Category Archive 'Cheshire Hunt'

29 Oct 2006

News From Melton Mowbray: Another British Fox Hunt Turns to Falconry

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Neil Everley of the Quorn with Golden Eagle/Steppe Eagle cross

As we noted last December, the infamous February 2005 Hunt Ban, enacted by Britain’s Labour Party as a gesture of class animosity and urban spite, banned hunting par force du chien (i.e., the traditional pursuit and reduction to possession of the quarry by a pack of hounds), but included certain loopholes: drag hunts (i.e., hunts in which the pack hunts an artificially created line of scent) are lawful; and hounds can be used to follow a scent and to flush out a fox, which may then be pursued by no more than two dogs, and ultimately shot or taken by means of falconry.

The strange consequence of this vile legislation has been a curious revival of falconry employing large raptors by several enterprising hunts. Last year, the Cheshire Hunt was seen taking to the field accompanied by a European Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo).

This year, the illustrious Quorn is training a huge Eurasian Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos chrysaetos) and Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) cross.

Melton Today

Hat tip to Steve Bodio. I’m less pessimistic than Steve’s correspondent Patrick, who evidently accompanied the link he sent Steve with prognostications of havoc.

Let’s see — amped up hounds, lots of people, a couple hundred horses, a panicked fox, and someone in a coat and tie handling a massive Golden Eagle cross in the middle of it all. Madness on stilts if you ask me! When the eagle is injured or killed, it will be described as an “accident” rather than planned stupidity.”

I’m sure some very interesting misadventures (and ones worth writing about!) will inevitably occur, but it’s all part of the game in the sporting field. And I’m rather pleased myself at the irony of the same detestable English Puritanism which nearly extinguished the ancient sport of falconry in the British Isles in the 17th century, inadvertently ushering it back in in the 21th century, and in a particularly colorful and grandiose form to boot.

27 Dec 2005

Hunt Ban Proving Unenforceable in Britain

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Faced with a tyrannical ban on Hunting, the British countryside responded this year with an increased turnout for Boxing Day hunt meetings.

The infamous February 2005 Hunt Ban, enacted by Britain’s Labour Party as a gesture of class animosity and urban spite, banned hunting par force du chien (i.e., the traditional pursuit and reduction to possession of the quarry by a pack of hounds), but included certain loopholes: drag hunts (i.e., hunts in which the pack hunts an artificially created line of scent), are lawful; and hounds can be used to follow a scent and to flush out a fox, which may then be pursued by no more than two dogs, and ultimately shot or taken by means of falconry. Consequently, the Telegraph reports:

European Eagle Owl

In Buckinghamshire, for instance, a good time was had chasing a scent line across country, while the Cheshire rode out with two hounds and an eagle owl, as solemnly permitted by Act of Parliament.

These new, officially sanctioned forms of hunting might seem daft but, objectively considered, they are no more so than the traditional version.

The point of the [fox] hunt, after all, was always highly necessary pest control, and that in itself is a pretty joyless business. But an accumulation of seasonal rituals, special drinks and menus, private language and silly clothes turned an onerous obligation into a community festival, and the native absurdity of it was always part of the enjoyment.

So if the opponents of hunting thought that the spirit of traditional countrymen would be broken by making them ride with an owl, or chase a false scent before accidentally encountering a fox (as though that had never happened before), they were rather pitifully missing the point. Hunting was always absurd, because fun usually is.

Reynard

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Earlier reports.


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