Our hunting friend from the British Lakeland Fells, Ron Black, forwarded this delightful video of several sessions of pub singing back in 2000 of hunting and humorous songs, doubtless featuring friends and neighbors of his own from the North of England.
Foxhunting in Ireland much resembles joining the WWII Japanese Kamikaze corps.
I particularly enjoyed the “Go on, Tom!” “It’s not deep!” part.
*French hunts are all called either “Rallyes” or “Équipages.” They wear more old-fashioned and elaborate uniforms than British or American hunts. Ladies sometimes wear tricorn hats, and may be seen flaunting dashing Inverness-style coats. In most cases, a lot of the hunters will carry and play round hunting horns. Where British and American hunts use only a very limited repertoire of horn calls and signals, each French hunt has its own elaborate polyphonic fanfare, and in addition to many complex musical tunes for all sorts of occasions, there are even entire masses composed for French hunting horn. French hunts, instead of the fox or the hare, often pursue much larger quarry, like the red deer (the European equivalent of our elk) or the wild boar.
All this certainly looks like great fun.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
Kyle Naegeli is 15-years-old, and has been catching 1-2 lb. bullhead catfish out of the storm drain in front of his house in Katy, Texas.
Members of the West Midlands Ledbury Hunt conduct a riding “Hen Do” (female-version of a bachelor party) riding over hunt territory in formal hunt attire, recorded by one of the participants wearing a helmet cam. Go, Bertie!
Hat tip to Jessie Swan.
The Wolver Beagles celebrated their hundred anniversary of operation as an organized hunting pack this fall. By my count, Wolver is the fifth oldest beagle pack in the United States, preceded only by the Waldingfield Beagles (founded 1885), the Somerset Beagles (founded 1888, disbanded 1922), the Sir Sister Beagles (founded 1897), and Richard Gambrill’s Vernon Somerset Beagles (founded 1912, disbanded 1953). Only two older beagle packs still survive, and Wolver can additionally boast a more continuous operation under fewer masters than any other beagle pack in America.
Wolver’s colors, displayed on the collar, are buff with light blue piping. Wolver is a private pack, operating out of Middleburg, Virginia and hunting only bitch hounds. Wolver is recognized everywhere as a crack pack, performing typically at a superior level and winning far more than its share of competitions.
Barbara Riggs produced an article on Wolver’s history appearing this week in the Chronicle of the Horse.
I will remain what I am until I die, a hunter, and when there are no buffalo or other game I will send my children to hunt and live on prairie mice.
—Sitting Bull to James M. Walsh, inspector in the Northwest Territory of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, at a conference on March 23, 1879.
"The Silver Horn", Boris Johnson, Derrydale Press, Fox, Fox Hunting, Gordon Grand, Human Predation, London, The Sportsman
The population of wild foxes in London has exploded in recent years. Though attractive animals, foxes can be nuisance scavengers toppling your garbage can in the same fashion as raccoons, but foxes are also liable to eat the family cat. One overly-ambitious fox earlier this year made headlines by trying to carry off a four-week-old baby in South London. The infant survived, but lost a finger.
Boris Johnson, the current flamboyant mayor of London, apparently recently had his cat attacked, and Johnson was provoked to come out against the 2004 Hunt Ban, and (amusingly) express support for fox hunting in metropolitan London.
Boris Johnson has called for fox hunts in London to deal with the problem of increased numbers of the animals in the capital.
The mayor of London described how he was enraged after his cat was attacked and was tempted to go out and ‘blaze away’ at the fox with his air rifle.
There are around 10,000 foxes in the capital out of a total 33,000 living in urban areas across the UK, around 14 per cent of the total population of the animals.
Earlier this year a four-week-old baby had his finger ripped off by a fox.
Mr Johnson said it was time to brining in culling to keep numbers in check.
‘This will cause massive unpopularity and I don’t care. I’m pro liberty and individual freedom. If people want to get together to form the fox hounds of Islington I’m all for it,’ he said.
‘I got wild with anger not so long ago because I thought our cat had been mauled by a fox. I wanted to go out with my 2.2 [sic] and blaze away.’
Was it the mayor or reporter Tariq Tahir who thinks that air rifles are chambered in “2.2”?
The concept of fox hunting in heart of London, alas! neither Boris Johnson nor Tariq Tahir will be aware, is actually a famous literary theme.
