With autumn fast approaching it won’t be long before the sound of the hunting horn will be drifting again through the mist to us, on one of those memorable early mornings that only this time of year can bring. Before then however, let us just spend a moment to look back at what has been a most enjoyable summer. It seems no time at all since I raced back from hunting with the Zetland in early March, in order to be at the Burton Kennels to see their Hounds returning from their last day. This was one day I will remember for a very good reason as it demonstrated just how important it is to encourage the younger generation. Neil Burton their Huntsman, on this occasion decided to hand the horn over to his Whipper In, Charlie Thomas. It was Charlie’s final day before going on to pursue a career in farming, so to hunt the Burton Hounds was a golden opportunity and certainly one he will never forget.
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With another eventful season over it was time to take stock and look at what would interest those of you who generously support our website. However two days later I was a couple of feet away of being taken out altogether in a car crash, so this opportunity nearly did not come about. Therefore, counting my blessings as spring became summer this former MFH decided to get on and enjoy himself. This brief account then is a taster of what he got up to.
It has been a fascinating year which started with the Suffolk Show which is held towards the end of May. It is one of the few Agricultural Shows which is still remarkably rural, although situated right on the edge of Ipswich which continues to grow at an alarming rate. The hound parades there are very much part of a central theme of the Show, with the Suffolk, Essex and Suffolk Foxhounds, Waveney, and Easton Harriers and the Stour Valley Beagles all in attendance again this year. After the displays had taken place, all the packs went back to the President’s ring where the public have a real chance to get up close to the hounds and are able to find out more about our activities. What fun it was seeing the young racing up and down the ring with the Huntsmen and their hounds, making many of us realise just how important it is for us to be on the right wavelength and engage with the public. If we do not act to make ourselves more approachable to those who have no understanding of our ways, we are doomed.
As the summer progressed, the Puppy Show season got itself underway and what a pleasure it has been to witness young hounds being brought for us all, not only to enjoy, but to scrutinise who has walked the best. There have been some lovely hounds about over the last few years and this year especially there has been no shortage of them, be they Basset, Beagle, Harrier, or Foxhound. They are of immense credit to the breeder, the walker and of course we must never forget those whose constant care they are under, in these most challenging times. Travelling over a large part of the country, from east to west and north to south, the hounds I have seen have been of quality and substance, all of which will help them do their job properly in the coming season. I will write an in depth report of Puppy Shows shortly, however it is most important to remember all those Masters and Hunt Staff who have been working extremely hard behind the scenes to ensure that when the season starts all is in order.
This summer has of course seen the aborted attempt to try and have that most ridiculous law adapted so some common sense can prevail and our way of life somewhat restored. Up to now we are still in the same ludicrous situation that we have found ourselves in for the last ten years, but one thing is for certain, there is a will out there never to lose hope. To give up is not in the dictionary of a hunting person. We must continually concentrate on sharing the true, undeniable facts, that the position as it stands at present is not acceptable. This means giving Politicians, Councillors, or any member of the British public willing to listen, that great opportunity to find out more about us. Our record on animal welfare is of the highest and is there for all to see, so let us waste no time in ensuring, they know it.
In the meantime, summer is turning to autumn and shortly we will be lucky enough to hear the first hound open on that very first morning. We must enjoy every minute and look forward to what the season ahead will bring. There is still nothing quite like what Hunting England has to offer.