Code of Good Hunting
A Code of Good Hunting on Behalf of:
- The Masters of Foxhounds Association
- The Masters of Minkhounds Association
- The Masters of Deerhounds Association
- Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles
- Central Committee of Fell Packs
- Federation of Welsh Packs
- Association of Lurcher Clubs
- National Coursing Club
- Whippet, Saluki and Deerhound Coursing Association
The code is written for everyone who goes hunting, be they Masters, huntsmen, officials of long standing or newcomers to hunting. It should be read regularly. Since February 18th 2005 hunting has been regulated by the Hunting Act 2004. Some parts of this code are super-ceded by that legislation.
For several hundred years hunting has been an integral and important part of the social and rural life in Great Britain. We are all aware of the political threats that now face it. In recent years propaganda by those opposed to hunting has led to misunderstanding and criticism. It is therefore the responsibility of all those who participate to promote our activities and explain and inform others about what we do and why we do it.
Hunting is the natural and most humane method of managing and controlling foxes, hares, deer and mink in the countryside and as independent research shows it is often the method most favoured by farmers. The beneficial part it plays in the conservation of the countryside and in the rural economy is beyond doubt, which is also substantiated by independent research.
Everyone must be prepared to be held accountable for everything that they do throughout each hunting day. We need to be both aware of, and sensitive to, the fact that our activities are liable to be observed and judged by the public. Those who run and manage hunting are fully conscious that if it is to thrive, then the highest standards of best practice need to be understood and maintained by all followers.
The Hunts and Clubs of the Hunting Associations are regulated by strict and detailed rules, which their hunt officials must obey. The standard of behaviour of followers, whether on foot, in a car or on a horse has long been governed by an informal code. However, we must constantly strive to raise and implement standards of best practice. Therefore it is essential that we provide all hunt followers with a formal code, thereby satisfying the objectives of ISAH and improving public confidence in our activities. Follow it and hunting will be available for future generations.
THREE GOLDEN RULES FOR ANYONE WHO GOES HUNTING
There are three golden rules at the heart of hunting's regulatory code:
- Hunting as a practice is the hunting of a wild animal in its wild and natural state with a pack of hounds. Nothing must be done which in any way compromises this concept.
- Hunting depends primarily on the goodwill of landholders and farmers. No one who goes hunting should do anything that might jeopardise this goodwill. It must be remembered that for most of a day's hunting you are a guest on someone else's land.
- Masters of Hounds (i.e. those in charge of the hunt), or their appointed deputies, are solely responsible for the conduct of each day's hunting and are bound by the strict rules and instructions of their own governing body; their instructions must be willingly followed.
RESPONSIBILITIES FOR HUNT FOLLOWERS
All followers of hunting enjoy access to large areas of countryside not always available to others. This and hunting's high visibility make it crucial that followers conform with accepted standards of good behaviour.
This means that:
- they must appreciate that they are guests of those on whose land they ride or walk;
- they are punctual at the meet (the gathering at the start of a hunting day) and their turnout is clean, tidy and most importantly safe. It is necessary that followers attend the meet as special instructions may be given about the conduct of the day's hunting
INSTRUCTIONS TO HUNT FOLLOWERS
Hunt followers should ensure that:
- they make every effort to avoid causing damage to land, fences or crops. However, if there is damage it must be reported to an appropriate hunt official;
- they close all gates and avoid disturbance to livestock. Sometimes gates appear to be permanently open, but if in doubt close them;
- they do not ride or drive on mown verges, or ride several abreast through villages and along busy roads;
- they do not cause obstruction when parking vehicles, horseboxes or trailers at any time;
- they do not park on both sides of roads and so interrupt the flow of other traffic. Help and acknowledgement must be afforded to passing traffic. Remember every delayed motorist or lorry driver becomes a potential enemy of hunting;
- they do not park or drive on private land without the express permission of the landholder.
