The very word instantly polarises opinion and puts people on one side or another of a great divide.
But then I’m not sure that things are quite so black and white as they might seem at first hand.
Take me, for example. My father spent his childhood on a farm down in Kent. Shotguns, horses and the land were second nature. And even after a move to the more industrialised portions of the Shires, he never lost that love of the countryside and country pursuits. Witness the fact that I was taught to shoot as soon as I could pull a trigger.
In his case, accurate shooting (he was superb) meant food. Rabbits, pigeon etc. all formed part of the family diet in the post-War years.
With these antecedents, hunting you might say, would come naturally. Especially as all the riding schools I attended, as a child, had connections with local hunts.
As a reluctant meat eater, with views on animal rights, I can’t justify chasing an animal, putting it in fear of it’s life, then allowing a pack of hounds to rip it to shreds. However, I can sympathise with the farmer who’s just lost sheep to a marauding fox.
So what does this mean? Support the ban and enjoy the ride? Or say no to the whole thing?
Being a keen rider and having had brushes with the Duke of Beaufort’s, there’s no doubt that the opportunity to wallop along with a pack of hounds would be the ultimate adrenalin rush. Doing this on a drag trail sounds, to me, like heaven.
With the Offspring desperate to use grandfather’s Webley and happy to attempt a 6ft fence, regardless of ability to jump it, twenty-first century hunting might be for us.
Can I deny the genes?
Next year. When I’m straighter. I think we’ll give it a go.
Watch out Mendip Farmers’, we’ve got you in our sights.
[Editor’s note: We will be using gates, not jumping, whatever the child thinks she can do. The part cripple mother definitely won’t allow fences!]
[Picture credit: http://www.beauforthunt.com]