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“A fish stinks from the head down: well done. Now, master, do you take water with your whiskey?”

So began one of my most memorable rollockings. The retired general-cum-gentleman farmer was understandably incandescent that wire had been cut to gain access to a field, only a stone’s throw from a perfectly serviceable gate.

That it was his neighbouring farmer who had cut the wire in a moment of venatic enthusiasm was an inconsequential detail that I thought best not to mention, preferring to absorb his thunder in the hope of emerging relatively unscathed and maybe even having gained a little respect.

I will never forget the general’s wife, who kept popping her head round the door of the study, presumably to check that I hadn’t been consumed or simply withered away.

Nearly 20 years later I still consider it a master’s lot to impart the three simple, common courtesies: please, thank you and when necessary, sorry.

I have never held with taking a gift as a means of aiding reparation. However, we made an exception recently when my joint-master visited someone the day after hunting with a couple of bottles of wine hastily grabbed from his fridge. His initial introduction on the icy doorstep must have gone reasonably well as he was invited into the kitchen. It was only when he put the bottles down on the table that he realised one of the bottles was half drunk. After an anxious meeting of eyes this unexpected game-changing moment broke the ice and they could only laugh.

Following a startling encounter, my whipper-in advised that I take the same joint-master with me to patch over one particular situation, in part for my personal protection. But said joint-master’s ladies (ewes) needed attention, so I waded in alone.

I thought it was going well. The aggrieved’s wife made me a cup of tea and we partook in small talk on local matters while awaiting her husband’s arrival. “Milk and sugar?” she enquired as he burst into the kitchen.

Before I had time to answer, out shot the reply: “What are you doing making him tea? Throw it away.”

Another game-changer. We parted on much better terms thankfully, although I never did get that cup of tea.

Outstanding training opportunity

The Hunting Office developed the Hunt Staff Bursary Scheme to formalise the training of young members of hunt staff. Haddon Training, graded “outstanding” by Ofsted, was brought in to provide the educational expertise and training format for the level two diploma in animal care, which provides the basis of a fulfilling career in hunting.

There have been many success stories, such as Joe Tesseyman, who hunts the Essex and Suffolk three days a week, and Elliot Stokes, first whipper-in at the Quorn.

The Hunting Office offers participating hunts a grant to supplement the apprentice’s wage. While several smaller hunts have provided excellent training it is hoped that a greater number of larger packs will join their ranks in coming years to broaden the choice of working environment. Next season’s cohort are being assessed at present, however any hunts or potential candidates wishing to join next year’s scheme can apply to the Hunting Office.

Ref: Horse & Hound; 11 February 2016