwhile another of us ran inland and found hounds picking up near to Campden Ashes. With one rider trying to stop sab from filming by pretending she was a friend of the landowner (this hunt is getting repetitive and boring) and screeching about trespass, turning her horse into the sab, sab left the main track and rider gave up. She saw a hunt supporter (who we believe is the ex-terrierman for this hunt but are awaiting an ID) with 3 terriers standing on a spoil heap of a blocked badger sett.

He claimed over and over that the sett was not active and therefore it wasn’t illegal to block it, but when asked why it was blocked in the first place he suddenly became speechless… this is all in the North Cotswold cull zone with the cull in progress.

Police have been informed. Again.

While others were inland checking on setts and artificial earths, hounds picked up and ran towards the road to the south, our driver for the day rating the pack off the scent and huntsman took the pack back inland once more.

(NB if you have hounds near you and in sight and can be sure that no or is trying to escape from them towards you, you can rate the hounds back with voice commands such as “leave it”. Cracking a homemade whip (not hitting the hounds) and even clapping your hands loudly can work. Even if the lead hounds have passed by you on the scent, stopping the remainder of the pack may bring the lead hounds back and away from the hunted animal).

Not the easiest meet but plans scuppered, hunt annoyed and yet another visit from our group, and some successes throughout the morning.

Back out protecting badgers for the remainder of the day and into the night. See you in the fields!

27th September 2019 – North Cotswold Hunt

We had a last-minute tip-off that the NCH would be meeting in this area, so three of our sabs headed out to give them some company. Upon our arrival in the area hunt supporters started talking about the hunt’s meet on Wednesday… but not what the hunt had been up to – it appears that the fact a sab went out on her own and parked the car ‘somewhere’ to go inland on foot all morning was far more interesting than what the hunt were up to, either on Wednesday or, in fact, right in front of the supporters at the time of the conversation.

With a sab on the road (we can’t leave vehicles near any of our hunts as they get vandalised and we need someone able to be able to move quickly either to pick up foot-sabs or follow the hunt if they do a runner) and another inland, one foot sab jogged inland to the hunt staff who were putting hounds into a hedgerow full of thick brambles – we’d love to see the state of any trail-layer given the job to crawl through there! Sure enough, hounds picked up and, soon after, a fox was seen running along the hedge, past hounds and over piles of manure (to help mask his scent). He escaped, sab giving him help by rating hounds… and something unusual happened – the normally cocky kennel huntsman Guy Fitzearle and huntsman Ollie Dale gathered the hounds and left the area. Perhaps the fact that police are looking into the kills they’ve had this season (plus other stuff…) has rattled them a bit. Never underestimate the power of filming and knowing your stuff – it’s a perfect compliment to traditional sabbing tactics.

On across the busy B-road (more carefully than usual although this was not to last) and there was some silliness from a couple of riders, one of whom claimed to be the landowner, then backed down and said that he knew the landowner, then the other rider became the landowner then also backed down. Then they were friends of the landowner and, finally, the hunt had been given permission to be there by the landowner and therefore sabs (probably…) hadn’t. With the hunt drawing blank and moving off (after 10 minutes of waiting for Guy to manage to gather loose hounds), a foot sab and driver headed to a nearby covert, right next to a busy main road with numerous HGV’s (there’s a scrap yard nearby) and reckless car drivers. Hunt soon arrived as predicted and a supporter attempted to head a fox back into the pack but the fox jinked and carried on. Hounds, meanwhile, had found their way on to, and across, and back over the main road, drivers slamming on brakes and our driver being the only one slowing down traffic. The new whipper-in and terrierman Chris Trotman were abandoned to gather the remaining loose hounds as hunt carried on.

With the hounds picking up, two foxes were seen running from the hounds and their lines were covered, but a third fox was marked in a hay barn, hounds and terrierman both very interested in where he had gone. More on that later…

Hounds were brought round to where the two other foxes had run but we had had a brief few moments of sun (which is a deodoriser) and, coupled with the citronella sprayed over the lines, the scent was difficult to pick up on. Sab was nearby to rate hounds and huntsman gave up and took the pack back across his favourite main road once more. After a brief jolly and a quick check back at the original hedgerow for that first fox escapee, but to no avail, the hunt called it a day and packed up.

Longer video (and shorter write-up, we promise) to follow later this weekend, so watch this space. Huge thanks to the people who call in tip-offs, anonymously or otherwise, support us by liking and sharing our posts and those who can afford to throw a few quid our way to cover fuel and equipment. We couldn’t do what we do without you!

21st September 2019 – North Cotswold Hunt

We kept close tabs on them to start with and when hounds managed to hunt a fox from Toad Corner we were ideally placed to rate the hounds off, allowing him to escape into some gorse.

Ollie Dale then took hounds the gorse, flushing the fox out just in front of hounds… but he escaped into a large badger sett. Since the police have warned the hunts about blocking setts, many remain unblocked and this fox managed to escape as a result!

