9th December ’19 – Ledbury Hunt

* landowner admits not caring what hunt get up to on her land *
* hunt supporters trespass on land in front of landowner *
* hunt fail to apply for permit to use Malvern Hills Trust land *

We had a tip-off that the Ledbury Hunt would be out in the Castlemorton area. A quick check of the Malvern Hills Trust website showed that there was no mention of a hunt meet on their land – were the hunt avoiding their land or were the MHT not warning other users in advance of hunt meets? It turned out later that they hadn’t applied for a permit for being on the land and just decided to go there anyway later in the day, having hunted nearby…

One of our sabs headed to check a few setts around the area including one in a stream where the hounds marked to ground a few weeks back and another in a hedgeline where terrierman Tom Stokes (who was out and about on his quad near Castlemorton) prevented a fox going to ground on the same day. On coming back out to the vehicle, the landowner was waiting and seemed to struggle to think of what the hunt actually do, just repeating ‘they hunt within the law’ and trying to change the subject before driving off in a huff. Needless to say, we will continue to check on setts tampered with by the hunt and others.

We picked up one of the monitors from Fox hunt off Malvern Hills (they are fantastic, please check them out!) and found the hunt drawing through some fields and brambles not far from Castlemorton and Welland and for much of the time that we were with the hunt they drew blank *finding no scent) despite spending ages in some areas. A fox ran from the pack, who had split, a handful of hounds on his scent, before the pack followed the scent of another fox into The Stanks. It’s a large area with several coverts and places to hide up and one we don’t think they intended to hunt in, so as they spent little time inland there, we believe that fox managed to make his escape. Hunt supporters were told off for trespass and responded by telling us that we also trespassed (except for the fact that we are not the hunt and we are allowed on the land…).

And then the hunt headed for Castlemorton Common where two foxes were seen making their escape from the hounds and wardens turned up to keep an eye on the hunt as well, supporters loudly taking the piss out of the byelaws whilst standing near wardens and the MHT director, laughing about parking up in areas that were ‘residents only beyond this point’ and driving on to the grass even though they’re not supposed to. Tom Stokes was also present despite terriermen not being allowed on the Common, his overloaded and non-road-legal quadbike driving up on to the hills with the hunt. They packed up soon after, after a long time trying to gather hounds who were spread out through the coverts. We’ll let Fox hunt off Malvern Hills explain more about the MHT policy and how much of it the hunt breached.

Huntsman Mark’s wit hasn’t improved much lately and he referred to our sabs as ‘badger diggers’, referencing our recent disovery of a shot badger in a dug-out sett. We found out that Tom Stokes’ terrier is called Rodney after the character from ‘Only Fools and Horses’. As a vulnerable young man being used by the hunt we wonder if this is a small way of him scoring a point against them…

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