13th December ’19 – Ledbury Hunt

The day started with sabs finding a blocked sett not far from Town Street Farm (the meet) near where the hunt were drawing through a root field. A huge amount of earth (which was heavy with clay and sodden, so stuck in large lumps) had been used to block the entrances so some were unblocked to allow foxes in and badgers to get out and safely reopen their sett from outside.

This sett is within the West Gloucestershire cull zone, a cull zone which is still active and is likely to be for several more weeks. Town Street Farm / Wigwood Farm, where hounds were searching for a scent next to cows in barns, is highlighted as having 4 separate incidents of bTB over the last few years, only regaining bTB-free status in February. Not a great place to hold hunt meets for a hunt who regularly mark to ground and block badger setts then if you’re blaming badgers for the disease…

Huntsman Mark Melladay was clearly over-excited about his new joke (it started on Monday, calling us ‘badger diggers’ due to us finding a shot badger stuffed into a blocked badger sett in November) and he couldn’t help repeating it with a proud grin on his face. Other riders obviously believed they could take some of the credit for this unprecedented level of wit by merely yelling it at us louder as they rode by… we’ve evolved to ‘badger baiters’ now apparently, though as that activity involves the use of dogs, so Melladay is clearly not au fait with his country ‘sports’.

Unsurprisingly the general election result was brought up and at this point we should apologise to those that follow our page… because if the laughter and jokes directed at us by hunt staff were anything to go by, it would appear that we have falsely given the impression that we are a group that relies on political parties and authorities to create change instead of taking grassroots action ourselves. And we are not.

Obviously many of the general public are upset with the outcome of the election, and sabs did vote in their respective areas, but regardless of who ended up in power today people would still be sleeping on the streets tonight, others would be out killing and disturbing wildlife and so on. Whatever side of the hunting argument you’re on, whatever privilege you have, step up and use it to help others.

It’s business as usual for us, as it would have been whatever we woke up to. 5th day out in a row this week as sabs.

And so back to the hunt… they picked up near Haw Bridge, traffic having to slow down on the busy main road as riders put drivers in danger once again in the area, hounds in brambles just metres from the road. They ran to behind Town Street and then past Cumberwood Farm before losing the scent and trying to pick up again in Wigwood Farm, cows in barns almost nose to nose with hounds. They failed to find and moved on. They returned to Haw Bridge again and just about got the pack across the road safely, Melladay and his whipper-in using the whips, that Melladay swore under oath a few years back were purely ornamental, to keep hounds from straying. A lying huntsman? Who’d have thought?

We lost them on and off through the afternoon, though they drew blank several times when we were with them in Ashleworth and Hasfield until they packed up just before 4pm.

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