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!