Recent polls conducted by HHO seem to bear out the feeling present throughout much of the countryside that, post-ban, hunting is more popular than ever.

When asked whether they would hunt this season, over a quarter of respondents on the site said they would be hunting for the first time, in addition to the 41% who said they would be hunting as always.

When asked if they would be attending their opening meet, nearly 70% of respondents said they would, showing strong support for the sport which many anti-hunting campaigners had hoped would lose popularity following the ban in February.

Only three percent of people on HHO said they would no longer be hunting this season because of the new legislation.

Alastair Jackson, Chairman of the Masters of Foxhounds Association told Horseandhound.co.uk today: “Most hunts we speak to would argue that they are experiencing increased support, both mounted and on foot.

“There are clearly larger numbers of people keen to try hunting for the first time, and of course we welcome anybody who does want to come along.”

He also pointed out that the hunting issue has become something of a touchstone issue for many in the countryside, who fear for their way of life. “Support is coming particularly from farmers, who have been extremely vocal in their agreement with what we are doing,” said Jackson.

The hunting season has meanwhile continued with no prosecutions, despite a campaign by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) to persuade the police to get involved. The first private prosecution is due in December, when LACS brings a case against a member of the Exmoor foxhounds.