VALE OF AYLESBURY WITH GARTH & SOUTH BERKS
Emma Pearse, joint-master: “We shall meet on the 19th at Thame Showground and hack through Thame as a high-profile media exercise. We’ll go out two days a week, on hound exercise, line hunting and rides, until the end of this season. There’s no question at all that we’ll get rid of hounds or staff for next season, though we may not buy any more horses yet.
“We’ve got a big National Trust estate, which accounts for about five days a season, and we’re negotiating with them, but it seems that they’ll allow us to continue using the land. We’ve got a big country and it’s amazing how people who have never been out before are coming now. In a way, I’m quite excited; it’s a new challenge and the support we’ve had has been amazing.”
VALE OF CLETTWR
Jane Tromans, hon sec: “We’re having meetings about what we’re going to do and I’ve organised a meeting with all our farmers, which will be attended by representatives of the CA and NFU.
“We’ll keep going somehow and we’ll abide by the rules. We’re only a small hunt, but with the farmers’ and community’s support, we’ll make it. We can’t let them [the antis] win.”
VINE & CRAVEN
Charlotte Fuller, master’s wife: “We’re meeting in Lambourn on the 19th. We’ll carry on meeting as normal to the end of the season, possibly with a few less weekdays, and we’ll try out all the legal options. We intend to keep everything going for next season and to keep in touch with all our landowners.”
Chris Mason, joint-master: “We intend to carry on, come what may, but within the law. We’re planning a big meet on 19 February, and have let the local police know that it’s going ahead. We have to keep the infrastructure going so that we can continue, whatever happens.
“We plan to do trailhunting, although we don’t yet know exactly how it’s going to work — we’ve been experimenting. We have a small amount of Forestry Commission land over which we hunt, but if it’s now unavailable to us, it’s not really going to affect us.
“Philip Hague is joining us as our new huntsman, since Sidney Bailey is retiring, and we have a new whipper-in/kennelman. We’ll continue to provide a flesh collection service and to employ a full-time stud groom and helpers.”
Sam Butler, joint-master: “We’re going out on Saturdays and Wednesdays until our season ends on 12 March. Usually we do four days. We’ll do a combination of everything allowed under the law, such as hound exercise and fun rides, with the blessing of the farming community.
“We’re not sure yet about laying a trail — we want to know we can get it right before we take it seriously. We’ve sent out letters to farmers, who have been very supportive. We’ve made no firm plans to reduce hounds, horses or staff, but we need to think how we’re going to maintain the structure for perhaps five years.”
Maurice Bell, MFH: “We shall be meeting on Sunday, 20 February and having a hunt breakfast. We’re keeping hounds, and will be going on hound exercise [on foot], but it’s very difficult because if a fox gets up there’s no way we can stop hounds in such open country.
“It’s a serious situation because there are a lot of foxes about and the farmers are ringing us up and asking what’s going to happen at lambing time. William Hague is our MP and he visited the kennels recently, spending all morning with hounds. He said that many MPs just haven’t thought this out.”
Benjamin Sparrow, MFH: “We’re meeting on the 19th, but we may not do much more this season because we usually finish around then. We have an early spring down here [in Cornwall] and have a lot of early potato crops, so it’s not the easiest time anyway. We also have a lot of suburban and overlooked country. We’re certainly not folding, but I feel that it may be better to start again next season.”
WEST OF YORE
Anne Bailey, hon sec: “We’ll have a big meet at Masham on the 19th, but we only have about five dates after then anyway, so we’ll do hound exercise for the rest of the season. We have a lot of sheep and lambs about, so we have to be careful.
“Next season we plan to try all three options — but we definitely won’t turn into a draghunt. I don’t think we’ll lose many subscribers, and the farmers are more supportive than ever because they’re so fed up with the government.”
Simon Wadlow, chairman: “We’ll meet on the 19th and carry on hound exercising until our usual end of season. We’ve had informal conversations with farmers and sent letters out last week.
“We haven’t bred hounds this season, but that’s a one-off. Our master and huntsman of 10 seasons, Myles Salmon, is leaving, and we’re replacing him with a professional kennel-huntsman.
“We’re going to be flexible and do what’s appropriate at the time, essentially providing something for our followers to enjoy so we continue to have a vibrant hunt community.”
SIR WATKIN WILLIAMS-WYNN’S
Nancy Shepherd, hon sec: “We’re meeting in Malpas on the 19th and will parade through the village as a show of solidarity. We shall continue to do hound exercise through the villages, but it’s virtually the end of our usual season anyway.
“We shall continue next season with some form of legal hunting. Our masters are prepared to stay on and we’ll keep the hounds and hunt staff, though we may draft some hounds to Ireland.”
WEST STREET TICKHAM
Stewart Wood, chairman: “We’ll go mockhunting: we’re in the south-east and will have rigidly to obey the law. I’m hoping that we’ll do as many meets as possible before the middle of March, our usual end of season. We normally meet twice a week, but we may not meet as often because we’ll need people to lay the scent and so on. We’ll meet Saturdays and will try to scramble one or two weekdays.
“We’re about to do landowners’ agreements and, from speaking to them, there’s a favourable reaction. On 19 February, we’re having a big meet at Doddington Place, after which we’ll try some mock hunts and ride around the countryside. ”
SOUTH & WEST WILTS
John Reading, chairman: “On 19 February, we’re going to have a huge crowd and various people will make speeches. We’ll meet two days a week until 2 April. We’re not laying a trail. It’s hound exercise. We’ll also do legal pest control. We’ll maintain an active flesh collection service. We have a lot of dairy farmers and have geared up our facilities to meet new rules.
“We have eight days on MoD land that’s closed to us now. We’ve written to our farmers and told them our plans; they’ve applauded us and told us to carry on legally. We’ll keep as many hounds as we can and as many staff as we need. We’ll make those plans towards the end of April.”
Angus Mann, chairman: “We’ll meet on Wednesdays and Saturdays until 30 March, which is our usual end of season. We’ll be hunting a fox-based scent, but exactly how isn’t completely sealed. It won’t be as fast as a drag, and the idea is to have checks and some jumping.
“We have forestry, but not large blocks. Landowners have had a letter from us and only one doesn’t want us to come. The four large estates in our country are backing us. We’re going to reduce our hunt horses from seven to four, and will have one instead of two grooms. Hunt staff won’t have two-horse days.”
Wendy Evans, joint-master: “We’re nearing the end of our season anyway, but, farmers and wet ground permitting, we’ll offer a couple of days’ hound exercising, including on the 19th. We’ll review our plans for next season. We’re in the hands of our farmers and we will continue to offer a fox control service. If we do trailhunting next season, it will be legal, but in the manner of real hunting with hound work — we’re definitely not going draghunting.”
YORK & AINSTY NORTH
Paul Scholes, chairman: “We plan to follow a trail within the law, but we’re not lying down and accepting this legislation by doing so. On 19 February, it’s more than likely we’ll meet in Easingwold market square with the York and Ainsty South.