The feeble explaination of “cold marking” (where hounds mark a hole with a fox in residence as opposed to one escaping from them into a hole) cut no ice with us.

Shortly afterwards another fox ran by and we sprayed across the wood to mask his scent. They went on for another hour or so with the terriermen getting a bit snotty towards the end.

As this is in the North Cotswold cull zone, sett checking was commenced afterwards, intermingled with brunch.

A short stop for tea and updating logs and it was then a matter of peanut harvesting. Another team from 3C was active in the West Gloucestershire zone.

These are very long days and people were busy into the small hours protecting badgers, with other groups and individuals working extremely hard and putting themselves in very uncomfortable situations too. Hats off to Cirencester Illegal Huntwatch who are doing so much in South Gloucestershire and all the independent local autonomous groups.

14th September 2019 – North Cotswold Hunt

Our fourth outing of the week to a hunt meet (plus several hours a day out checking badger setts and looking for cull activity) and all meets were the North Cotswold Hunt. On Monday we believe they killed after a dig-out was found by a sab in the area, Tuesday we found them in Willersey, Friday they killed a cub in the Didbrook area and Saturday they were not happy to see us again.

Several hunts were out on Saturday – in this area we can sab every weekday with options on which hunt to attend on most days but on Saturday we will often have the choice of 9 different hunts to go to… we got a call while we were out and about saying that the North Cotswold Hunt had been spotted holding up at Little Mocho. Knowing of several badger setts around Childswickham and 3 artificial earths within a few minutes’ walk of each other, we headed straight over.

The black plastic AE (artificial earth) near Mocho was blocked with ceramic blocks – blocked in order to stop a fox from escaping into it? This hunt has also been known to block a fox into an AE to flush to the hounds if they don’t ‘naturally’ pick up on a scent. Upon finding this, Jamie Smith started to get ‘hands-on’ with the sab who was filming, demanding that she leave the land (despite being on a footpath at first). As she and the other sabs began to follow the hunt on foot Jamie and his colleague stayed with them, grabbing her arm and trying to block the camera. When asked why he had a blocked AE on his land he admitted it wasn’t in fact his land – he later pointed out the actual landowner to sabs, the landowner smiling and being more interested in watching the hunt than where the sabs had walked…! Jamie had already assaulted two sabs at this point (although the assaults were minor, hitting someone in the face and pushing another person off a gate could have been more serious…).

After a brief drive down the road on a non-road-legal quad, stinking of alcohol and with his colleague as a passenger (also illegal) Jamie continued to try to get us to leave land he didn’t own and wasn’t an agent of the landowner for. At one point he squeezed a female sab’s chest, later he was heard talking to his (even more inebriated) colleague about “having her face down in a ditch”. Jamie tried to remove sabs from several footpaths and kept telling hunt riders that he was just stopping to consult his map or that he was a bit lost… not sure he was the best candidate for telling anyone where they were or where they were allowed to be.

While another sab kept hunt supporters busy with conversations about hunting, animal agriculture and rewilding, our driver and the sab who had stayed with the car were able to follow and keep tabs on the hunt without being stalked. Badger setts and artificial earths were checked and the hunt had company for much of the day from sabs on the ground. We will be reviewing the extensive footage we have of Jamie and his aggression and speaking with the police later in the week.

A huge thank you to those who keep contacting us with tip-offs about meets and other insights into our local hunts, those who support us both with donations and online work (liking and sharing our page and posts) and to Those Vegan Pizza Guys for holding a fundraiser for us and Gloucestershire Badger Office on Friday.

See you in the fields! 3C

13th September 2019 – North Cotswold Hunt

The North Cotswold Hunt hunted this morning. We expected them to be going out so kennel-watched and followed them to the meet in Didbrook.

After leaving the meet the hounds were cast into a large maize field, several small groups of hounds picking up on and off on a number of scents. 2 fox cubs were briefly spotted jinking through the maize and there were no obvious kills at this time (sometimes hounds will come up on a fox and kill on sight with little fuss or excitement so we rarely say for certain that there were no kills).

On to another field and hounds picked up on a scent and hunted across the B4077, busy with lorries and other traffic. Huntsman drew the pack through a wood and a brace of foxes (two) ran along the fenceline, hounds just metres behind. With one fox racing past a sab, she rated hounds back and they lost his scent, but the pack had split before this and another group of hounds had killed the other fox further on. They were rated off the body and the fox was taken to the car as evidence.

The hunt went on to another field where they blatantly hunted, they were observed holding-up, saddle-slapping and making noise to scare cubs back toward the hounds, and they were still doing so when they police arrived. Officers took the fox’s body for autopsy, viewed video evidence and pulled over the quadbike as terriermen had turned their number plate round so it was blank. Statements will be taken regarding the hunting and kill and we will release footage when able to do so.

Thank you to all our supporters for their messages of support, donations to keep us in the field and shares of our posts to raise awareness, everything adds up. See you in the fields! 3C