Can fox hunting be educational? Yes - according to hunt master

PUBLISHED: 13:00 01 March 2012

The West Norfolk Fox Hounds Asscociation getting ready for the Boxing Day Hunt, starting from Fakenham Race Course. Picture Matthew Usher.

The West Norfolk Fox Hounds Asscociation getting ready for the Boxing Day Hunt, starting from Fakenham Race Course. Picture Matthew Usher.

Archant © 2011 01603 772434

Last week’s article about a planned school trip to take children to a hunt sparked a heated debate on The Hunts Post’s website, Here CATE MUNRO asks explores if a hunting trip has any educational value.

Hunting reaction: Against

Kateg: “The comments from the sad minority who are supporting this unfortunate decision use the same, tired old adjectives such as ‘predjudice’, ‘country traditions’, don’t understand country ways’.

“It shows the arrogance that is apparent by the hunts and their ilk. They ignore the law of the land and think they speak for the countryside yet they speak for a sad minority who get pleasure from cruelty.”

Christine Ehlers: “I taught primary for 40 years. In science we made a point, as we should, of a general ‘respect for life’. Bringing children to observe animals being torn apart, tortured or killed is mind-blowing. Shame on the school.”

Aguila Pescadora: “I have written a letter to the head of this school objecting to the sending of young children on such barbaric outings. Personally I think the school should be closed pending an investigation. There are a lot more educational trips the children could go on.”

Ali Keane: “I think any parent that would let their child go on a hunt as a school trip is gone in the head. They’re especially stupid by voicing the opinion of the Countryside Alliance that it is a part of great rural life.”

Denise: “Schools should be teaching children about caring for and protecting animals, not taking them to watch a hunt.”

GEORGE Bowyer believes it was wrong for a rural school to block its children from watching a fox hunt.

But as the joint master of the Fitzwilliam Hunt, based in Peterborough, you would expect him to put forward this view.

Mr Bowyer believes children, including those at Ashbeach Primary School in Ramsey St Mary’s, whose trip to a hunt was cancelled following a complaint from a parent, need to experience both sides of the fox-hunting debate and be allowed to make up their own minds.

“Each side of the hunting debate is passionate,” he said. “Using a balanced approach in the classroom is a good thing. Actually going out to see a hunt for themselves isn’t unbalanced, as long as the other side of the argument is also presented.”

Hunting reacton: For

Zeb: “If people don’t want their children participating on trips like these, they have a simple choice – don’t let them. It’s their choice after all, but some parents do want their children to have a better understanding of rural life. I hope the school doesn’t take any more nonsense from a minority of townies who have no concept of what goes on in a rural community.”

David: “I just wish that people would understand that people don’t hunt to kill! I certainly don’t, and I think if the only reason people went out hunting was to kill the animal for fun, I too would oppose it. When the animal is caught, it nearly always happens out of sight and is very quick. And please, don’t call it a blood sport – blood sports are like bull fighting and bear baiting, where it is all about the animal being killed, and where the animal has zero chance of escape.”

Parsonk2001: “The parents involved could have simply opted their children out of the class trip for goodness sake. There was no need for this article at all – the school does so much for its pupils in every way possible. Why spoil the reputation when all the parent had to do is say they did not want their child to go.”

Claire Wright: “What exactly does the Poolman family have against this school? I believe it was they that also kicked up a fuss about the wildfowling trip. The school should be commended for allowing the children to access the facts of a matter and make an informed decision on controversial issues.”

Age should also not be a barrier to watching parts of a hunt. Mr Bowyer has been hunting since the age of six and said it was important for young people to gain an appreciation of the reasons behind fox-hunting which, he argued, was used largely as a means of fox-control.

“There are many different types of hunting,” he added, “but most of them are merely fox-control activities.

“By taking children on a trip to watch a hunt they would see the person riding ahead, dragging the scented rag along the ground. They would see the hounds and the huntsmen, but it’s highly unlikely they would actually see an animal dying.”

The Fitzwilliam Hunt is over 250 years old and its masters are regulars in Cambridgeshire primary schools, offering to educate children about the sport.

“The anti-hunt argument is very black and white,” he told The Hunts Post. “They say the foxes are frightened, that fox-hunting is cruel and should be banned. But we try to get people to see that every single fox dies a horrid, nasty death anyway – most of them starve to death or are snared or trapped.”

Mr Bowyer added that the nature of hunting meant that most hunt riders seldom saw a fox being killed.

“Its not a case of the nasty hunters getting pleasure out of seeing the killing of a fox,” he added. “They are usually three or four fields away.”

The Hunts Post asked Ashbeach School whether it debated both sides of the fox-hunting argument with the Year 6 children who were scheduled to go on the trip on February 7, but staff declined to comment.

More news stories

Yesterday, 11:43

Police in St Neots are appealing for the public’s help to trace this woman.

Yesterday, 10:45

Footfall in Huntingdon is at its highest level since recording started in 2013, according to data released by BID Huntingdon.

Yesterday, 10:18

Criminal cases could be transferred to Huntingdon Law Courts if a proposal to close Cambridge Magistrates’ Court gets the go-ahead.

Yesterday, 07:48

A 49-year-old man who raped a young girl he should have been looking after has been jailed.

Most read stories

Local business directory

Cambridgeshire's trusted business finder

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

Read the Hunts Post e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter