Glossary of Terms and Phrases

Elsewhere on our page we have a glossary of hunting terms and instructions which explains a large number of things you may hear or read in hunting books and sab reports – that glossary uses terms that hunt people will use. The glossary that follows here covers some of those same terms and phrases, but also others that anti-hunt people use that aren’t traditional hunting terms

“All on” – all of the hounds are gathered together before moving on

“Antis” – that be us! Also known as saboteurs, sabs or monitors

“Artificial earth” – a false earth (fox’s home) built by the hunt to encourage a fox population in the area and to hold foxes ready for hunting

“Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles” – the governing body of registered hare hound packs

“Bailey’s Hunting Directory” – an annual directory which lists every registered hunt worldwide along with officials (masters, the hunt secretary, huntsman, whipper-in, point to point secretary, DC) and contact details, kennel address. Was obtainable until 2005 when the Hunting Act came into force and was a hard copy, red colour complete with hunting map. Now digitalised and password protected

“Bagged foxes” – a practice that even many hunters look down upon which involves the capture (or breeding) of a fox in advance of the hunt, often the mistreatment of the fox to weaken it, and the release of the fox right near to the hounds during the hunt

“to Bay” – this when a terrier barks at a fox in order to bolt them, or guide the diggers to the location. Hounds also bay, either whilst hunting a line or marking an earth. To ‘stand at bay’ is when the fox (or deer) turns to face the hounds at close quarters to defend themselves when they can no longer run

“Blank” – the hunt draws blank when they fail to find a scent or put up a quarry animal from the area they were searching – the covert can be said to be ‘blank’ and the day can be called a ‘blank day’ if no quarry was found

“Blooding” – the practice of putting blood from the hunted animal on the face of a new recruit or child, an initiation rite supposedly discontinued – ‘to blood children is to initiate them as foxhunters by daubing each cheek with the blood of a fresh killed fox’ (DWE Brock)

“Bolt” – to scare a fox from a drain, for example

“Brace” – a brace of foxes is two foxes, often seen running together from hounds during mating season – be aware of this when foxes start to pair up as one may be following another or running in another direction

“Break” – when a fox runs he ‘breaks covert’

“Brush” – a colloquial term for the tail of a fox

“Buttons” – awarded by hunts to those deemed worthy to wear them. It can be a ‘coming of age’ matter for the children of hunt members and officials, or given after a year or so of hunting or after a big donation to the hunt. Women and farmers will continue to wear black coats with hunt colours on their collars and men can then wear a red coat (or whatever the hunt livery is). There are lots of regional variations – the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt subscribers wear the ‘blue and buff’ blue coats with white facings, the hunt servants and huntsman wear green and farmers can opt to wear black with hunt buttons. All registered hunt buttons and colours are listed in the Bailey’s directory

“Bye-day” – an additional day of hunting not on the meet card

“Car please” – what we might say if we want to get past a road-block…

“Cast/ing” – hounds are cast to look for the line of the quarry (the scent) either by the huntsman or left to make their own cast

“Cubbing” – the proper term for “Autumn Hunting” when hounds are trained, usually by coverts being surrounded and noise made to stop foxes escaping – any foxes who do escape will be seen as ‘good sport’ as they’ll be good runners for the main season

“Check” – when hounds lose a scent and try to pick up – a good time to try and lift their heads or rate them as they’re not fully on a line

“Chop” – killing without a chase e.g. if a fox was scared out of a hedgerow straight into hounds and was killed

“Country” – the area/s in which a pack will hunt – each registered pack has its own country with borders; different maps exist for fox hunts, mink hunts, stag hunts, etc. but these areas change over time as hunts amalgamate, dissolve or new hunts register

“Couple” – hounds are counted in couples, so 7 couple would be 14 hounds, 7 and a half couple would be 15

“Coursing” – hunting by sight e.g. lurchers hunting hare or when foxhounds are right behind a fox and are now hunting by sight instead of following the scent

“Covert” – an area, like a small woodland or hedgerow, where a trail would be laid or a fox’s scent picked up on

“Draw” – the huntsman will ‘draw’ the hounds through a wood or hedgerow, etc. to look for a scent

“Dig-out” – if a fox has ‘gone to ground’ the terriermen may try to flush, dig-out or bolt the fox either for the hounds to continue hunting or kill at the scene or for the terriermen to shoot / bag up for later – often involves the use of terriers below ground and digging down with spades

“Draft” – hounds that are sent to or received from another pack

“Draw/ing” – putting hounds into an area and moving them through to try and find a scent; can also refer to hounds being ‘drawn out’ of the main pack for hunting, to feed them up, for treatment, etc.

“Earth” – a fox’s home in the ground

“Earth-stopper” – someone employed by the hunt to block or ‘stop’ earths, drains and setts (and other areas a fox may hide up) before a hunt takes place in the area. Used to be a paid job and earth-stoppers would be informed by card as to where to stop and when, though it is now more of a voluntary role played by terriermen / farmers / hunt servants / gamekeepers

“Feathering” – when the hounds have picked up on a scent but aren’t ‘right on it’ and are not speaking to it

“Field” – the mounted riders who are there as spectators and support (or those following on foot if it is not a mounted pack e.g. beagles)

“Flush” – scare out an animal to be hunted

“Foil” – smells or disturbed ground which spoils the line of scent (sheep, slurry, citronella, petrol fumes, etc.)

