The following notes have been drawn up to offer advice to new members in relation to the basic do's and don'ts when out sabotaging a hunt. They are merely guidelines to give people an idea of what is expected of them. Listed separately are some basic tactics for use when sabotaging a fox hunt, however these are often best learnt on the day by watching experienced saboteurs. Please also remember that advice and information is free - so basically do not be afraid to ask!
When Out Sabotaging a Hunt
If arrested you are obliged only to give your name, address and date of birth to the police. Once at the station you are likely to have other questions put to you, and past cases have shown it to be in your own interests not to answer any further requests for details and/or questions. Recent legislative changes now allow; such a 'no comment' response to police enquires to be held against you if the matter be brought to court, however you are still advised to refuse to answer questions.
The police have the right to fingerprint, photograph, and under new legislation, take bodily fluids; from you. In order to do this you, in theory, should have been charged with an offence. You can have somebody informed of your arrest - the police will phone them for you, and you are allowed one phone call yourself. You may have access to your solicitor at any time, whether it be in person or on the phone. In regards to legal advice, you are advised to know of a reputable solicitor to request if need be rather then accept the Duty Solicitor who is chosen by the police and is unlikely to be experience in matters relating to your arrest. If you do not know of a suitably experienced solicitor then please ask any experienced sab for the details.
Always remember that if you are arrested there will always be somebody waiting for you to be released. Whatever the police may choose to tell you we are not in the habit of abandoning our fellow sabs!
Sabotaging a Fox Hunt - Basic tactics
1) Clearing woods
Form a line across the wood and move forward together, making as much noise as possible i.e. blow horns/whistles, clap and shout. Look out for fox earth's/badger setts and un-block if necessary; Work away from the meet and send foxes in a direction the hunt will not want to go towards i.e. towards a residential area.
2) Pulling hounds away from a draw
When the hounds are sent into a wood, gorse patch etc., to sniff around and find a fox, sabs usually try to call them back out using both horn and voice calls. Clearly, if we can succeed in calling the hounds out, we will hamper the hunts attempts to find a fox. To begin with you should only attempt to call the pack out from the end of the wood they were entered into, or from along the side. This is to avoid calling them over to where a fox might be, or heading it back into the drawing hounds. If calling from alongside, wait until hounds are as near to your side of the wood as possible; until they have drawn level with; or slightly past you. Call them out with the calls the huntsman uses to pull hounds out of a blank wood i.e. long winding notes ('blowing out'), and the 'come come come' voice calls.
Each hound in the pack has it's own name, and has been taught to respond to this in much the same way as a domestic dog - listen out for the huntsman calling them away by name because when used in conjunction with the right horn and voice calls, this can be extremely effective.
Once you take the pack away from the huntsman they are your responsibility. At all times you must endeavour to keep them under control and avoid bringing them into danger. If in doubt of your ability to control them, do not attempt to take them away completely.
3) Stopping hounds on a scent
If the hounds do flush out a fox or pick up a scent they will start to bay and yelp in a loud chorus. This noise plus the probable excitement among hunt members should alert sabs. They should try and get ahead of the hounds or to one side or amongst them. Both horn and voice calls should be used plus imitation whip-cracks. The horn should be slow and long - single notes or long mournful calls. Voice calls should be gruff, harsh and aggressive as if chastising the hounds i.e. 'ware riot', 'leave it', 'get on back to him' etc. This should be interspersed with whip-cracking or clapping.
Effective sabotage of a particular hunt can be considerably increased if you are able to research it beforehand. Indeed, as many hunts become increasingly secretive it may be possible to sabotage them only after you have studied them in some depth.
Bailey's Hunting Directory contains details of a hunt's history, its country, the days on which it hunts, on masters and staff, and the telephone number of the kennels. Most large libraries will have a copy of the current edition or contact the Hunt Saboteurs Association for info..
Meet cards (fixture lists) are extremely useful, but can be very hard to obtain. They are distributed to all subscribers before the season starts. The hunt follows a similar list each season, so even old meet cards can be useful for predicting meets, although a great deal depends on fox distribution and farming interests.
Hunting reports are available in such magazines as Horse and Hound, Hounds, Country Sport, occasionally Country Life, and in some local newspapers. These can tell you meets that the hunt uses, the approximate time in the hunting season when they are likely to use them, the route the hunt will take from a meet, which coverts are likely to have foxes, the route foxes might run from a covert, and the names of supporters who host lawn meets.
Hound show reports are published in the hunting press over the summer and early autumn months.They often contain the names of hounds, and of puppy walkers, and are frequently accompanied by photographs of hunt staff and supporters.
Newspapers local to the hunt's area will sometimes advertise meets. Even hunts that don't advertise in this way may have done so in the past and newspaper articles on the hunt, or members of the hunt, can also provide useful information. Try libraries and newspaper offices for copies of old issues.
Hit reports are the saboteur's equivalent of Hunting Reports, and can be just as useful. Every time you attend a hunt make a record of the meet (with a map grid reference) and the time at which they actually started, the size of the hunt, any police presence, the wind direction, which coverts the hunt drew and the order in which they drew them (with grid references), and the time at which they packed up. Always send a copy of any hit report to the HSA.
The internet or online telephone directories can provide the exact addresses of supporters, when hunting reports supply only their name. Who's Who, which can be found online or in reference libraries, can also be used. Photographs of staff and supporters, which can be taken whilst attending a hunt, or found in hunting magazines, can prove useful, especially if a sab is assaulted. To find the exact location of the hunt kennels you may have to scour OS maps of the hunt country, or follow the hound van after a day's hunting.
Look on the internet for the telephone numbers/location of hunt kennels, as well as the addresses of local farmers who a hunting report might reveal to be hunt supporters or even the hosts of meets.
Country sports fairs can provide all sorts of information, especially if you feel confident enough to chat to local supporters. They are also often a good opportunity to take photographs. Hunt histories can sometimes bring to light useful information. Small, local libraries are often better than main city libraries in this respect, and County Record Offices can sometimes be helpful.
Once you have lists of meets for a few different years, even if they are incomplete, try to look for patterns from one year to the next. A hunt may go to a particular meet on the first Wednesday of a given month for instance, or may always use the same Christmas Eve or Boxing Day meet. Often meets will be either weekday meets or Saturday meets. If, from research, you have a good idea where a hunt will meet on a given day, it will be possible to find them simply by driving to the most likely meets.