Recently I was discussing the latest problem in our hunt with one of my joint-masters and I flippantly remarked, “Why do we do it?” With a very serious look on his face, he said: “For the children, so we can hand over to the next generation with everything intact.” He is right, of course.
Young people have far more distractions now than those of my age did. I am always delighted to see them coming out hunting. It is great to see the joy they get from it and for four hours they are unable to use a mobile phone for calling, texting, emailing or worse.
In that respect nothing has changed; hunting offers a complete getaway from the pressures of our busy lives. My generation is often heard to say, “We had the best of it,” and “There are no young people coming through,” but every peer group has made the same remarks. There are many young people enjoying hunting and it’s up to us to educate them, but not apply so much pressure that it frightens them away.
On the whole, people of my age do use the incredible technology available today, but many of us have not embraced it as our children have. This is their era and getting the maximum out of them may involve communicating with them through their preferred platforms — texting, Facebook, Snapchat, Whatsapp, etcetera. I have found that talking to a 14-year-old — or even shouting — does not work that well these days.
Hunting is no different from any other club, school or friendships that our youngsters may be part of. Perhaps finding young ambassadors nationwide to help us understand the different options would be a start. I am aware that the Master of Foxhounds Association is looking into this, along with ideas to help keep hunting relevant by using the mediums younger supporters use.
Hunting’s here to stay
Hunting’s future, as regards repeal, is in the balance, but hunting in its current form continues to survive and in some areas thrive. We should not underestimate the younger followers; they are as keen as we were.
You never know where your next supporter is coming from. My 13-year-old son has arrived at Stowe school this term and, having shown little interest in foxhounds, has thrown himself into the beagles and is loving it.
I was invited for the opening day of the season last week and enjoyed seeing him running through field upon field in pursuit of the genuine little hounds.
The beagles are hunted by Bertie Alexander (out of the Charles Frampton stable) and in him they have a huntsman of some class and style. He was so confident, quiet and assured that he is surely destined for the top.
We must all continue to work for repeal, but hunting is here to stay, it has to, for the next generation.
Ref: Horse & Hound; 25 October 2015