Melissa Kite Melissa Kite

Sabs don’t want to stop fox-hunting; they never did

That’s why they dress up in balaclavas and boiler suits and try to thwart a pretend hunt

Devotee of the old ways though I am, I can just about understand why a misguided animal lover might oppose fox-hunting.

If you enjoy eating KFC while pretending the chicken you are eating hasn’t suffered, then it follows that you will worry about the feelings of a fox who would rip the same chicken to pieces if it were kept in nicer conditions. It doesn’t make any sense, or help animals, but it is something sentimentalists do.

I cannot begin to understand, however, why such a person would oppose pretend hunting.

I can grasp perfectly well why one would have to sneak around if one were hunting foxes. But I’m struggling with the concept of sneaking around as one doesn’t hunt foxes. Hunt saboteurs? Yes, I see that. Sabs trying to thwart a pretend hunt? Sorry, I just don’t get it.

There I was in my best navy jacket, the hunter pony all plaited up for a day out. The runner had set off with his sack of eau de fox, jogging laboriously across a field. After a speech from the hunt master, we all set off after him, hounds first then the field of riders.

You can tell you are trail hunting because it isn’t at all the same. When you were real hunting the hounds went off like the clappers and got on a scent. Pretend hunting, they lumber along in a straight line following the boring pre-laid smell of ‘here’s one I shot earlier’.

They must know it’s that or permanent unemployment, because they look as enthusiastic as they can. If you stare into the eyes of one of these formerly proud beasts, his hangdog expression will remind you of nothing so much as a former City boy who, since the banking crisis, has been reassessed by some ghastly job centre and told they must put on an apron and stack shelves in Tesco.

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