By now, our community should have toasted the result of the general election. It was proof — and proof was needed — that this country suffers from a vocal minority but, when the chips are down, benefits from a silent majority. Because someone shouts the loudest and is the most aggressive or vitriolic does not mean their strongly held views will resonate with others.
It appears we still live in a country where reasoned debate with a friendly tone is what the majority of us want to see.
The hunting community will be working hard to ensure we have a positive end to a season that could have, at times, seen Noah in search of more gopher wood with which to build Ark II.
Our landowners and farmers must be thanked and then thanked again, as it has not stopped raining for any period of time since October. It makes it harder to open country for a day, it means more mess when parking cars and lorries, and it is depressing getting so wet all the time. Let us hope for a good scenting end to the wettest winter I can remember.
Consistency is key
When we reach the end of this season, I believe it is time for us to come together as a community and be as one in our approach and strategy for developing our sport and making it relevant and sustainable for the next generation. We will achieve this through dialogue, not hunt politics, and it will require a huge amount of work.
But we enter this decade knowing we must engage with this mammoth task en masse. We must sing with one voice to deliver a consistent and positive message to the outside world and to our political masters, who have had to endure our opponents delivering theirs — usually consisting of dodgy statistics and half truths, but regularly and efficiently — for many years.
Never have they, however, delivered any evidence supporting a ban on hunting improving the lot of the fox, or even how it has fared since the ban.
‘We’re far from a lost cause’
Be in no doubt our opponents want to see hunting within the law banned — this is the very real danger we now face. But we are far from a lost cause. For example, I regularly have to take hounds near or across a main road. Four out of five cars that have had to slow up for us immediately take pictures, smile and say “have a good day” or “lovely to see you”, and only one will call in to question my parentage.
The time has come to level the playing field with our opponents and for a fight-back so emphatic and positive that our sport can be proud. It has survived without much help since the ban and now is the time to work on our image and rebuild our strategy. Any initiative will only be a success if we join together and work together, and if we do that we will benefit together.
It will fall largely to the Hunting Office and the Countryside Alliance to lead us, but every pack of registered hounds in this country has to get on the front foot, promote our many positive attributes and participate in this. And if I’m correct, the public will support us and our place in the 21st century will be deserved and assured.
Ref Horse & Hound; 23 January 2020