What would Mr Jorrocks think of fox hunting today? How hunting etiquette has changed.

July 12th 2017

If Mr Jorrocks were to come out for a day’s hunting in 2017 he would see much that he recognised from the nineteenth century. Indeed, at first glance, it would all appear familiar to him: from immaculately turned out hunt staff and smart riders on gleaming horses to the thrills and spills of the day itself.

Yet, apart from the obvious differences brought about as a result of the bans, road infrastructure and advances in farming, much more has changed. While the principles of courtesy and safety remain the same, some aspects of hunting etiquette have evolved in recent years.

The main differences are largely due to transport. It is no longer the norm to hack miles to or from a meet. In fact, it is not unusual for cars, trailers and lorries to be parked at, or very close to, the meet itself. In some hunting countries this extends to horses standing in their boxes while their riders join the meet on foot.

R.S. Surtees, and his infamous creation Mr Jorrocks, might turn in their graves. Yet few who have hacked many miles home on a busy country road in the dark would lament the safety and convenience the internal combustion engine provides. In fact, motorisation has brought a whole new audience to hunting who are able to follow on motorbikes and in cars. Many of these are the most avid and active of hunt supporters.

A more subtle difference is in clothing. While well-made woollen hunting coats continue to be smart and practical most of the time, some hunting people have looked at the advances in all-weather kit enjoyed by mountaineers and cyclists and have taken on board some of these developments. From the invisible addition of Goretex to the lining of coats to the now frequently seen rain jackets which protect from the worst of weathers, only the very traditional view them with suspicion.

Lastly, there has been a shift of which Jorrocks himself might approve: a much warmer welcome to the newcomer. As a former Cockney grocer he developed an all-consuming passion for fox-hunting but had to cope with the snobbery of his fellow enthusiasts. He was, of course, protected by his thick skin, but newcomers these days face no such scrutiny.

In fact, the Newcomers Day has become an established thing for most hunts. With the invitation extended to anyone who wishes to find out more about the sport, all are made welcome. Newcomers are told not to worry about having all the right kit but are simply requested to be smart and clean and willing to do as they are told by the Field Master.

So while the essence of the day has unquestionably changed since changes to fox hunting legislation, hunting communities and their traditions are still very much alive. But, while they hold on to many of the values which link them to earlier centuries, they have also moved (just a little bit) with the times.

Lycetts understands the world of hunting. From an equine insurance policy specifically tailored to hunters to liability insurance policies developed with the Hunting Office and designed for hunts, there is no substitute for talking to someone who fully understands the world of hunting and what it is you actually require from your insurance.

James Innes 3

James Innes

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