In addition, hunt followers' behaviour may affect the management of the hunting day. Mounted followers will be managed and guided by the Field Master - mounted followers should remain in touch with him or her. Further, care must be taken not to impede the progress of the hunted animal. If it should come towards you remain quiet and still until it has passed by. Then you may holloa, or signal to the huntsman with your cap or handkerchief in the air, but appreciate that he and his hounds may be hunting another individual.
Conditions specific to foxhunting
Autumn Hunting (Prior to Opening Meets)
Autumn hunting plays an important role in the management of the fox population. Its purpose is to disperse large concentrations of foxes and to cull a proportion of them, particularly the older and weaker ones. It is also the time when the young hounds are introduced to hunting - they learn by working with the more experienced and older ones.
For farming, fox control and safety reasons hunting may be confined to a limited area through either "lining-out" one or two sides of a wood or covert or "holding-up".
At such times it is also permissible for mounted or foot followers, who must be appointed and instructed by the Master, to discourage a fox from leaving covert.
Holding-up is carried out by the use of the voice and tapping with a stick or a whip. Aggressive holding up or excessive noise is against the rules and will not be tolerated.
Those that go out autumn hunting should not expect to be part of any holding-up that may have to be undertaken.
Terrier work plays an important role in fox control, especially on livestock farms and where game shooting takes place. It is the only legal method of controlling foxes underground.
If a fox is run to ground, digging may only take place with the expressed permission of the landowner or farmer. It can only be carried out by those licensed by the appropriate governing body. Normally the terrierman will be accompanied by only one assistant. Due to the possible use of a humane killer (licensed firearm) and to avoid unnecessary noise and disturbance, participation is limited to the terrierman and his assistant with sometimes the presence of the relevant farmer or gamekeeper.
Conditions specific to deer hunting
Dispatching the Deer
At the end of a hunt the deer will normally stand at bay - frequently this will be in water. It is the job of the hounds to keep the deer at bay until one of the official marksmen arrives and dispatches it humanely at close quarters. Due to the use of a firearm hunt followers must keep at a safe distance away.
Conditions specific to mink hunting
If a mink is run to ground, the Master in charge must decide what is to be done. Only the hunt's appointed terrierman is allowed to undertake the necessary terrier work. For efficiency and safety reasons followers must not interfere or get involved, unless specifically asked to do so by a hunt official.
Conditions specific to shooting packs
The primary objective of shooting packs is pest control but that is no reason to ignore welfare standards. No shot should be taken unless the shooter believes he can achieve a clean kill.
Therefore it is essential that:
- the shooter has a clear view of the fox and it is in range;
- the appropriate firearm is used;
- appropriate ammunition is used.
- All who follow hunting must be aware of other countryside users. People work at a wide variety of businesses in rural areas, and there is an increasing number of recreational and leisure users of the countryside. Other people's views must be taken into account and respected. Every effort must be made to avoid giving offence. Common courtesy is essential and must be granted to everyone - a simple "please" or "thank you" costs nothing.
- Every effort must be made to prevent hounds and followers from straying into places where they are not welcome, or onto roads and railways.
- The wishes of all landholders, no matter how small, must be respected. Never do anything that would be detrimental to agricultural interests.
- The aims of saboteurs are to disrupt hunting and provoke hunt followers. Confrontation with saboteurs must be avoided whenever possible and, in any event, followers must not retaliate whatever the provocation. Frequently saboteurs are breaking the law. You can help by recording details of vehicle registration numbers, taking photographic evidence, making identifications and listing times and places of incidents. Be prepared to make written notes and report incidents to an appropriate hunt official.
- Do all you can to help the hunt, be it with farming interests, passing traffic or the general management of the day. Above all always abide by the requests of those in charge - the Masters. Strict observance of this Code, politeness, and where appropriate sensible and reasoned debate is what is needed to ensure hunting continues.
- Finally there is only one organisation that promotes and defends all country pursuits and that is the Countryside Alliance. Everyone who wishes to continue to go hunting is duty bound to be a member.
For membership of the Countryside Alliance use this link to join the CA online.