The Countryside Alliance’s annual Hunting Newcomers’ Week (21-28 October) saw hundreds of new faces taking to the hunting field for the first time with many vowing to return at the earliest opportunity.
With thanks to hunts throughout the UK, those willing to try the experience were invited to attend a range of specific newcomer’s meets or other events such as hunting clinics and ditch-jumping sessions. Reports from both the organisers and those attending have been very positive, confirming there is an appetite for packs to continue to engage with this dedicated week.
“We had a brilliant weekend,” explained Fizz Shearcroft, organiser of the Royal Artillery’s two-day newcomers’ extravaganza which included a number of informative talks and practical demonstrations with topics discussed such as horn blowing, etiquette and hunting history. “We were at maximum capacity and two new subscribers signed up straight away which is fantastic.”
Polly Portwin, the Countryside Alliance’s Head of Hunting who has been co-ordinating the week said: “We are grateful to all the packs that continue to host specific meets and other events. These dedicated days are the perfect introduction to hunting for those young or old, and they are also welcomed by those returning to hunting after a break who want to experience another day out with hounds.”
“The feedback has been very positive and despite increased urbanisation in some areas and pressure from animal-rights activists, it is refreshing to know that there are a large number of people still wanting to find out more about their local pack and become involved.”
This year, the Countryside Alliance encouraged newcomers to enter our competition to write about their experience by explaining what made them want to take part and what they enjoyed about their day.
The winners will be announced next week, however, please find below a selection of some of the comments received:
“I feel I have found a group of friends, a community, who have welcomed me from the minute I arrived. I have already bought my hunt ball ticket and can’t wait for my next outing!” – Cath Spedding
“We attended some hound exercise first and you never forget that lovely smell of hounds. Everyone has a different memory of it. For me it’s exciting and now I feel like that smell comes with autumn.” – Kay Thompson, Percy Hunt
“My first thoughts were that it was ‘such an adventure’. I used to play in the woods pretending I was a horse when I was younger, jumping fallen trees and branches. This is what I did when I went hunting, but I was on a horse this time” – 13-year-old Josephine Towns
*Photo by John Eccles from the Royal Artillery’s newcomers’ week.