From The Reminiscences Of A First Whipper-in (1904)
"On October 27th, 1882, when the meet was at Thorpe
we had another clinking good day after a stormy blustering
• The largest number of cubs killed in one morning at Bradbury Wood is
ten, viz : — four and a half brace accounted for at the time, and one
picked up next morning, making five brace. It may be added that at the
same time six brace went away before a kill was recorded ! Possibly the
North Durham hounds have eclipsed this, as I hear on the authority of
their Master, that they once killed in one day the following mixed bag,
viz. : — a brace of foxes, two cats, one hare, one cock pheasant,
one weasel, and one hedgehog ! "
Also, you discover a good few horses fell (killed)and everything joyfully recorded yet when you
read the pages it is disturbing on a scale I had not thought about before. Yes, we know the extent of
fox killing but this book is typical of its kind at that time: these were the landed gents or people with
money and they took great pleasure at what they were killing and the numbers killed. Hares (causing
a bit of an argument because hares were the preserve of the hare hunters), dogs, cats -jolly fun.
I had never actually considered the psychological make-up of these people -other than the fact that they
were most definitely "disturbed" because of the enjoyment they got from killing vixens "in cub", cubs and
really, just about anything else that got in the way. Re-reading Russell's book I wondered what a
psychologist might make of it all? Certainly I would not want to live next door to these people.
The modern myth is that "all" country folk supported the fox hunts and this is actually a proven lie
-especially if you research the periodicals of the 18th and 19th centuries -it is only when some small
holders pets or live stock are killed and the impudent wretch takes legal action that we hear the "but
this is pest control!" excuse.
Looking at the numbers killed by just a few hunts you can see why the true British fox became
near extinct, in fact there may not be many true bloods in the UK now because many thousands
of foxes were imported yearly "for the sport of fox-hunting" and every manual on fox-hunting, every
magazine article as well as interviews with, ahem, as the press called them, "great hunters" made that
very clear: it was a rousing sport for gentlemen and ladies.
Then we have the "damn sad" state where earths are opened and searches made but no foxes to
kill -"Where are they all -we killed at least thirty last season!" It is almost like the sociopath killer
who looks around a body strewn bar because he can't find anyone else to kill. He shrugs and asks
"Where have they all gone -none left?"
It took between 1977-2010 to compile the data in Red Paper: Canids and until it was all put
together I never really truly realised what had gone on. How the British fox was on the very brink
(if it didn't actually fall over into the abyss) of extinction. How it might today be just a memory like
the lynx, the wolf, the bear and other British mammals hunted to extinction.
Above: sadly, this one got better after mange treatment but vanished.
Above: from about three years ago? Still have at least one visits.
A quick end note.
And here is a thought while we currently believe the British hedgehog is endangered with
perhaps just a million left across the UK.
Up until the early 20th century there was a bounty paid for each hedgehog killed in most areas
despite the creature being known as the "gardeners friend". In the Scottish Islands where they are
not wanted they are killed. It's cheaper than trapping and transporting to the UK mainland.
You want to put poison down for ants? For slugs? You put out poison for mice and rats but
are not trained in how to do that?
You are killinghedgehogs.
Oh, and please: never EVER put out milk or bread for hedgehogs!!! Hoggie is lactose intolerance and
bread - not good. Leave some fresh water in an old dish -a saucer- and put out a little cat meat.
We all need to help our wildlife.