We have been discussing with close Sab friends and Sab organisations about the ins and outs of the distressing truth of hunting season.
We wanted to get to grips of the truth behind the sabs, what they go through, mentally and physically.
Fox hunting, although illegal, is VERY much still happening in the UK today. Fox hunting was banned by the Hunting Act 2004 in England and Wales, and the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 in Scotland.
(Disclaimer: I mean no disrespect to Hunt Sabs or anyone of the matter. My only purpose of this blog is to bring more attention to Fox Hunting. All information has come from people who are personally involved and sources listed below.)
We have kept the sabs who decided to speak out to us confidential to protect their personal life and respect their privacy.
When does fox hunting start and finish?
Fox hunting season starts with Cub hunting in late summer (August) which hunters call 'Autumn Hunting'. The name 'Autumn Hunting' is sugar coated to take away the brutal sound in which baby foxes are being torn apart, but of course, that is exactly what is happening.
Autumn Hunting is the first initial part which trains their hounds to the taste of fox blood.
Following this, the main seasons begins.
The main season of fox hunting starts late September/early October and runs until mid-March time the following year. The hunts go on 2 or 3 times a week throughout the season but fortunately, aren't always successful.
How do Hunt Sabs prepare for a hunt?
It starts with the Sabs receiving information about where the hunt is from locals and the Hunt Saboteur tip off number.
The Sabs then go out in small groups in a Land Rover or something similar. They have a navigator who will monitor the hunt from the vehicle and drop off/pick up their foot sab team when necessary. Whilst the navigator monitors, the foot sab team will follow the hunt (specifically the huntsman and hounds) across the fields and paths.
The foot Sabs and driver/navigator will keep in contact using radios and mobile phones at all times and other groups will have radio contact so everyone can be as tactical as possible.
Which means, if one group have been following across country for a while and are losing the hunt, they can radio ahead to another group.
They can then pin point the location and direction of the hunt and the next Sab group can pick up the trail of the hunt and continue.
How the actual sabotage happens...
Hunt Sabs have many tactics in order to control the hunt.
Sabs use tactics such as voice calls, hunting horns, gizmo (recorded hound calls) and whips to call the hounds off any fox (or other animal) scents. The hounds can be called towards the centre of a field to safety to allow animals to escape.
If a fox is seen and at risk of being chased by hounds, Sabs will follow their trail and spray citronella (strong smelling essential
oil diluted in water) to cover their scent.
Sabs will always put themselves between the hunt/hounds and the hunted animals all whilst being very careful they don't 'flush' animals into the path of the hounds.
If the hounds are heard or seen to 'go into cry' (loud, excited and high pitch noises) that means they are onto a scent or have seen a fox. If the Sabs have a clear view and can get between the hounds and the fox, they will do so.
Chased foxes will often 'go to ground' which would be to hide in a fox den or badger setts.
The hunt will try to dig them out using Terriers. Sabs will sit on setts and protect them from the 'terrier boys' who can get extremely violent and aggressive towards Sabs for doing so.
What happens after season? What happens with the hounds?
In regards to the hounds, some hounds are deemed unfit to continue to hunt, ill or unwell. Which leaves their fate inevitable. Any hounds that fit in this category are shot in the head as they are "unsuitable" to be rehomed because "they are not house-trained and have only ever been used to living in a pack environment".
Hunters find this to be "humane euthanasia" as the dogs could potentially be in pain. However, every animal deserves a chance. If the dogs weren't brought up the way they were, they wouldn't be the way they are. I and many others feels like this is a pathetic excuse and is 100% the HUNTERS fault.
Many sabs try to rescue the dogs after they are 'no longer any good' to the hunters, where they will end their life with love, patience and understanding. Unless their remaining road is painful, uncomfortable and saddening, they give these dogs a fighting chance of survival. They deserve that at the very least!
The emotional side of being a Hunt Sab...
Speaking with a couple of Hunt Sabs, we have heard the story of theirs and their co-Sabs and how they deal with mental issues caused by being a Sab.
A friend of the Hunt Sabs I spoke to had to remove themselves from the hunts due to anxiety. They would have regular anxiety episodes during seasons and came to the ultimate decision to call it quits.
Our Hunt Sab source said: "I'm lucky in that I don't have issues with anxiety but I do find Sabbing emotionally (and physically) draining.
Witnessing the horrific animal abuse involved can take it's toll especially of course witnessing an actual kill by hounds. The memories and feelings of grief after burying a beautiful fox that the (place name not to be shown) Hunt killed in front of us on Boxing Day last year will never go away"
Hunters relentlessly beat Sabs up. Sabs have died, beaten to an inch of their life, sexually harassed plus much more. We have also heard that thugs are hired to attack sabs on behalf of the hunters. Although the sabs are only sabbing, they will never hurt or attack the hunters or the animals, of course.
Most sabs have learnt to switch off their emotion in order to focus on what matters. But this doesn't mean seeing foxes attacked and hunted on a daily basis doesn't hurt. Sabs are strong when needed to be, but heading home, they have time to think and soak up the painful truth. This can be an extremely toxic situation to be in regularly.
We have so much love and respect for the people who sab. Putting their lives at risk for the sake of an innocent, voiceless and defenceless animal. These people are true heroes and we need to continue supporting them in order to shut down Fox Hunting! Please support your local hunt sabs, they need our support!