In episode 3 of our four part 'I am a hunt saboteur' series we sit down and ask some tough questions about what it means to stand between the hunters and the wildlife they seek to destroy. Below is the transcript for the latest video embedded above.
The video is non graphic and does not show any footage of a fox being killed.
"The worst thing I've ever seen is a fox be killed. In my three years of hunt sabbing I've only witnessed two kills but both times unfortunately I was first on the scene. It was me that literally pulled the fox's body from the hounds and the first time it happened, and this might sound over the top to anyone who doesn't share the same mindset as myself, but it was the worst day of my life. I've never gone through something so traumatic as that and there's so many things that go through your head. So the day I witnessed by first kill we were following the hounds, we were quite close with them, but they bolted and got to another field and they were a good distance away from us. That's when we heard them go into cry. And when the hounds go into cry, it's a phrase used by hunt sabs, it's when the hounds get a scent of a fox and they make this noise and to me it's terrifying. It's one of the worst sounds I've ever heard when the hounds go into cry because you know they're onto something. At this point we were a field behind them trapped behind really thick bramble bushes and there was no way to get to them. But when the hounds went into cry something just snapped in my brain and I knew I had to get there.Somehow, I managed to break through this bramble bush and got over to the field where the hounds were. They'd gone into this wooded area, I managed to get there on my own at this point, I managed to get into the wooded area where the hounds were, but it was just chaos. All I saw in that moment was the fox run past my eyesight, I thought it was getting away but they had a rider on point.Someone on a horse at the end of the wooded area to flush the fox back in and it did, and the fox just ran straight into the hounds. It was almost like time stood still a little bit; all I could see was this blur of orange surrounded by about fifteen hounds. At that point you know it's gone wrong.
I think what I've learned after is that when it goes wrong, what you do next will justify what has just happened. What you do next will define whether that fox died for a purpose or not. I was alone in that wooded area, I managed to get the fox back from the hounds themselves and break back into the field and what happens when the hunt kill is there next move is to get the body of the fox as quick as possible. They don't want anyone to see. Even they are ashamed of what they do.They will try and get the body back before anyone can get a photo of it so I knew in this moment I was now the target. The fox had been killed, I had the fox and so I was the target. The only thing I could do was put my head down and just run and thankfully by this point the rest of my team had got in the field and we were able to get the body back to the car. When I witnessed the first kill the hunt laughed. That's what they did when they'd learnt they killed that fox. My first thought was I had let this animal down, that's your first thought and that's a really hard thing to deal with. You're there to try and protect it and you think well if I wasn't there would it have run a different way and got away. It can destroy you and it did for a while but thankfully from the support of other sabs you never get over it but you have to understand that things will go wrong. You'd be very fortunate to be a hunt sab and never witness a kill.You have to learn that it's not your fault and you did do everything in your power. It is tough but it's the support that gets you through, it's the support that gets you back out in the field next week. There were a few photos of myself with the fox that went pretty viral which were shared around and it's important those pictures get shared around to show what happened on that day.But it is not nice to see a picture of yourself with that animal time and time again.
What I've learned over time is that in three years of being a hunt sab,I've only witnessed two kills and that's an incredible ratio of how many lives have been saved. It goes back to the effectiveness of hunt sabs, two foxes unfortunately killed in three years, if we weren't there it would have been 200 foxes. It is almost comical how ridiculous it is, that we as hunt sabs have to spend our days physically putting ourselves in-between these people who their thing for fun is killing foxes. If your thing for fun is killing an animal, having it torn to shreds by another animal, then there's something wrong with you.