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).

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