29th January ’22 – North Cotswold Hunt

Foxes, fake trail layers, aggression and lies… all in a day’s visit to the North Cotswold Hunt.

We had a tip-off that the North Cotswold were meeting in the Kineton area and so we headed out this morning and caught up with them near to the Cotswold Farm Park. As a sab walked inland on a footpath, the fake trail layer telling her that there was no footpath despite the sign clearly visible, hounds began to pick up a scent in a nearby covert.

Hunt supporters, including Molly Rogers and a rider on point made loud noises to prevent any foxes from escaping towards the sab stationed on the road. As foot sab approached the covert, members of the field (mounted followers) rode around her to prevent her from being able to film or rate the hounds as a fox ran from a corner of the trees. The sab managed to rate the hounds from a distance, slowing them up somewhat, until Tim Pearce-May (ex-Ledbury whipper-in) encouraged them onwards.

Despite threatening behaviour from an angry male who wanted our sab to “p*ss off” and “f*ck off” and who called her a “f*cking c*nt” sab carried on behind the hunt as others got round ahead of where the hounds were heading. Having lost that scent, likely due to the strong wind conditions and the fox running through a field of sheep and across a road, thus ensued a long period of time where the hunt drew and re-drew the same area of land*.

*the shooting season limits the amount of land available to hunt, though it will end soon and free up more areas

At one point hounds streamed through an area in full cry, losing the line at times due to the strong wind conditions (the scent can get blown around in strong wind) and headed toward a covert which hunt riders stationed themselves at. A fox made his way down a wall, was headed by a number of hunt supporters standing at a barn, and fox turned and ran across an open field, filmed by a sab inland. Hounds followed the line on and off, but ended up briefly on his heal line (meaning they were on the line, but going in the wrong direction, so towards where the fox had come from) before hunt staff gathered them and moved on.

Sabs were told off again for trespassing… whilst on a public byway… and back on the road one female stalker tried to tell her male friend that the sab she was with was “really aggressive” – was the point to rile him up to get angry at the sab? Or to try to damage the reputation of the sab in her own footage? We have much of the day on film – we can prove that no aggression ever comes from us. Nice try, but it’s not going to fly.

We stayed with the hunt until they did a runner up towards Nayles Larch and Slatepits, large areas of land with lots of coverts, where we were able to get close, but due to the hunt being relayed our every location they constantly try to get away from us (like anyone with absolutely nothing to hide……). They packed up just before dusk.

We are currently reviewing our footage – we have three SD cards to go through, so no video tonight. Thanks as always to our amazing supporters – those who call in tip-offs and updates, those gathering intel silently on the ground, drivers, financial donors and everyone else who works with us. Until next time!

25th January ’22 – Heythrop Hunt

Thames Valley Police and the Badger Trust have been informed about the meet today. Regarding the A361, this is a very busy fast road. The hounds were slowly making out the scent and could have been stopped long before they reached the road. They did call them back inland but may not have done if one of us had not been there with a camera. as can be seen, 2 hounds are on the busy road with no road sense whatsoever. It is not their fault, they are trained to hunt and think of nothing other than that when in the field.

26th January ’22 – Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt

A long day out today as the Beaufort and Sinnington were holding a joint meet in Beaufort country down at Tormarton, not far from where the Beaufort kennels are in Badminton.

The day started with a rider pretending to lay trails (which the hounds subsequently ignored) and hounds picked up on another scent and ran towards the crossroads just north of Tormarton where they checked (lost the scent).

Across the road then to the south and over to a covert where hounds seemed vaguely interested in a scent, so the hunt spent over half an hour faffing around there hoping hounds would pick up. They didn’t. Support were overheard complaining about being bored.

The hunt normally enjoy drawing Brotton Hill and Faggot Pile, but with presence of foot sabs they passed straight by and crossed over towards Acton Turville by the motorway bridge. Up towards Centre Walk then some other coverts where they drew blank too (failed to pick up on a scent) then they galloped off and over the railway to Newhouse Farm. To the north of the road hounds picked up and hunted towards a covert where they lost the scent and a well-placed foot sab was able to rate hounds, until hunt staff took over, when they rioted on deer.

Second-horse and refreshments then ensued, followed by hounds picking up inland to the north and running several miles (sabs in tow) towards the A46. A hunt rider proceeded to drag a piece of cloth along the side of the road next to traffic, pretending to be laying a trail for our cameras… along a road? Interesting…

Again they missed some favourite coverts, including seven mile plantation and once one run was over, they galloped off over several fields and into Badminton Estate instead. We caught up with them near Worcester Lodge, drawing blank through several coverts before again running away from various coverts they normally enjoy and over to Sopworth where they picked up and gave chase to a couple of foxes before packing up in the dark.

