Trail hunting is an activity that traditional fox hunts have claimed to be carrying out since fox hunting was made illegal in 2004. Instead of chasing and killing a live mammal, ‘trail hunting’ is the claim made by hunts that they are following a pre-laid artificial scent. More than 9 times out of ten hunts never lay a trail and even when they do it is usually so that they have an alibi should they need it later on.
The notion of ‘trail hunting’ is nothing but a “smokescreen” for the real thing and a recently leaked webinar of a meeting between senior hunting officials and an ex police chief has blown the trail hunting lie to pieces once and for all. The footage released by the Hunt Saboteurs Association and subsequently reported on by ITV News showed high ranking members of the Hunting Office and the Masters of Fox Hounds Association discussing the best ways to get around the 2004 Hunting Act. It also showed an admission that trails are laid as a “smokescreen” – irrefutable and damning evidence from the hunters themselves that trail hunting is nothing but a trail of lies.
Drag hunting is entirely different. Whereas so-called ‘trail hunts’ claim to be following a trail as opposed to live mammals, drag hunts actually do follow a pre-laid artificial scent around a designated course. The person drags a material soaked in aniseed or another powerful substance which the dogs then follow. Whilst the same dogs are used it is a lot rarer that wildlife will be accidentally chased and killed as the dogs are following a pre-laid trail.
There is also what’s known as ‘Hunting the clean boot’. This is a form of drag hunting that does not involve an artificial scent or the use of foxhounds. This form of hunting uses packs of bloodhounds who are traditionally slower than foxhounds and follow a natural human scent trail. Clean boot hunts are traditionally run in a similar format to drag and trail hunts in which a field of mounted riders follows a pack of hounds and usually occurs in the Autumn, Winter and early Spring. Hunting the clean boot does not involve the deliberate chasing and killing of wildlife as the hounds are not trained on a fox scent.