This season would be the first full season with controversial huntsman Robert Medcalf taking charge of the hounds after his first season was largely disrupted due to covid and lockdown regulations. Our plans for the season were to hit them as often as possible, which we succeeded at, attending every one of their meets.
The Flint and Denbigh actually started the cubbing season a week later than historically, which is usually the last Saturday of August. So we spent a week, every morning and evening outside the hunt kennels to make sure they didn’t attempt to sneak out. It was obvious to all from the start of cub hunting that this hunt fully intended to hunt illegally. All the tell tale signs of blatant cub hunting, with riders surrounding wooded areas on-point to keep the fox cubs in whilst Medcalf sent the hounds in at the early morning meets. Fortunately sabs were there every meet twice a week to attempt to stop them. We’re pretty certain cubbing took place only twice a week as we’d still be out checking on the hunt on none hunt days. It was clear from the cubbing season that the F&D didn’t have many areas left to hunt, they were now splitting regular meets in half, hunting one part of an area one day then using the other part on another day. The early season tactic seemed to be to blatantly cub hunt but then call the hounds off once they knew they’d been caught on camera. And on numerous occasions we did catch them red handed on camera illegal hunting foxes. We’ve submitted countless examples of illegal fox hunting to North Wales Police.
Following the guilty verdict of the head of the Masters of foxhounds Mark Hankinson, and maybe to some point the appointment of a new Police Crime Commissioner who is openly anti hunt, we did see an improvement in the policing of the hunt. Well early on in the season the police did seem to be taking us seriously but this seemed to fade as the season went on. The Flint and Denbighs opening full meet is always the last Saturday of October. This season the hunt tried to pull a fast one and moved to opening meet to the Friday before. As we mentioned above we randomly drop in on the hunt just to make sure they don’t try sneak out, so this “terribly good wheeze” turned out not to be.
At the start of the full hunting season the F&D appeared to be using the same tactics as they did during cubbing. Hunt illegally then move off once the antis have caught them red handed. And that’s how it went for a few weeks, our dedicated team out every meet filming the hunt blatantly illegally hunting and moving them on. Towards the end of November however there seemed to be a change from the hunt. At one meet from the off it was blatantly apparent the hunt were not bothered about being caught, it was like something from pre-ban hunting. The hunt killed on this day with some absolutely shocking scenes. This case in still under investigation like a few others so we’re not going to go into great detail just yet. The following Tuesdays meet was the same again from the hunt. Blatantly and deliberately hunting foxes right in front of us and our cameras.
Towards the end of December the hunt had once again changed their tactics. Now with the Rural Crime Team out actually appearing to be monitoring the hunt, the Flint and Denbigh actually started to behave themselves a little better. We’re not too sure what it was the Rural Crime Team thought they were doing but for a couple of weeks it did make the hunt behave themselves. The RCT were following the “trail layers” who were supposedly laying trails. Probably 17 years too late for Sgt Dewi and his team as it’s already been proven in a court of law that “trail laying” is a “smokescreen” and “a sham”. Another obvious point was the hounds rarely went anywhere near the smokescreen trails. It’s a fact that after a trail has been laid the hounds only have 20minute to go over that line otherwise the scent will have evaporated. But in the case of the Flint and Denbigh hunt it is very doubtfully that a scent was even put on the rag dragged around by Michael Lord Trailliar. When hounds are legitimately following a trail (which is very rare but we have witnessed examples of it) the hounds sniff the ground and start to speak and follow the exact line that the trail had been laid on. None of this happened on any of the rare occasions that the hunt actually went in the same direction as the smokescreen trail layers. We were with this hunt every meet for 6months and NOT ONCE did they ever follow a trail.
Where we’d also been very successful this season was targeting a little secret of the Flint and Denbigh hunt and hitting their Thursday foot hunts. Our research over the summer months had lead us to be focusing on the secret foot meets that the Flint and Denbigh hold once the full season has started. What happened on Thursdays this season is what we’ve got to call a massive success. The Flint and Denbigh hunt wouldn’t leave the kennels once we were there early in the mornings. They are extremely reluctant to be caught out on foot as they’ve yet to come up with a good enough excuse for what they could be up to out on foot. On one occasion when we were slightly late getting up to the kennels in Cefn Meiriadog the hunt had already left. Fortunately we found them just up the road in Henllan. As soon as they realised they’d been foiled they immediately headed back to the hound van and packed up. When we called to police to alert them the hunt were out on foot they were shocked as the hunt have never mentioned to the police they have Thursday meets on foot, a bit like the Tuesday meets they regularly forgot to tell the police about.
The hunt with not many meetings points to go to tried to gain some land visiting areas they hadn’t for years. One being Bodrhyddan Hall which they weren’t invited back to, although the hunt are still using land belongs to Lord Langfords estate the hunt weren’t invited back to meet at the Hall. Another meet they tried to regain was Caerwys/Tremeichion. They only went back there the one though after causing havoc with the locals as they blatantly hunted and blocked the public roads. Around the Christmas/New Year period it was noted that the head of the hunt Davina Fetherstonehaugh wasn’t out with the hunt, and didn’t attend another hunt all season. All very bizarre the hunt also stopped using her estate at Coed Coch in Dolwen. We can only speculate as to what has gone on here but one theory is with Harry Fetherstonehaugh being the Lord Lieutenant of Clwyd that they don’t want to be associated with all the investigations ongoing again this hunt… it doesn’t look good does is that the Lord Lieutenant of Clwyd is associated with organised crime.
The second half the season and the hunt had gone back to blatant and illegal fox hunting and by now they were forgetting to tell the police they were going out as they changed some of their hunt days, changed the time of their midweek meets and more often did a runner out of Wales to join other hunts. There were also numerous times the hunt were caught trespassing on Natural Resources Wales land and Council owned land. They were also caught trespassing in Llanelidan and in Trefnant where landowners have started to turn on the hunt.
In summary due to sabs hitting the Flint and Denbigh hunt more than ever before, the hunt lost more supporters more land and any last bit of credibility they may have thought they had. Let’s hope the Flint and Denbigh hunts demise continues next season and the demise of all hunts.