A lot can be done to sabotage a fox hunt before it starts to hunt, by ensuring that there are unlikely to be foxes in the area, by covering the scent of those foxes that remain, and even by leaving false trails. Pre-meet tactics require that you know where the hunt are going to meet, as they all take quite some time. Often it is a good idea to arrive at the area to be hunted early to familiarise yourself with the land around the meet, with special reference to roads and footpaths. Check the wind direction and try to ascertain the scenting conditions.
If you know from experience which coverts the hunt is likely to draw
beating a covert can have the effect of clearing it of foxes. Beating
should be done no earlier than bout half an hour before the hunt are
likely to draw a covert, as foxes will return fairly quickly. To carry
out beating form a line at the up wind end of the covert and walk through
the wood using whistles horns and hunting calls in an imitation of the
hunt. The line should beat right to the end of the covert. as foxes are
often loath to leave. Care should be taken to keep the beating line straight.
The area to he shunted should he beaten systematically in this fashion
covert after covert away from the meet. If only a small number of sabs
are available rook scarers could be used to flush the wood . If timed
to go off up until the time of the hunt they will ensure that flushed
animals will not return. You must make sure that the rookies are set
well above head height in ever green trees (to avoid fire risk) and away
from footpaths and bridleways. It must be stressed that pre-beating call
be very difficult due to communication problems in the dark and over
rough terrain. Also there is the danger that foxes driven from a covert
will wait in hedgerows and field boarders where they will actually be
easier for the hunt to put up.
Coverts can be sprayed with a scent duller before the hunt arrive to confuse hounds. Spraying should be conducted at hound head height with particular emphasis on gateways and bridleways. This will negate any scent in the area though any foxes may well remain. In woods too large to spray completely or when just a few sabs are available it may well be worth spraying a section or two particularly at the down wind end so that hounds that do pick up a scent elsewhere in the covert will be likely to lose it as the fox is forced out of the wood and through the sprayed area.
Remember that roads and dry ground will not hold the
scent, and if it looks like raining, only lay the trails inside coverts.
as they are likely to be washed away in the open. Obviously false
trails are going to be less effective in poor scenting conditions.
Trails will be most effective when laid shortly before the hunt arrives.
The longer the trails, the more time will be consumed by the hunt
on a false run, but a trail that can take thirty minutes to lay might
be covered by hounds in just a few minutes, so 'jink' when you can.
and lay circular trails wherever possible.
During the hunt you may be able to encourage hounds onto your trails with voice and horn calls. If you don't know the meet in advance, you could try laying some last minute trails when you have found the hunt, though usually there is not enough time for this.
Other Pre-Meet Tactics
Whilst carrying out any of the above tactics, keep an eye open for blocked earths. If they are in soft soil don't unblock the earth, as this could create an opportunity for a dig out. If you unblock such an earth and a fox goes to ground, the terriermen are more likely to block any exits and dig out the fox. If the soil is very hard, frozen, particularly full of roots or stones, or the earth is a large warren, it can usually be safely unblocked, thereby affording a hunted fox another refuge, with little chance of it being dug out.
Gates can be secured with wire, or even padlocks and chains. This will delay the hunt and perhaps even force them to hunt in less favourable country. Finally, if hunting conditions have been bad for a day or two before a meet, it is sometimes worth ringing any local newspapers that advertise the hunt, and tell them that the hunt has been cancelled. This can have the effect of losing the hunt some supporters and create confusion.