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Autumn Hunting

Keri Davies Keri Davies | 13:14 PM, Wednesday, 21 September 2011

hedgeline with tree

There has been some concern among listeners about Freddie Pargetter's keenness to follow in his father's hoofsteps and to go 'autumn hunting'. Some people have suggested that we are portraying - even encouraging - an illegal activity.

I'm happy to be able to assure listeners that we aren't.

In years past, 'cubbing' or cub hunting took place before the formal opening of the hunting season in late October or early November. It was a way of training new hounds to scent and chase foxes, and to work as a pack. This activity became known as 'autumn hunting' some time before the Hunting Act 2004 made it illegal, along with mainstream fox hunting.

The hunting that we portray in The Archers is all legal within the act. So in the autumn hunting that Freddie is keen to join, the hounds and riders follow scented trails, not foxes. Nonetheless, hunts keep up the traditions of autumn hunting They go out in early morning or late afternoon, sporting not the hunting 'pink' (actually red), but the more informal mode of dress known as 'ratcatcher'. And the trail is usually laid through woodland rather than open countryside.

We are very aware that hunting is an emotive issue on both sides of the debate, and we always ensure that, over time, a range of views on this topic are aired in The Archers. Jill has already expressed her reservations about her grandson's enthusiam for hunting.

Keri Davies is an Archers (and Ambridge Extra) scriptwriter and web producer.


Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Thanks for this info., Keri--I found it interesting as I'd genuinely not heard the expression 'cubbing' or 'Autumn Hunting' before it came up on the programme, having never lived in the country, I suppose, although I am aware of some of the pro- and anti- arguments about the 2004 Hunting Act, and I knew about the earlier Countryside March which (mysteriously) wasn't mentioned on TA at the time.

  • Comment number 2.

    Listeners might find this thread on the Archers Message Board interesting/amusing -

    Eleven and on a lead rein hunting!!!! Surely he will die of shame...
    www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbarchers/NF2693940?thread=8277865

  • Comment number 3.

    You should not have to explain or apologise for Autumn Hunting (as the lefties will now have us call it). Hunting is a perfectly natural country sport and should be unashamedly promoted within the programme. Jill's attitude towards Freddie's participation is distasteful, to say the least.

  • Comment number 4.

    It's a shame that the scriptwritters continually refer to hunting as 'going out with the hunt'. People don't talk like that; they say, 'I'm going hunting' or 'I'm hunting tommorow'.

    As for the rights and wrongs, it is a proven fact that hunting is more popular than ever since the ban, and any child who is involved with their local pony club is likely to want to move on to hunting.

    The comment above also suggests that all hunt followers wear 'pink'. In fact, only hunt staff wear red; it helps to identify them in the field.

  • Comment number 5.

    Dear Mr Davies,

    Ambridge is in central England. Hunting would be deeply ingrained in the inhabitants and supported hugely.

    The way the SW's write this is beyond belief. Are they ignorant of country affais or under some sort of instruction?

    As for "Autumn Hunting"..... PAH!

  • Comment number 6.

    The worry is not whether hunting is or is not legal and whether or not it ought to be portrayed as happening; it is what the fisk sort of rider Freddie is meant to be. He gallops about looking over his left shoulder and geeing the horse on by gripping with his heels, and gets clear rounds in the jumping at gymkhnanas, but has to be coached over two small jumps on a leading rain. What is going on here?

    Our Freda has beautifully summed up the concern felt by some of us about leading reins for eleven-year-olds who seem by previous accounts able to ride really quite well without them, in a poem (after John Betjemen) called "Millie's Lament": http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbarchers/NF2693940?thread=8278562

  • Comment number 7.

    >I knew about the earlier Countryside March which (mysteriously) wasn't mentioned on TA at the time

    This is a myth which I am keen to correct. I assume you are talking about the Countryside Rally in Hyde Park in July 1997. Because of the speed with which this event was arranged, we weren't able to give it advance coverage in the programme. But the day of the rally itself was dramatised in considerable detail. A writer, a producer and two actors actually attended the rally and recorded specially written scenes on location, with the sounds of the real rally in the background, and those scenes were cut into that evening's episode.

    I know this very well, because I was the producer in question.

    We also featured the Liberty and Livelihood March in September 2002 in a big way, with a coach from Ambridge taking numerous characters to London.

  • Comment number 8.

    A last minute addition was inserted, but other broadcasters of the programme, such as the BFBS, transmitted the original. This may have led to a certain amount of confusion.

  • Comment number 9.

    Just be thankfull that Freddie is finally going hunting! He'll do away with the lead rein half an hour after the hounds move off, I'm sure!

  • Comment number 10.

    Dear Mr Davies,

    I thought the countryside marcg was in 2002?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2274129.stm

    As reported by the BBC?

  • Comment number 11.

    Good for Freddie's Granma. I would like to disagree with all the above supporteres of dear little Freddie going off and killing defenceless animals for a bit of fun, no it is NOT normal to teach this to your children. I hope Freddie falls off his horse and is spoken of in hushed tones ever after!

  • Comment number 12.

    Surely "illegal activities" often ARE portrayed in BBC dramas?

    I seem to recall even murders - all over the place.

    So why NOT have the local hunt going well beyond the law when there was no-one to see? Too realistic?

  • Comment number 13.

    heatherfeather58 Freddie is not going off to kill anything, as a cursory glance at both the initial post and the law in question would make obvious.
    Wishing death upon young children is OK, presumably?
    (And don't give me he's fictitious. So are all the foxes in Borsetshire.)

  • Comment number 14.

    I hope Freddie dies and if he falls off a horse and is eaten by a fox I'd cheer. He's a tedious character brought in to fill the space left by Nigel and I don't give a stuff about him other than to wish him well away from the airwaves which means in this case, death. He's fictitious. As would be the fox that ate him.

  • Comment number 15.

    I can see both sides in the hunting debate, but what I find puzzling is the description of a fox as a 'defenceless animal'.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10251349

  • Comment number 16.

    Autumn hunting was introduced by the Countryside Alliance following the ban, it is used to hind the fact that cub hunting is using a family of foxes to train new hounds.
    Most people find this offensive rather like dog fighting with 6 month old pups!
    Also the phrase "hunting is an emotive issue on both sides of the debate" is another Countryside Alliance smoke screen as over 70% of the population do not support hunting and this attempts to portray hunting is a 50-50 issue.
    This article is most dishonest and misleading and biased.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hugo, saying that an issue is 'emotive' on both sides of the debate, means that both sides feel strongly; it doesn't imply anything whatsoever about what percentage of the population that occupies each side.

  • Comment number 18.

    When people talk about sides they usually think in terms of binary items; heads or tails; true or false; yes or no; good or bad.
    This leads to a 50 - 50 split in most people minds - its planned that way by the Countryside Alliance.
    Stag hunting has 96% against it but never referred to as emotive issue!

  • Comment number 19.

    I'm with Organoleptic Icon. Illegal activity is a mainstay of TV and radio drama and, as hunts continue to go about their business regardless of the law, and dismiss anyone who feels this is wrong as sentimental leftie townies, they should be portrayed as doing so in The Archers. There are plenty of country folk who do not agree with hunting, and will be glad when hunts finally realise that hunting live quarry for fun isn't a 'human right' and that, along with the rest of us, they are not exempt from obeying the law. Little Freddie is from a hunting family who would no doubt be amongst those eagerly and illegally continuing to hunt. This is an issue that should be raised on The Archers, not casually dismissed by having them drag hunting. Most hunts start their day by announcing "this is a legal hunt", then nonchalantly heading off to 'accidentally' pick up a live scent. Cub hunting is an even more disgusting 'sport' in which young dogs who wouldn't naturally chase a fox rather than, say, a rabbit, are trained to do so. The activity should be explained by both pro- and anti-hunt characters if you really want to depict hunting as part of country life, especially as Jill is already voicing her concerns. It's illegal, but continues to happen. We shouldn't become complacent about it.

  • Comment number 20.

    Oh, and Nemo39, While I find the use of the phrase "defencless animal" to be clicheed, overused and somewhat cutesy when used by people trying to encourage higher animal welfare (especially when faced with people trying to discourage animal welfare), a fox does have very little defence when being chased for hours across open coutryside by a pack of braying hounds and a mob of people on galloping horses. It's not exactly common for a fox to enter a house, let alone head upstairs, climb into a cot and attack children. I grew up in the forest and never once heard of a fox attacking anyone, and you could be certain that if one ever had then the old foresters would churn the story out year after year.

  • Comment number 21.

    Lets be honest about hunting, most hunting takes place in winter when the weather is wet. So what farmer would want a parade of 4 x 4 vehicles churning up the road verges and fields and a group of riders pitching up his pasture fields (and public footpaths). The answer is no one wants that. However most farmers do not have a choice; they are either tenant famers and have no say or are small to medium farms who need the support of the larger estates for loans of harvest machinery etc. So if they say no then this support and help is withdrawn. Hunting is a relic of our feudal past and the law needs to be re-written to place the same rules and regulations on hunting dogs and remove all the convenient exceptions they currently have.
    Let the writers inject some reality into the storyline.


  • Comment number 22.

    I suppose there's no real harm in the mindless rantings, total falsehoods and unmitigated carp in the last three or four posts, if it helps you spit on your sandals a bit less, but I really do think people who can happily fantasize about harming children should have some kind of action taken against them.

  • Comment number 23.

    Heatherfeather58, you wrote "Good for Freddie's Granma. I would like to disagree with all the above supporteres of dear little Freddie going off and killing defenceless animals for a bit of fun, no it is NOT normal to teach this to your children. I hope Freddie falls off his horse and is spoken of in hushed tones ever after!"

    I presume you're totally vegan?

  • Comment number 24.

    A link exists between harming animals and people. If people hunt for sport and enjoy the aspects of killing and inflecting cruelty then research shows that his can lead into their private lives and they are more likely to harm there partner and children.
    You can dress hunting up as much as you like but it unleashes emotions like lust and love and they are very different.
    Oh Our_Freda I have never spat on my sandals thats a hunters thing i believe!

  • Comment number 25.

    Hugo, are you saying that everyone who hunts "enjoys the aspects of killing and inflecting cruelty" and therefore that everyone who hunts is "more likely to harm there(sic) partner and children"?

  • Comment number 26.

    "then research shows that his can lead into their private lives and they are more likely to harm there partner and children."

    Please can you provide the evidence for this?

    A very large majority of those who damage their partner or children by brutalising them have never been on a hunt in their lives, as far as I have ever seen from my work in this field. Most of the ones I have observed would be hard pushed to stay on a horse at all, let alone to stay on a horse at speed and over fences.

  • Comment number 27.

    Prof Broom of Cambridge University

    http://talks.cam.ac.uk/show/archive/5378

  • Comment number 28.

  • Comment number 29.

  • Comment number 30.

    It would help if you could be a little more specific, in your first example: the needs of pet rabbits are important but not very relevant, I feel. Which of the umpteen papers on that page did you intend to signpost?

    In the second example, I note several things within the first couple of pages. The disclaimer at the beginning is a bit of a warning that this might not be an ideal paper for your purposes: "I emphasise that this is a /relation/ and not necessarily a causal one. Animal abuse does not inevitably lead to interpersonal violence."

    In the next paragraph there are many examples of undemonstrated hypothesis: "may make it more likely", "may desensitize", "the roots of human empathy may wither and die", "could serve as an early warning sign", "their threshold for being interpersonally violent may be lowered"

    but best of all, a little further on, we learn that "I have excluded socially and culturally sanctioned activities that harm animals, for example, certain agricultural practices, hunting and trapping, rodeos".

    So not about hunting, then.

    You wrote: "If people hunt for sport and enjoy the aspects of killing and inflecting cruelty then research shows that his can lead into their private lives and they are more likely to harm there partner and children."

    (Can, not does, I note.)

    I would suggest two things: one, that many children are cruel to animals, grow out of it and never go on to be violent to anyone else, and two, that every person who is violent to another person is likely to have wished to be so before they actually do it (I exclude from this "crimes of passion" in which somebody snaps under stimuli and attacks a tormentor) and is very likely to have "practiced" on more socially-acceptable targets then for example children. But the suggestion of causality is similar to linking use of alcohol to use of heroin: it is likely that most if not all heroin users have tried alcohol, but very likely that alcohol users will not progress to using heroin.

  • Comment number 31.

    Hugo101, you link to research based on the established correlation between cruelty to animals and abuse of humans by other humans.

    You have not responded, however, to my post 25.
    It simply asks "Are you saying that everyone who hunts "enjoys the aspects of killing and inflecting cruelty" and therefore that everyone who hunts is "more likely to harm there(sic) partner and children"?"

    "Yes" or "No" would suffice.

  • Comment number 32.



    And here we go!! You are hilarious OF.

    Who precisely has fantasised about harming children? I have fantasised about Freddie, a tedious little /fictional/ character having his head eaten by a fox. Good job Hillaire Belloc's dead otherwise no doubt you'd have had him hung drawn and quartered.

    I only wish I could truthfully say I 'd eaten three babies for dinner just to get the rise out of you! Ha ha ha ha ha.

  • Comment number 33.

