Archive for the ‘Foxes’ Category

There’s hunting and there’s HUNTING

I am reposting this from MikeB’s blog.  No allegations of plagiarism, please, since I wrote the original post, which was published on 24 Aug 11 (which relates to the Glorious Twelth comment).  I want to do this since I will be discussing hunting in relation to shooting, which this show are two different concepts.

I realise this post is late for the Glorious Twelfth (and the repost is too early), but I think most people’s minds were still on the riots at that time instead of grouse shooting.

For the most part, hunting has been the pastime of the landowning classes and royalty–even with the popularisation of the sport in the US. Two good reasons for this–they have the land and they have the time. But, I am not talking about using firearms to hunt.

As hunting moved from a subsistence activity to a social one, two trends emerged. One that of the specialist hunter with special training and equipment. The other was the emergence of hunting as a ‘sport’ for those of an upper social class. The meaning of the word “game” in middle English evolved to include an animal which is hunted. As game became more of a luxury than a necessity, the stylised pursuit of it also became a luxury. Dangerous hunting, such as for lions or wild boars, often done on horseback or from a chariot, had a function similar to tournaments and manly sports. Hunting was considered to be an honourable, somewhat competitive pastime to help the aristocracy practice skills of war in times of peace.

One of the hunting methods which requires a firearm is also called stalking where one follows signs and trails of game (usually deer). The hunters slowly walk along trails persuing the game.

There are also driven shoots, where beaters are employed to walk through woods and over moors or fields, dependent on the quarry and time of year and drive game towards a line of 8 – 10 standing guns standing about 50 or 60 metres apart. The guns will have paid in the region of £25 per bird for pheasants and much more for grouse, and the total bag (number of birds shot) will be anywhere between 80 and 400, again dependent on the budget and quarry.

The day may be very formal, and the head gamekeeper or a shoot captain will oversee and great emphasis is placed on safety. Pickers-up with dogs are also employed to make sure all shot or wounded game is collected. On estates holding driven shoots, large numbers of pheasants, partridge and duck, but not grouse, are reared and released to provide sufficient numbers of game. Grouse cannot be reared intensively but the heather moorland where they live is intensively managed to maximise numbers.

Rough shooting, where several guns walk through a woodland, moor or field and shoot the birds their dogs put up, is increasingly popular. It is less formal and may be funded by several people grouping together to form a “syndicate”, paying a certain amount each year towards game and habitat maintenance.

Wildfowling is often a lonely and uncomfortable sport. A single gun sits in pursuit of wildfowl by a body of water, or on the coastal foreshore, often at dawn or dusk, and waits for birds to “flight” in. This is sometimes undertaken in total darkness or by the light of the moon. Duck are also shot on the two former methods.

The phrase hunting, however, has also refers to the traditional practice of chasing animals with packs of hounds, now illegal under the UK Hunting Act of 2004. In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there were many horse based hunt clubs in England.

One doesn’t need horses to hunt, as there is also beagling. Beagling is the hunting of hares, rabbits, and occasionally foxes with beagles. A beagle pack (20-40 hounds) is usually followed on foot. However, there is one pack of beagles in the U.S. which are distinguished as being the only hunting pack to hunt fox and be followed on horseback. Beagling is often enjoyed by ‘retired’ fox hunters who have either sustained too many injuries or lost the agility to ride horseback, or who enjoy the outdoors and the camaraderie of the hunt. It was also traditionally a way for young men to learn how to handle hounds on a smaller scale before they went on to hunt with foxhounds, and many famous public schools and universities had a pack of beagles.

The picture above is of the Connaught Square Squirrel Hunt (Laci and I are members of this hunt) which is the world’s only urban hunt and the first hunt club founded after the 2004 UK hunting ban. The CSSH drag-hunt squirrels across Hyde Park, meaning that one member runs through the park with an old sock on a string, and the dog chases after this pretend ‘squirrel.’ Close on the paws of the dog are the hundred or so sweating followers, trying to keep up. After no more than thirty seconds the dog catches the sock, has a good chew, and after a short break for everyone to catch their breath, it all starts again.

Ratting was a more democratised version of beagling and was related to rat baiting (one needs rats to bait). Ratters would collect, or kill, rats and other rodents with small dogs such as Jack Russels or Chinese Cresteds. Although, ratting dogs were typically working terrier breeds, which included, but were not limited to, the Bull and Terrier, Bull Terrier, Fox Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, Rat Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Traditional Boar hunts were seen as a test of bravery. Unlike modern hunts, boars were chased on foot or horseback with a specialized boar spear. The boar spear was sometimes fitted with a cross guard to stop the enraged animal driving its pierced body further down the shaft in order to attack its killer before dying. Dogs are used in the hunt to physically take hold of the boar, typically seizing the base of the boar’s ear. Once the catch dogs have physical control of the boar, they will hold it down by the head indefinitely until the hunter arrives. The hunter then comes in from behind the boar, and dispatches the boar with a knife or spear.