In 1932, Gordon Grand published a wonderful story, titled The Silver Horn, A Nocturne of Old London Town, in The Sportsman, the opulent monthly catering to the wealthy and well-educated American sporting community, edited by Richard Danielson and published in Boston from 1927 to 1937.
One of the female members of the Millbeck Hunt tells Arthur Pendleton a story of observing during a recent visit to the metropolis a tipsy gentleman in evening dress, carrying a silver hunting horn, and hunting a notional pack of hounds through the heart of London’s fashionable West End. She describes the hunt in marvelous detail, remembering every check and incident of the hunt, producing a splendidly imaginative piece of sporting whimsy.
The story is a masterpiece, which manages to convey the technical sophistication and aesthetic charm of hunting through a verbal account of an entirely imaginary hunt in incongruous surroundings.
The Silver Horn was published the same year by Eugene V. Connett’s Derrydale Press as the title story of a collection of Grand’s foxhunting stories. The same story was also published privately in very small editions to be presented as gifts in Montreal in 1935 and Honolulu in 1941.
Colleen from Chicago put up a post last year arguing that fox hunting is the best extreme sport, which has started making the rounds today in hunting circles.
Fox Hunting is the hottest extreme sport you’ve never seen, let alone tried.
Who doesn’t like the thrill of the chase? How about a sport that is hundreds of years old, involves a private club, speed, thrills, horses, hounds and the rugged outdoors? What if it involved lots of ladies in tight pants straddling horses, spurs, whips, alcohol and getting to say “bitch” as much as you like? Mounting regularly? Breeding? How about offering the lady of your choice the chance to wrap her lips around your flask in public? Thinking you will surely die, yet living to tell about it? Who wouldn’t like this sport?
Guess what? Our ancestors were on to something. They may not have had Xbox but they did have the hunt box. They practiced the extreme sport of foxhunting – formal, expensive, dangerous and an incredible amount of fun. Traditionally a very private and exclusive sport, fox hunting has been made rarer over time by urbanization. While it may be difficult to pursue country sport in the city, fox hunting continues today -even just outside most of our major cities. Today, fox hunting is also much more egalitarian and truly more about chasing rather than harming fox these days. If you enjoy risk, danger, adventure and nature, and have a desire to party like your ancestors, fox hunting might be the sport for you.
She’s perfectly right. As Mr. Jorrocks observed:
“‘Unting is the sport of kings, the image of war without its guilt, and only five-and-twenty per cent. of its danger!”
Read the whole thing.
Ah! A pre-season look forward to impending trout season written by Ernest Hemingway for the Toronto Star in 1920.
Not a great piece of writing, and no expression of dry fly purism either. But in one short passage of two sentences, there is a glimpse forward to the masterful Big Two-Hearted River. And we are reminded of the old days, when steel fly rods were the hot new cutting-edge of fishing technology, and the fly fisherman fished a couple of wet flies on a dropper.
[A] vision of a certain stream… obsesses him.
It is clear and wide with a pebbly bottom and the water is the color of champagne. It makes a bend and narrows a bit and the water rushes like a millrace. Sticking up in the middle of the stream is a big boulder and the water makes a swirl at its base. ...
A snipe lights on the boulder and looks inquiringly at the fly fisherman and then flies jerkily up the stream. But the fly fisherman does not see him for he is engaged in the most important thing in the world. Deciding on his cast for the first day on the stream.
Finally he bends on two flies. One on the end of the leader and one about three feet up. I’d tell you what flies they were, but every fly fisherman in Toronto would dispute the choice. With me though they are going to be a Royal Coachman and a McGinty.
The fairy rod waves back and forth and then shoots out and the flies drop at the head of the swirl by the big boulder. There is a twelve-inch flash of flame out of water, the flyfisher strikes with a wrist like a steel trap, the rod bends, and the first trout of the season is hooked.
Hat tip to Vanderleun.
Last month, NYM linked an article on Slate reporting that hunting was catching on among left-wing, bicycle-riding hipsters as a sort of an extension of back-to-the-land locavore fashion. The hippie berry-pickers and mushroom-gatherers have been slowly evolving into hunters.