    I am now leaving here: it is too much of a bore to get out of here to where I want to be, and I don't think that bothering to check on references is how I want to spend the rest of the weekend. Bye all.

  • Comment number 34.

    John Lowe writes...."You should not have to explain or apologise for Autumn Hunting (as the lefties will now have us call it). Hunting is a perfectly natural country sport and should be unashamedly promoted within the programme. Jill's attitude towards Freddie's participation is distasteful, to say the least."

    Dismissing all who disagree with hunting as "lefties" betrays a very immature and ignorant attitude. Does he not know that there are Labour supporters who agree with hunting (Melvyn Bragg is only one of many) and prominent Tories (Ann Widdicombe amongst them) who are fiercely anti-hunt? What would Mr Lowe have us call the pro-hunt lobby? "Fascists" maybe? The idea is laughable and shows a lack of understanding of a complex issue.

    Furthermore, to say that Jill's anti-hunt stance is "distasteful" is the worst kind of fascism - in that it doesn't allow for the possibility of an alternative point of view to your own.

    Please, Mr Lowe, accept the fact that whilst you may enjoy it, not all country dwellers (by a long way) support the acceptance of such a barbaric practice.

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm happy with TA making people aware that the despicable practice of chasing a wild animal and ripping it to pieces for so-called SPORT is still alive and well in rural Britain. I hope that Freddie comes home and says how horrible it was and he never wants to go there again.

  • Comment number 36.

    Yes, much more humane for the foxes, if individuals become a problem to farmers, to be shot and often have a slow, lingering death, and for the rural fox population (which has no natural predators) to become visibly more unhealthy, so that seeing old, mangy foxes (the mange is a prevalent disease - I'm not using a slang term) becomes much more prevalent.

  • Comment number 37.

    Before the hunting ban, the sight of foxes in urban areas dying slowly and painfully from sarcoptic mange was unknown to me. Now I see them on a regular basis. I'm told that there's no connection between these two things, but I do wonder....As for the sight of what happened to the hens in a hen house after a fox got in, that was far from pleasant....nature red in tooth and claw...

  • Comment number 38.

    When I was young I was anti hunting and refused to consider any other view.Just following my pack of peers you might say.Then I grew up and decided to find out for myself the pros and cons of both sides. When you do this the argument has to be on the side of hunting as the best form of control. A healthy fox will usually escape and the sick or old foxes ( usually the ones which will attack livestock and have to be controlled) will be dispatched quickly and cleanly. Unlike the shooting option which can lead to a slow lingering death. A lot of hunters and hunt followers are the farmers in the hunt area and it is not the "class war" that the weards with beards (of both sexes) who have hijacked the anti hunt lobby would have you believe. It would be helpful if some of these could also grow up and put forward a coherent argument instead of just parroting the same old phrases and mantras!

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    I'm ambivalent about fox hunting. I worked as a groom in a hunting yard and have been hunting but, as I say, I'm neither for nor against. However, I must just correct something that was said up thread (up blog?) and its something that gets trotted out everytime the hunting debate rears its head.

    There is the idea that when a fox was hunted it was chased over a very long distance. This is correct.

    However, the fox was not chased by a pack of foxhounds inches from its brush with the mounted field on the sterns (tails) of the hounds. This simply did not happen. The hounds were sent into the covert (a wood, a kale field) where foxes were known to be. A pack of fox hounds, with the followers makes a lot of noise and any fox would have taken it's leave as soon as the 'field' approached. The actual sport was the hounds working together to pick up the freshest scent. One would find the scent and start to 'sing' (bark/howl) its news to the rest of the pack. They would then follow the scent. They would be 15, 20, 30 or more minutes behind the fox. The hunstman and his 1 or two assistants would follow the hounds some way behind. The field of mounted followers were held back by the Master until the hounds are well away then they would go where they were told. They often didn't see the hounds again. 95% of them never saw the fox the hounds were hunting. A few would be there at a kill, but not many. And a kill was quick - the lead hound jumping on the fox and breaking its back before breaking its neck with a bite. Any 'tearing apart' was done by the hounds after death.

    While this may be distastful to many, it is a totally different picture than the one painted so often of fox, hounds, mounted field just yards from each other for the duration of a hunt.

  • Comment number 41.

    Well done Bollynix. A sensible explanation about what actually happens from someone who obviously knows. I notice no comments from the great unwashed! But then logical argument has never been their strong point. Just hysteria and threats make up their limited thought process. Or is there one out there who can string two sentences together without abuse?

 

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