I've never known a hunt to go after a fox after it goes to ground. Occasionally the hounds will catch one on the run, but usually it's either diseased or a "dropped" fox that doesn't know where to go (which is very unsporting). Kills are very unusual though. I once saw a fox jump out of the grass in the middle of the pack and still get away.
I only hunted a handful of seasons, but during that time I only heard of the fox getting nabbed once (it was on a day that I wasn't hunting). One of the members got the tail. Members certainly don't look forward to that kind of thing, and don't take it lightly either. For us, it was a big deal just to view the fox, and it would spark discussion for days/weeks until the next good sighting.
I'll never forget one day we got stopped, single file along a wooded trail. The hounds and staff were somewhere in front of us, running around in the woods. Charlie doubled back and stopped on top of the ridge above first flight, and watched us for a good 20-30 seconds (while the hounds were off somewhere else!). He was probably only 40 feet from us, and we didn't stop talking about it for a month. It was one heck of a great run directly after that, too.
From what I learned, the sport in this country is really just about getting out and having a good run, not at all about killing. The ones that do get killed very rare, and are generally old, ill, already injured, etc or just flat out not in their territory. Our staff carried revolvers to ensure it was dispatched quickly if possible (and humanely), amongst other reasons to carry. I think many hunts and members are careful to monitor the fox population in the territory, and ensure they are as healthy as possible. Healthy foxes make for great chasing and happy members, after all.
The MFHA Code of Ethics (which recognized hunts ascribe to) can be found here: http://www.mfha.org/mfha-policies.html Please note that the hunting of dropped or bagged fox is strictly forbidden in the United States.
Hunts go years without a kill - and when a kill happens the fox is usually old or sick. Mange is a problem in foxes. A pack of hounds emulates the role of a larger predator in an ecosystem; keeping the population of foxes wild, fearful of humans, and culling the very old or sick.
Just like other forms of lawful hunting; foxhunting (mounted foxhunting in the English style) is very heavily regulated. Not just by our own internal "government" but by the state and to a lesser extent the feds.
Last edited by JSwan; Oct. 23, 2013 at 06:12 PM.
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
Around here the hunts are primarily hunting coyotes. Two or three a year might get caught but the hunters are just as happy with a good chase where the coyote gets away. I don't remember them getting any coyotes last year. Because the coyotes prey on smaller farm stock (chickens, cats, etc.) and will take a calf, colt or pig if they can, the local landowners are happy to have the population control.
My mom was a sec of a hunt, and in about 25 years of hunting (sometimes 5 days a week) she was on one kill. Usually they are fox with problems, otherwise they have long since gone to ground (and are laughing at the hounds).
The hounds are bred to track smells, they kill only when ramped up from that.
I haven't seen one killed yet. I'd think a pack would have an even harder time catching a coyote! I was at a joint meet of Bridlespur and Shawnee when a coyote hunkered down in a thick growth of reeds growing in a circle not 20 feet wide. Huntsman Eleanor got off of her horse, waded through the reeds and hounds right to the middle with the field looking on. Suddenly the coyote bolted out and the chase was on. He was far faster than the hounds and soon had quite a lead. We learned later that Eleanor got close enough to thump him with her whip handle to get him to break cover.