Saturday, 6 October 2012
The Hunt Goes On
I rained for thirteen hours overnight and didn't stop here on Sheppey until about 8.00 this morning. It was much needed in order to cancel out the drought of the last three months and I arrived at the reserve shortly after to immediately notice that ditches and rills were well full at last, perhaps we will get a normal wet winter this year, that'll be nice.
As I drove down the farm track and on to the reserve, I saw that there were several women on horse back in front of me and making their way further along the track, mmm, thinks I, could that be the fox hunt out again. That fact was confirmed as I got out of the car at the reserve barn, in the distance towards Shellness Hamlet I could here the baying of hounds and the huntsman's horn. Birdwatching and checking on the wildfowlers went out of the window as I decided to hurridly make my way round the reserve boundary towards the sound of the hunt. Meanwhile, as I went, a dozen or so women horse riders made their way along the farm track above me, accompanied by two quad bikes on which were terrier men with their terriers in cages on the back. Mmmm, clearly a signal of intent then, not simply exercising the hounds, the hounds chase the fox to ground, the terrier men clean up.
As I made my round the reserve the Hunt Master, resplendent on horse back in his red coat, was controlling the twenty odd fox hounds really well as they made their way across the farmland towards me (the photo above was spoiled by poor light). I picked up my Jack Russells, not wanting them to end up as hound meat, which was a good idea as the pack of hounds easily cleared the boundary fence and briefly surrounded me before moving off along the reserve. They turned out to be of little threat and I asked the Hunt Master to call them back onto the farmland, which with a couple of toots of his horn he quickly did. I then made the Hunt Master aware of the extent of the reserve and the fact that he had briefly also hunted across two RSPB fields without permission, he apologised and the hunt moved away to carry on doing what they have always done.
The fox hunt visits Harty far more regularly these days than it used to do and makes a mockery of those people that think that such hunting is banned - not really, and I'm surprised that those opposed to it are so easily fooled. Me, well while I'm not opposed to the control of foxes, its necessary to successfully manage a reserve for the benefit of ground nesting birds, I need to see them killed instantly with a single shot, rather than chased half way round the countryside first.