SLAUGHTER AT DAWN
Cub hunting is the secret side of fox hunting - it is carried out in the heart of the countryside, as early as six in the morning and well away from the eyes of the public. This callous activity is carried out at the beginning of autumn, by all foxhunts, to introduce new 'puppy' hounds to killing. Aware of how distasteful the practice must seem, he hunting fraternity now refer to it as 'autumn hunting', in an attempt to appear more politically correct.
In a typical cubhunt, riders and foot followers are placed around the edge of a wood, or 'covert', where the litters of young foxes dwell - their purpose is to form a human fence, thus trapping the unsuspecting cubs inside, before the hounds enter. Encouraged by the voice of the huntsman, the hounds proceed to scent out their quarry, and for the terrified foxcubs, the environment in which they spent the last four or five months growing up, is suddenly turned into a deathtrap.
With all earths and underground escape routes blocked by terriermen, the invasion of hounds forces the cubs to run in terror. For the hunted cub, the only means of escape is to flee from the wood - but its escape is denied by the shouts and lashing whips of the hunt followers around the perimeter making them easy quarry for the new, inexperienced hounds. All too frequently the cub is mauled continuously for several minutes before death finally releases it from its cruel ordeal.
To the average thinking person the whole concept of using foxcubs as pawns fro training young foxhounds to kill, is ruthless and sadistic. Yet the hunting fraternity claim that it is a very necessary part of hunting. with the law still backing such activities, these defenceless creatures have no chance. Except for one: The Hunt Saboteurs Association.
SABBING THE SLAUGHTER
It is important that saboteurs go out whenever the hunts go out. This is the one time with hunts that often all you can do is try and keep the kill rate down to one or two. I've seen one hunt kill seven foxes in three hours. Sabs stop thekilling by getting the hounds out of the covert or field with the usual tactics of horn blowing and voice calls. The young hounds are the easiest to call out. This breaks down the bond between the huntsman and the hounds. Sabs very often find this a difficult time, because blowing the horn to get the hounds can easily put them onto a fox which cannot escape. So, all they can do is try their best and not get too disheartened. In root crops, it is worse because the fox which is resting in the crop cannot move as fast as the hounds, because it is smaller and cannot run over the crops, so it has to crawl on the ground. It does not help when the huntsman or whipper-in can usually see it and rides over to where the fox is, calling the hounds. If it does manage to get out, then again the riders may push it back into the jaws of the hounds. Sabs have to keep trying to get the hounds by calling with voice and horn even if nothing seems to be happening. They will probably be having an effect by keeping the hounds heads up or putting them off.
Willy Poole in his book: Hunting, An Introductory Book. says about a hunt's failure to catch a fox: "....noise, bad noise has probably saved more foxes than almost anything else for it distracts hounds, especially young hounds, and breaks their concentration. The only sound they should he hearing is the cry of their elders and betters. Shouting gets hounds heads up when they should be on the ground smelling..." So, with sabs making some noise, they should be having an effect, even if the hounds are not rushing out to their side.