Our foot sabs estimate they covered at least 9 miles today, the hunts preferring to try to lose us by running for miles within largely landlocked areas and covering a huge amount of country instead of hunting properly and thoroughly drawing coverts. Some very gentlemanly behaviour from one Beaufort rider who called one of our sabs a “stupid bitch” when she was simply walking along, and a terrierman who screeched “fuck off!” at her later in the day…

22nd January ’22 – Cotswold Hunt

“You’re like Covid-19, you get everywhere!”

Nothing super exciting to report from Saturday’s outing, so we’ll summarise it like so…

– hunt met in Hazelton village and headed straight to Hazelton Grove from the meet, where the pack picked up on a fox

– fox ran through a sheep field and a field where a number of hares had been running, helping to disrupt the scent somewhat

– foot team inland relayed hunt’s position to other foot team and driver while hunt rider reported our claim to have the fox on camera

– pack rioted on hare soon after right by the A40 (meaning they accidentally pick up the scent of a hare instead of a fox)

– we caught up with the hunt inland near Turkdean, where they avoided coverts which they knew we had been checking setts in

– numerous deer, hares and birds were disrupted during the day while the hunt circled round and went back to coverts they’d just passed by 30mins before (unhappy that foot sabs kept popping up at them regardless)

– we also learned that misogyny is mistaken for “being a gentleman” in this area…

24th January ’22 – Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt

We headed south this morning to join up with members of Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch who continue to show amazing dedication to tackling wildlife crime. The Beaufort met in Long Newnton just outside of Tetbury and headed towards Shipton Woods where our sabs caught up with them.

North then and back towards Long Newnton where we believe a brace of foxes (two foxes) were flushed from a covert, one spotted escaping from the hunt past our driver near the road, one of the foot teams stopping the pack temporarily which gave the foxes some valuable extra seconds. The pack picked up again with help from hunt staff, but the line took them to a covert which had been pre-sprayed before the meet, where they struggled to find the scent of the fox, again giving the fox extra time.

The pack were gathered and headed back south where another sab was waiting for them (splitting into small teams means we can relay info to each other and different teams can get in front of where the hunt is going, especially with the expert local knowledge of CIHW members). By Newnton House two holloas were heard in quick succession by the sab, indicating sighting of a fox and as we descended from different directions hunt staff were calling the pack off.

Towards the meet now, hounds picked up on another fox, a small vixen who ran down a hedgeline only 3 or 4 metres in front of lead hounds who followed her across a minor road. We rated the hounds, while alerting a couple of cars to their presence until hunt staff came to gather them and move them away.

We weren’t with the pack all day, but enough to hamper some of their efforts!

21st January ’22 – 3C car tyres slashed

*** Sab vehicle damaged overnight – 4 tyres slashed ***

Update: thank you so much to our supporters, we appreciate the lovely messages, the shares and the donations. You’re all amazing!

On Wednesday West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs had 3 tyres slashed at the Worcestershire Hunt while we were sabbing them. As one of us was also at the meet it is possible that someone associated with this hunt was responsible.

West Midland have photos of those suspected to have slashed their tyres on their social media pages.The estimated cost of replacing the tyres is £270 and we are unlikely to be back on the road until next week. We would really appreciate some help with the cost of the repairs, either financially or by sharing this post.

Our link is PayPal.me/threecountiessabs

19th January ’22 – Worcestershire Hunt

One of our sabs found 2 very recently blocked badger setts near the hunt meet. Fresh spade marks and big boot prints could be seen in the spoil. West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs arrived and found the hunt near Wolverton, three tyres were slashed on their vehicle with a knife and whilst some waited for the recovery vehicle, 2 of us went off to continue to keep and eye on the hunt.

This was just as well because near Preston Bagot church a fox was hunted through some gardens and escaped into a hole. Sabs being present as the hounds marked to ground meant that he was not dug out nor was he bolted to be hunted again. Roderick Wilson, huntsman, packed up just before 16.00 after this incident. Huge thanks to those who rang us today telling us where the hunt had gone.

14th January ’22 – Ledbury Hunt

*** Badger sett dug out in Ledbury hunt country within the last 24 hours * 4 other setts found blocked ***

Today was very cold and very foggy. A hard frost can harm horses’ legs and hounds’ paws, whilst thick fog is very dangerous as no one can see where the hounds are if they run. Hunts often get cancelled in severe weather but they often don’t and another scenario is those who want to hunt turning up at the meet and then seeing if the fog lifts or the ground softens. They can also go out on foot. So sabs and monitors have to check to see what is going on. As the hunt themselves are often not sure as whether or not they are cancelling the same preparation for a hunt will occur.

