Saturday, 27 November 2004


The Hunt

A slow start this morning meant there wouldn't be time to complete the walk I'd intended to do before dark. Instead I drove round the villages on the Hoo peninsula through which the walk will pass.

[Dogs hunting hare in a field near Allhallows]

Driving out of Allhallows I unexpectedly found myself in the middle of a hunt. The pack of 30-40 beagles were hunting a single hare that had been spotted in the field earlier. They were being led by perhaps a dozen hunters on foot.

This is only the second time I've seen a hunt in progress. It will almost certainly be the last.

I can't deny that hunters make a glorious sight in their proud uniforms of alternating green and white: hats, cravats, jackets, trousers and socks. As I chatted with them, one huntsman tucked into a ham sandwich, his carefully trimmed moustache somehow accentuating the stereotype of his dress.

[Hunters at the side of the road]

My instinct is that hunting for sport is inappropriate. And that's what today's activity seemed to be about. I was told that no animal had been caught as yet, and that it was the hunters who approached the landowners for permission to hunt (rather than farmers asking hunts to help them with population control, as some would have us believe).

The events of recent months have shown that both sides of the hunting debate hold firm to their opinions. But it's the actions and voices of the pro-hunting lobby that have swayed me. I can't support their increasingly violent attacks, and I certainly can't agree with them when they say that the House of Commons overruling the House of Lords "is not democracy".

Was today the last time I'll see the pageant of the hunt? I hope not. There's nothing wrong with dressing up to go for a walk with your dogs, but I'm not convinced you need to savage animals in the process.

A couple of miles further west at Manor Farm Cliffe, men in tweed jackets were gathering with their guns. Their were glum faces suggested that they too felt that shooting would be next.

As a walker who'd equally dislike meeting a pack of angry dogs, or band of men with guns mid-walk I'm not sure I mind.

Posted by pab at 19:29 | Comments will be back later in the year. Please email me instead!