Boxing day 2016 showed seemingly record numbers for the public traipsing out in all varieties of weather to partake in hunting meets all over the UK. But what does that actually mean for hunting?
The majority of these onlookers probably don’t make it out to any – or at least not many – other days during the hunting calendar, and that may grate on the hunting habits of some, but others may see it as a very good sign for the British tradition.
ITV claimed that ‘hundreds of thousands’ (see article here) wrapped up and showed up to cheer on their local hounds and horses on Boxing Day 2016, which is a promising number indeed.
It’s been over ten years since the ban was thrust at us under Tony Blair’s government, and protests to both remove and keep the ban have been prominent for that duration since. Sabs are getting savvier, they’re louder and lairier than ever, and yet it seems far more than a bitesize chunk of the population were happy to show they support back in December. A public declaration of encouragement is great publicity for the cause, a lot of those bystanders may not fully understand what the hunt is, or does, but they were still game for being a part of it.
But is wrapping up in coats and hats, sipping on port and left over sloe gin once a year enough to help? To make a smidgeon of difference? What good will it do if they then go back to the comfort of their armchairs and Christmas TV and not think about it again unless it pops up in their magazines, newspapers, social media feeds?
It’s not about getting people to join the hunts financially, but for all those who were happy to be part of the country folk on December 26th each year, would contributing instead to the kitty that is the rural voice, speaking out in favour, be so hard I wonder…
Positive press is a good start for hunting and its reputation, and a change in public perception is needed to fight off those sly sabs out there, let’s hope this year’s turn out is a trot in the right direction for a better understanding of the rural tradition so many are passionate about.