Countryside Alliance Director of Campaigns Tim Bonner writes: On 18th November it will be 10 years since the Hunting Act was passed. It came into force three months later. For hunting, and many others in the countryside, this was the lowest moment, but despite all the fears and the dire predictions hunting still thrives. How is it that an activity that was outlawed after an epic and bitter political campaign has survived? There are many reasons, but high amongst them is the determination of a community that rejects every charge made against it, and has never been shown to be doing anything wrong.
Today, practically every hunt that was operating when the ban was passed is still going strong and hunts are still providing an opportunity for people to see hounds work, and in the case of mounted packs, ride across bits of country that they would never normally get the opportunity to venture onto. Hunts report bigger fields than ever before, more youngsters and even people trying hunting for the first time.
Certainly, our Hunting Newcomers’ week, which is currently in full swing, has seen a very pleasing take up across the whole country with a good spread of hunts getting involved, from the Dartmoor in the South West to the Berwickshire in the North, organising events during the designated week to attract new faces to the hunting field. And by ‘events’ I don’t mean just a meet, hunts have tried hard to think outside the box and arrange something that really will encourage an anxious first-timer to venture out. To give a few examples, the Avon Vale held a hunting social evening where Beaufort Huntsman Tony Holdsworth gave a short talk, the Oakley held a newcomers’ ride with hounds followed by a BBQ and tour of the kennels and the Taunton Vale held a pre-hunting schooling day for newcomers’ and less experienced hunters. Pictured above is a six year old enjoying a morning with the South Shropshire.
With many hunts holding their Opening Meet in the next couple of weeks, the success of Newcomers’ Week surely bodes well for the coming season and for many more to come.
Follow Tim on Twitter @CA_TimB
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