07 February 2012
Since then I've been wondering, how does it work, hunting with a bird of prey? According to a Source, the eagle-owl is there only as a symbol. It would be very difficult to prove to anybody that it is the owl which kills the fox and not the pack, especially when the owl is following behind in a van. The hunt is employing a bird of prey, and that is what matters.
The fox is the symbol of Leicestershire, proof that people don't hate foxes around here: they love them. 'I used to hunt and it was nothing to do with killing a fox,' says my Source. 'It was the thrill of the chase. I used to love riding hard over open country on a horse... you never knew where the fox was going to take you.'
It is only the weak (old, young and ill) foxes that are killed by the hunt, continues the Source. The crowd on horseback, enjoying their day out, do not stand a chance with a fit fox. They would hunt with greyhounds and shot guns if pest control was the aim, or they would put down poison. As another village dweller says, 'If they really wanted to kill foxes they'd be wearing boiler suits and they certainly wouldn't be on a horse.' People with livestock to protect ignore the old rituals and go out at night themselves, looking for a pair of eyes reflected by a torch.
'The hunting law is so precise and badly framed that prosecutions are not successful. It's much more fun now,' declares the Source, 'having a law that doesn't work.'