I’ve alwasy made it my point to condemn the act of Fox Hunting, however I’ve recently come across the new art of Drag Hunting. What is drag hunting, and should we support this sport?
What is Drag Hunting?
In the 1800s, both the Oxford and Cambridge Universities formed Drag Hunting as a new form of equestrianism. It involves horse riders pursuing a generally non-animal based scent with hounds who are trained to locate the scent, instead of the scent of foxes. Today, since the UK 2004 Fox Hunting Amendment, Drag Hunting remains a non-violent and legal activity. Usually 20 minutes before the hounds set off in pursuit, a scent will be dragged across the activity field, and depending on the longevity of the day, may break the scent up in order to prolong the hunt.
What’s the Difference?
Fox hunting or Trail Hunting in the UK, whether legal or illegal, depending on how the fox is murdered, is just that, it kills the fox; however with Drag Hunting, the sport is in the pursuit of the scent, and not that of a final kill. Hounds are usually smaller or larger than regular hounds, and are trained purely to sniff out a prepositioned scent, which riders will follow on horseback to an area known to have little or no quarry (abundance of wild prey). Hounds are also kept under strict watch to ensure violent accidents don’t happen.
But Why Fox Hunt / Trail Hunt in the First Place?
In order to understand the mentality of Fox Hunting, it’s worth knowing why some people opt for a lifestyle of animal cruelty. A large portion of excuses laid out by hunters is that of Conservation, the act of protecting the natural wildlife by killing off certain pests – in this case foxes.
Foxes have been continuously slandered by the media as an irritation, stating they are the cause of many rural issues, such as the loss of farmer’s smaller livestock, like chickens. Coupled also with their tendency to Surplus Kill, wherein the fox kills all it can, only to eat one, though it’s argued that a fox’s natural tendency is to return to its multiple kills in order to transport its spoils to a safer place for later consumption, on the basis it isn’t disturbed, which is unlikely since a farmer is prone to discover their commodity loss, and therefore spook the fox from returning, laying the seed for the presumption that foxes are this evil mistake of nature.
Because of this issue, famers are likely to loose thousands of pounds through their loss of livestock, and will in turn, fund the Fox Hunting Businesses to protect their investments – though arguably they should invest their money into better protection for their livestock. Because of this, Fox Hunting has remained big, and still even afterthe 2004 UK Fox Hunting Bill, Fox Hunters have found ways to bypass certain restrictions, resulting in the continuation of such lucrative businesses, with standards, hierarchies, investors and tempting recreation being a standard.
Hunting is also seen as a quintessential part of the rural British culture, wherein hunting is seen as an enjoyable outdoor activity, which also blends the boundaries between the British classes.
But let’s be honest; Fox Hunting is a sport, a sport that’s entertaining to many, and uses the excuses of pest control and economic stabilisation as a way to conceal the true intention of sadism and bloodlust.
How it’s Done Legally
Believe it or not, Fox Hunting is legal with the use of a shotgun, providing the fox is shot in the head, instead of torn apart by the hounds. In modern terms, this is known as Trail Hunting, a legal form of hunting developed in 2005 to simulate a true hunt as accurately as possible. However, accidents do happen, and foxes are still injuredand undergo mental and physical torment before their inevitable demise. Hounds are also known to be euthanized at the end of their service, as are the horses, since they become an economic strain on the Fox Hunters once they are no longer fit to serve; a very unethical, and non-conservational way of doing things.
So is Drag Hunting Good?
With Boxing Day in the UK only days away, many will be taking to the countryside in the pursuit of either Drag Hunting of Trail Hunting. From the information above, it’s clear Drag Hunting is no way as unethical as Trail Hunting. Drag Hunting gives local communities the opportunity to partake in fun outdoor activities, creating a communal-like atmosphere with games and activities, of which contain no true danger to anyone or any animal, considering a Drag Hunt is never usually performed on an area of land where pre-ban fox hunting took place, ensuring there is little to no quarry.
Because huntsmen and huntswomen in Drag Hunting are also aware of the scent location, it ensures hounds and horses are never overworked, meaning the scent is found in a reasonable timeframe, unlike Trail Hunting, where horses and hounds can be severely overworked looking for a scent they may succeed in finding.
Yes, Drag Hunting is Good
Not only do Drag Hunts give the opportunity for communities to get together, they also provide much of the “fun” of a regular hunt, without any of the unnecessary animal suffering. Horses and hounds are exercised, and tracks and obstacles are strategically placed away from any farmland, communal areas, private gardens, roads or railways, and yes, they still retain much of the rural culture. Plus the much loved uniforms are usually a prerequisite.
Well, if you’re an animal activist, then Drag hunting can be seen two ways. 1. It’s still the use of animals against their will, tricking them to follow a scent that they as hounds are biologically programmed to successfully sniff out and kill, only for that not to be the case, or 2. You see it as the perfect alternative to a known blood sport, a sport that it likely never to go away.
However, if you’re viewing Drag Hunting as a regular Trail Hunter, then your argument may be that Drag Hunting negates the surprise or the exciting uncertainty of the scent / fox location. Though this does show an accidental admittance that Animal Conservation is not entirely the truest intention, and is used as a rather wet justification.
What Can You Do?
If you’re a regular Trail Hunter, or have had the idea of trail hunting on the mind, it may be worth giving Drag Hunting the benefit of the doubt, and giving it a go. If you feel as though it’s not for you, then hey, you tried, and all we can ask of you is that you see it in your heart to be a descent human being, and give up the archaic scientifically disproved activity of Trail Hunting.
Or if Drag Hunting is something that interests you as a spectator, then it may be wise to research you local area this coming Boxing Day – a known day for such events each year – so you can experience the atmosphere, and judge for yourself as to whether it’s something to involve yourself in.
What are your thoughts? Do you think Drag Hunting is an ethical alternative, and if not, why? Do you Drag Hunt yourself? And what is it like for you? Let usknow in the comments.