I am, by and large, an anglophile. I love British shotguns, British humor, the famously dry British wit, British history, British gundogs, but every now and then I see something from Old Blighty that makes the American in me exclaim “Dude, WTF?!”
Something like this story from the Washington Post:
Six years after hunting with dogs was banned here, a pack of black-and-tan hounds is in full cry across this swath of semirural southern England, urged on by a huntsman and riders resplendent in fox-hunting habit. Somewhere up ahead is their quarry – limping slightly and straining every sinew to throw the hounds off the scent. The Hunting Act, which became the law of this land in 2005 following months of protest and parliamentary debate, made it illegal to use dogs to hunt foxes. It also protects some other mammals, such as hare (but not rabbits), mice (but not rats) and mink (but not men). Several pink-cheeked and puffing specimens of which are now scrambling through hedgerows of hawthorn and wild rose, plunging into icy irrigation channels and laboring across plowed fields that are sodden with just-thawed snow from Britain’s uncharacteristically cold winter. This is a manhunt.
_”… The Coakham Hunt began “hunting men for fun,” as its Web site boasts, well before fox hunting became illegal. Hunting foxes can be a dangerous pastime, and not just for the fox. That’s because foxes show so little concern for the welfare of their pursuers: They’ll dart across major roads and leap over train tracks, with unwitting members of the pack following doggedly along behind. Sometimes to their doom. Which is why some 30 years ago the veteran fox hunter and co-founder of the Coakham, Nigel Budd, decided to develop a sport that “would combine all the arts of venery together with a controllable quarry.” A human being. Men, Budd argued, can be instructed to stay away from roads and railway tracks. They also avoid disturbing farmers’ livestock. And they can choose to lead the hounds and horsemen on a challenging chase over the highest hedges and the triangular wooden fences known as tiger traps.
Traditional English foxhunts using men instead of foxes. I don’t know if that’s brilliant or creepy. Thoughts?