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:
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.