Hunting has been democratised in the US, but it still requires land where one is able to hunt. One aspect of this democratisation is that traditional methods of hunting have been replaced by the use of firearms. Additionally, landowners can bar hunters and shooters from their land. That leads to the question of whether the sport is truly popular if one has to have both the time and the land to hunt. State governments allow for hunting, but how long will that practise last?


Foxes Live: Wild in the City

Not a real urban fox.

The real deal that wanders amongst us

One of the things I have been mentioning on this blog is the urban fox since I was startled by seeing one in the shopping district created from the Old Duke of York’s Barracks off the King’s Road at 5PM in the evening.   Yes, it was crowded. And, Yes, very few people paid attention to a fox walking through the city.

It seems strange that these critters walk amongst us while few people notice. Or maybe people just choose to ignore them.

Anyway, Channel 4 is ran the first of a four part documentary series Foxes Live: Wild in the City this evening.  The programme hopes to bring a “fox-eye view” of Britain’s cities. Using the inevitable “cutting edge technology” and “state of the art tracking”, cameras will follow the creatures during their daily progress through garden sheds, streets and industrial estates. The producers also hope for audience participation in what will be the largest census of urban foxes made in Britain.

Nelson (or Vince) need not apply!

Posted 30/04/2012 by lacithedog in Channel 4, Fox, Foxes, urban foxes

All this firearms BS…

has kept me from blogging about the urban foxes. Even though I have to admit I am concerned about the little buggers. And this isn’t the first time I have mentioned the critters roaming London.

A fox mauled baby twins in Hackney back on Monday. This is an event that seems to be receiving far more press than Derrick Bird’s insane rampage in Cumbria. But it isn’t the first time a fox has allegedly mauled an infant.

On the whole, they are rather shy, but it doesn’t stop them from showing up in the most unexpected places, such as this one at Walthamstow Tube Station:
Or this one chasing Tony the Weasel at Number 10:

I’m keeping my opinions to myself about this video…

It’s amazing how many vids of London foxes there are on Youtube:

There were an estimated 10,000 foxes roaming London as of 2006 with some being able to access the Prime Minister as the above picture shows. Trust me, the little buggers are everywhere in the city. Urban fox levels are on the rise at the moment: there’s around 33,000 of them living in cities with a little under a third of them in London. That’s around 30 for every square mile in London. Googling “London Foxes” will net you as many webpages as foxes.

Again I mentioned seeing a fox wandering through a shopping mall at 17h00 (5PM) in what used to be the Duke of York’s barracks in Chelsea (I knew they should have never opened up the place to the public) and being told: “Oh, that’s nothing” while having a pint at my local, which is appropriately called the Fox and Hounds.

Radio 5 had a show where they asked if urban foxes should be culled. I have to admit an ambivalence about the critters since I am worried that Laci will get into a scrap with one. Although, the little beasts are fairly shy, but not shy enough to stay totally hidden. Fortunately, fox attacks are extremely rare, but any animal will fight if cornered: even a shy fox.

I think the real problem is that people need to realise these are wild animals even if they are in an urban environment. Some ninnies feed urban foxes (and wolves in the US) by leaving food out for them, which is a bad idea. Culling is a short term measure and other foxes would only replace the culled ones. Foxes are opportunists and if there’s an opportunity for more foxes to come and fill up the space, they will. Foxes also naturally gravitate towards where there is a food source and peoples rubbish provides just that. Additionally, foxes eat slugs and snails that most people do not want in their gardens.

I do have to admit I find the little buggers cute, but I wouldn’t treat them as if they were my pet.

Posted 10/06/2010 by lacithedog in Fox and Hounds, Foxes, urban foxes

More proof that British anti-hunting laws are nonsense.

OK, we don’t know the actual location of where this picture was taken, which means the premise of this post is a terrible assumption. But I can be busted for telling Laci “go get ’em, girl” when we’re chasing squirrels in the park. Soooo….

Likewise, after seeing a fox wandering through a shopping mall at 17h00 (5PM) in what used to be the Duke of York’s barracks in Chelsea (I knew they should have never opened up the place to the public) and being told: “Oh, that’s nothing” while having a pint at my local, which is appropriately called the Fox and Hounds. It seems that there are an estimated 10,000 foxes roaming London as of 2006 with some being able to access the Prime Minister as the picture shows.  Trust me, the little buggers are everywhere including Oxford Circus tube stop.  Googling “London Foxes” will net you as many webpages as foxes.

Unfortunately, short of being the Royal Family (and they would probably be busted if they held fox hunts in Kensington-Hyde Park), we are screwed at chasing the little buggers.  You have to give a shout to the local council to “relocate” the beasts.  Also, the animal rights crowd can complain at riding through paved cityscapes.  I know that Charles and Camilla like the sport: maybe they can be persuaded to start a city hunt.

I’m all for animals, but sometime they need to be culled: even if they remind me a bit of Laci.