Today 5 freshly blocked active badger setts were found. Sadly one of them had a very large backfilled hole indicative of a dig out of either a fox or badger. We do not know the fate of those who were in the sett and West Mercia Police and the Badger Trust have been informed. It is not certain whether the Ledbury cancelled, whether they were ridiculous enough to hunt in very thick fog today and they just were not seen or whether they hunted yesterday (there were some hoofprints in the usual haunts). What ever the case the hard frost made the earth blocking the entrances boulder like and difficult to move. Regardless of whether or not hunts go out, sett checking can save lives and they will not bother unblocking if they cancel.

11th & 12 January ’22 – Heythrop & NCH

*** NCH cause chaos around Badsey * Heythrop cause chaos near Blediington ***

Tuesday 11th Jan: the Heythrop were causing chaos at what appears to have been a joint meet with either the Kimblewick or the Berkeley Hunt near Bledington (the huntsman was wearing yellow/mustard so it was one of these hunts). We were told, “They briefly rode past Pebbly Hill shortly after 3 and headed up the bridleway towards the B4450. Two hounds were left behind and just seemed to be doing their own thing. All was quiet. Then at 4 all hell broke loose. One Huntsman (yellow jacket) with hounds at the back of our property, no other riders, the hounds had gone ahead of him. About 15 hounds got onto our land and into the paddock with my 3 horses, which wound them up. The rest of the pack ended up in next doors (the stud) stable yard. Owner gives them permission onto her land but pretty sure it wouldn’t include the yard with her very expensive dressage horses! I ran across to the boundary hedge, by the time I’d got there the lone Huntsman had vanished and left some young chap with a quad to get the hounds together. Words were exchanged and minutes later more words exchanged out on the lane between myself and my mum and riders and quad men. The hounds and Huntsman seemed to just vanish. 4.30 there was one lone hound out on the road. 6pm (pitch black) we could hear the horn, presumably still trying to get his hounds back.”

Wednesday 12th Jan: West Midlands sabs stopped the NCH on a fox near Downrip farm as stalkers attempted to stop a 3C sab walking on a footpath. They then came towards Badsey Lane on a scent but called the hounds back when they saw a sab stood there with a camera. Then on to the old railway where sabs were in the right position to make sure that they did not hunt foxes. Ten minutes later they were in a factory hunting 2 foxes in front of lorries, workers and passers by. One fox went to ground and hounds were gathered up and moved away very quickly. It was then a matter of Ollie Dale trying to put hounds along hedge and then back along the old railway for an early pack up at 15.00. A very successful day and thanks to West Midlands Sabs for joining with one of us.

7th January ’22 – Ledbury Hunt JOINT MEET with Quorn

*** Fox marked to ground * 5 blocked badger setts * Local people subjected to their homes being invaded ***

Update: In December ’22, former Quorn huntsman Ollie Finnegan pleaded guilty to illegally hunting having been reported by sabs on the ground on this day, and then being investigated by both Gloucestershire and Leicestershire rural crime teams – see our article for more info!

One of us joined with Herefordshire Hunt Sabs who kept an eye on them from the meet and around Rudford. The 3C sab stayed at Catspury Hill where terriermen from several hunts arrived before the hounds on quads with no number plates, including those from North Cotswold who drank tea and introduced themselves to one another.

When Quorn huntsman Ollie Finnegan put the Quorn pack into Carter’s Grove sabs spent the next few hours trying to limit the chaos. A fox was hunted over to the back of Corsend farm and tried to escape down a badger sett that was freshly blocked. They went back into Carter’s Grove and a brace of foxes were seen trying to escape, and another fox went to ground, escaping the hounds with a Herefordshire sab on the scene to make sure that they left him alone.

Back then to Corsend farm and before long both Ollie Finnegan and Mark Meladay (Ledbury huntsman) were seen going hell for leather down Blackwell’s End WITHOUT the hounds. The Quorn pack were doing their own thing unsupervised, which meant invading the homes of local people who were very upset and distraught at the pack trying to kill a fox in front of them.

Once Ollie had got the pack out they then went to Ashleworth and into the water meadows drawing towards Haw Bridge. At least then in the dark they decided not to draw where they had planned as sabs were ready to film them and went back to box up at Stonebow farm.

This is in Gloucestershire badger cull zone one, in its ninth year of culling and with the free shooting of badgers being allowed until the end of January. All setts found blocked today have been targeted by the badger cull. Another 4 badger setts were found freshly blocked!