“to Gather” – when the huntsman blows certain notes on the hunting horn to gather the hounds together or to signal the end of hunting for the day – to ‘blow the gather’

“Gone to ground” – when the hunted animal has escaped into an earth / sett / drain or another place that hounds can not get into – also see ‘to go to ground’

“Harbourer” – a local deer expert employed by a stag hunt to select a suitable stag for hunting

“Head” – anyone (hunt support or anti-hunt) could head a fox if they scare it back into where the hounds are hunting (on purpose or by accident) by running into an area or making a noise

“Heel-line” – if the hounds are running along the ‘heel-line’ of a scent it means they’re going the opposite direction to the quarry

“Hireling” – a horse hired for a day’s hunting

“Holding up” – surrounding an area, usually making some noise, to stop the quarry running in that direction

“Holloa” – a shout made to indicate the sighting of a fox or other quarry – we also holloa to try and lift the heads of the hounds or bring them to us and off the line of the quarry

“Horn” – carried by the huntsman (and sometimes the whipper-in) to control the hounds using different calls

“Hound” – any canine that hunts using scent

“Hound exercise” – hounds are taken out for long walks when they are not out hunting. It is done first thing in the morning, and in many cases the evening too, in the summer on foot or on bikes, then on horses as it gets closer to the beginning of cubhunting. Some hunts are now making events out of this in order to raise money and can be mistaken for cubhunting

“Hunt staff” – the huntsman, whipper-in and masters

“In cry” – ‘on cry’ is also used – it is a sab term derived from ‘in full cry’ for when hounds have confidently picked up a scent and are following fast, speaking excitedly

“Jink” – a sudden, sharp turn made by a hunted animal to evade the hounds giving chase

“Lawn meet” – a sociable event at the start of the hunt where the hosts of the meet are present and (in the words of a hunter) ‘their pouring arms may be a little too generous’ at times

“Leash” – three foxes

“Lifting the pack” – the huntsman taking the pack on, often when they have lost the line and he wants to take them to where the hunted animal has run in order to pick up the scent again

“Line” – the scent left by a live animal or the laying of the trail

“Locator” – a radio device used to track signals from a device attached to a terrier’s collar before going underground – the terrierman will have a handheld device to locate them

“Marking” – ‘marking to ground’ is an indication by the hounds to the huntsman that the quarry has hidden up in a hole in the ground (an earth, sett, artificial earth, etc.) – pawing the ground, baying, trying to follow into the hole

“Masters of Foxhounds Association” – the governing body over registered foxhound packs in the UK

“Meet” – where the hunt and support meet up at the beginning of the hunting day

“Mob” – when hounds surround a fox in covert and kill without there being a chance for them to escape; an exhausted fox may also be mobbed by corvids if they see him ‘sinking’

“On point” – a rider may go ‘on point’ at the corner of a woodland in order to look out for a fox running from the area

“Opening meet” – the start of formal hunting – the start of the ‘main season’

“Pick up” – hounds ‘pick up’ on a scent

“Pony Club” – each hunt has a branch of the Pony Club, though Pony Clubs are not always associated with a hunt

“Put up” – e.g. you could ‘put up’ a hare if you walked in an area of a field where a beagle pack were hunting

“Quarry” – the term for the hunted animal

“Ratcatcher” – a tweed jacket which is the official dress for mounted followers during Autumn Hunting and for visitors to a hunt

“Rate” – to stop the hounds by reprimanding them in a loud, stern voice when they stray from the pack or riot, etc. and this can be accompanied by whip cracking which they are trained to stop to

“Ribbons” – applied to a horse’s tail to communicate to others – usually only used for two things… red for a horse that has kicked out before and green for a horse who is new to hunting

“Riot” – hounds ‘riot’ when they start hunting someone they’re not supposed to e.g. the Cotswold Vale Farmers’ Hunt tend to pick up on deer quite a lot…

“to Run Down” – to catch a fox on open land – to exhaust and out-manoeuvre them, often after a lengthy hunt

“Saddle slapping” – used when ‘holding up’ as a way of making noise with hands or whip to stop the hunted animal from running in that direction

“Save” – a word we very rarely use out sabbing unless we actually take a fox from a pack of hounds or stop a dig-out – most of the time all we do is give the hunted animal a few extra seconds to escape – even if we stop the hounds entirely on a scent, the animal may have still got away without us…

“Season” – the time period in which hunting will take place

“Sett” – a badger’s home in the ground

“Sinking” – a fox is said to be ‘slipping’ or ‘sinking’ when he becomes exhausted. Often looking bedraggled, sometimes the fox has collapsed only to rally and move on again although foxes may escape the hounds and die later from shock

“Speak” – hounds ‘speak’ when they pick up on a scent

“Tally ho” – listen out for this as it will indicate the sighting of the hunted animal (also look out for the raising of a cap) and may be called by the huntsman to encourage the hounds

“Terriers” – type of dog used below ground to locate, and often fight with, a fox either to flush them out or in order for the terriermen to locate the fox and dig down and kill