I read with interest Graham’s letter, “Hunting in pursuit of the inedible”, (Tuesday November 3), obviously well researched, he presents a strong case in response to the Countryside Alliance. However, there is one statistic missing from his research – poultry.
As a child I lived on a small poultry farm run part-time by our family. The hens ran free in the field behind the house, separated by a fence with a pedestrian access gate. One sunny afternoon I was playing at the side of the house when I was suddenly startled by a horse close by me as I was lying on the lawn.
“Have you seen him? Where did he go? Did he come this way?”
I looked up to see this giant on his horse shouting down at me. I was petrified, I couldn’t speak, I had no idea what he was talking about. I was seven, maybe eight. “Oh you don’t know, do you. Waste of time”.
And with that he turned his horse back through the gate into the hen run and galloped away, scattering the hens and leaving deep hoof prints in our lawn.
Occasional close contact with hunters over the years have led me to form the opinion that, once up on a horse for the purpose of hunting, even the most mild-mannered and affable of people turn into arrogant, overbearing bullies.
Some years after that, when I was 15, it was my job before I went to school, to feed and let out of their huts, hens which we kept in a field away from the house.
One morning I arrived to find all the hens were dead – obviously the work of a fox.
Now at the time the hunting ban was being debated I remember the editorial in The Star referring to hunting as “killing for pleasure”.
There were 28 hens in that hut, I counted 28 dead ones each with its head half bitten off.
Imagine the terror of those hens, being suddenly woken up and attacked, running round the hut with no chance of escape.
Imagine the glee of the fox as he dives around catching them. Now that is killing for pleasure. Live by the sword, die by the sword. At least the fox has a chance to escape.
The loss of those hens would have meant a loss of income of about 30 per cent for the next three years. Fancy taking a 30 per cent cut in your income for the next three years Graham?
It should be obvious that I am no friend of the hunt but I have no sympathy for the fox either.
We should be more concerned about protecting the livestock that produce our food rather than the predators that kill them.