Since posting yesterday about walked up fox shooting, I’ve had a few comments and emails about the idea of getting a gun pack up onto the hill for a day’s fox shooting. Rather than respond to them all individually, I thought I’d write a seperate post on the subject.
The idea of a gun pack is certainly very valid, but the nature of the Chayne makes it extremely difficult. The last time there were hounds on the hill, some were missing for days. Sadly, the farm is surrounded on three sides by mature commercial woodland, and any foxes flushed by the dogs invariably make for the cover of the trees. As soon as they cross the march dyke, they are out of bounds and are as safe as they would be in the back of an RSPCA van. We spent two days searching for a small party of hounds which broke off from the main pursuit and followed a fox far into the distance, and it’s hard to get anyone with a reasonable number of dogs to come back for a second time once they’ve spent hours trying to catch up with dogs that just vanish into the trees.
It’s also extremely difficult to find sufficient numbers of guns to cover the most likely spots, considering that walking is a huge part of life on the hill. There are significant parts of the farm which cannot even be covered by quad bikes, so logistically, it’s quite a tall order to get a team of guns spread into the right position after a three or four mile walk. Like the huntsmen, guns politely claim to have enjoyed their day, but they seldom come back when the threat of a six or seven mile round trip on foot is called for. Particularly if there isn’t even anything to shoot anyway.
If there were woods or small plantations on the Chayne, it would be a great idea to work them out with hounds, but there are none of these at present. The hill is a 1,600 acre desert of rushes, long grass and heather, and the slightest disturbance instantly sends foxes trickling back into the safety of the neighbours’ trees. I would very much like to have another go with a gun pack, and I’m certainly not against the idea, but the logistics of martialling so many people and dogs on rough terrain would have confounded Rommel.