Today, we find, on the eminently leftist blog Obsidian Wings, an article by an anti-gun suburbanista from New Jersey styling herself “Doctor Science,” who has suddenly discovered that hunters have an important role to play in wildlife population management.
The way I see it, humans are the top predator around here, and we have an ecological obligation to act like it. Which means killing deer, especially the young ones and the does. In other words, for food. The reason the venison we had last week was so exceptionally scrumptious was because it came from a 2-year-old antlerless animal, just the kind you’d select if they were farm-raised.
What I’m seeing in NJ is that hunters and birders (and other conservationists) are working together more than used to be the case. ...
I don’t know if there will be a shift in hunting culture, if hunters in places like NJ come to see themselves as ecological agents who don’t just “harvest” or exploit wild animals, they use their skills to perform crucial tasks of population control and management.
“Doctor Science” (I keep struggling to suppress a derisive snort every time I read her self-application of that undoubtedly grossly exaggerated appelative) attributes her enlightenment on the unfashionable subject of hunting to her being a bird watcher.
We spend time outside, cultivating patience, observational skills, and learning to keep our feet warm. Birding definitely taps into part of the ancient hunting impulse, to chase things down and find them out. I can definitely understand hunting on a gut level and see the appeal, even though I’d be a pretty terrible hunter.
I think she’s probably right about the last, since she is obviously pretty lousy at finding things out.
If she was much of a hunter of information, about birding, for instance, she’d know that wildlife in North America generally was saved from extinction, parks and gamelands created, habitat preserved, commercial hunting suppressed, and bird and animal species successfully managed (and sometimes dramatically restored) by hunters.
She would know that John James Audubon invariably reduced to possession with a gun the Birds of America he recorded in his paintings.
She would know that the Conservation Movement of the late 19th century that preserved from extinction, and brought back only too successfully, those white-tailed deer she finds delicious was created entirely by prominent sportsmen, by men like Theodore Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell, Charles Sheldon, William T. Hornaday, John C. Phillips, Aldo Leopold, and others. All of those gentlemen wrote books which the lady could hunt up and read. There is also a general survey of the history of the conservation movement in this country, published in 1975, and titled An American Crusade for Wildlife.
“Doctor Science” is sufficiently self-enamored to suggest that hunters ought to become more like left-wing suburban bird watchers, give up their NRA memberships, quit liking and collecting guns, and use firearms guiltily, reluctantly, and only when thinking of them as food harvesting implements. Aesthetic, historical, technological, and associative sentimental appreciation of firearms would be wrong. Just as hunting for sport, for the personal pleasure of participatory experience of the active role in the natural contest of predator and prey, for the aesthetic awareness of the ritual of the chase, and for the sense of self-identification with a rich, immemorial tradition would be wrong. It is only right, she tells us, to hunt in order to acquire “healthy, clean meat to feed my family.”
It is typical of self-congratulatory liberal narcissism to think that one’s own provincial and Philistine outlook and motivations represent the supreme moral ideal that the rest of mankind needs to be taught to emulate.
Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.
Condé Nast Traveller has an interesting photo essay illustrating the centrality of the sport of falconry to Arab culture in Qatar.
In the US, falconry is so buried under a preposterous and massively burdensome regulatory regime that only an infinitesimally small community of total fanatics can participate. (There are something like 4000 licensed falconers out of an American population of 300 million.) In the United States, you can go right out there and buy a horse any time you like and take him home, but not a falcon. Unlike horses, you see, raptors are sacred and they all really belong to our federal government and various international conservancy committees. You must have special permission at both the state and federal level to borrow one of their birds. You are required to take a federal exam, sign up for a multi-year apprenticeship under a licensed falconer, and open your home to federal inspection to even possess your first hawk, and your choice of falcon is restricted to only 2 (in some regions, 3) species until you achieve a more advanced license level.
Can you imagine a dog ownership regime that would require federal licensing and then would allow you only to own a chihuahua or a Golden Retriever until you had been a licensed dog for two years? Then you become a “general dog owner” and can own two dogs at the same time, including such more interesting breeds as poodles, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds. You would need to be licensed for five years before you could be a “master dog owner” and own three dogs at the same time or be permitted to possess the more exotic and desirable salukis, borzois, and Akitas.
It’s different in Arab countries, where falconry is a far more prominent and mainstream sporting activity.
Hat tip to Sari Mantila.