First, let me make it abundantly clear that I am against the Fox Hunt! And the only reason I dare to share this story with you is the outcome of it. No Foxes were killed during writing this story, rest assured.
Read til the end.
A little over 25 years ago I lived in England. And at that time I had friends living near Cambridge that were well off and had a habit, some will now say a nasty habit, of indulging in the good of life and go on a Fox Hunt once a year, I believe the day after Christmas if I remember correctly. And although I had no desire to get my arse wholloped on the back of a horse nor kill a Fox, I could not say no when I was invited to join them in their festivities. But I had a few questions I needed to ask before I was going to accept their invitation and one of them was: is there a real Fox and do I have to kill it? And they all laughed. “We will tell you in time before the hunt not to worry, see you at the inn tomorrow”, Cordelia* said when I left their house that evening.
The next morning we all gathered at the inn, our local where we used to come together for a drink, a listed thatched building with large dark wooden beams inside. We were all wearing our hunting clothes, I had my own so I didn’t have to rent one, a Tweed jacket and Corduroy pair of trousers and shiny black boots. I was given a cap my size as I didn’t bring my own from Holland and I thought, well, this is really it. Today I’m going to kill a Fox. As a young man in The Netherlands I once or twice held a rifle to shoot rabbits, I had a few chances to use a double barreled shotgun with 200 grain shells to shoot us a pheasant for Christmas, but never I thought about actually shooting a Fox, even though one evening it dug a hole under the fence in the hennery and stole a chicken.
We started the morning festivities with Coffee and Apple Pie with Whipped Cream and a thimble of Rum, “Can’t shoot a Fox on an empty stomach”, my friend James* said. And we all had a turn at the bar, having our flask filled with whisky of our choice, I am telling you, these friends didn’t leave anything to coincidence. And after coffee we had a pint or two and sandwiches with Cress and Salmon. And then we had a couple of pints more.
After lunch with Shepherd’s Pie, the large horn was blown inside the inn and my friend stood up and shouted for silence. He told us the objective of that Fox Hunt was to get plastered whilst horseback riding and shoot aimlessly in the bushes without actually hitting any Fox whatsoever and just be careful. He wished us all “good luck and bla bla bla and so forth and all that” and off we went, making a lot of noise getting on our horses outside, the servants having hard work to keep us on the horse backs before we rode off into the woods. My friend was blowing his large brass horn all the time, the dogs were going berserk but we laughed and had a lot of fun. And none of the dogs were even remotely suitable for a real Fox Hunt, amazing! I think I even saw a couple of Poodles there.
Needless to say we did not shoot a Fox that day. We all got back at the inn safely as we only had to follow the noise of our horn blowing friend James and then we had a lovely meal and some more pints, the servants counting the dogs and taking care of the horses outside.
Lately there has been a lot to do about the ban on Fox Hunting as it is cruel to the animal and how times have changed. And should the ban be repealed or enforcement stepped up? That would apply to those who actually stay sober and are dedicated to take a Fox’s life and have no fun doing it except for bragging and showing off to others who then become jealous and want to do the same. But not the friends I went with on a hunt once long ago. We had no Fox, we had just fun and a lot to drink. And Shepherd’s Pie.
So, instead of banning it, wouldn’t it be a good idea I thought just to alter the goals and rules a little bit, for example, hide a stuffed toy Fox somewhere in the woods and swap real guns for paintball guns? That way, those who want to partake in Fox Hunting will not loose their so-called dignity and those who oppose Fox Hunting are satisfied. And they both can get drunk afterwards and have fun. I call it Faux Hunt. Seems to me like a win-win situation. And the Fox lives.
* Names changed for privacy reasons