What is Cub hunting?
Cub hunting, as the name suggests, is the practice of hunting fox cubs with young foxhounds. Contrary to what the hunters say, hunting a live animal does not come naturally to a foxhound. As such, the young hounds must be taught how to hunt ready for the main season. This is done by hunting fox cubs over a reduced area, which pushes the fox cubs into the pack, rather than involving a long chase.
Fox cub hunting, also known as cubbing or in hunt circles, Autumn hunting - remains a dirty secret of the hunting world, and despite the ban on hunting wild mammals with dogs the practice remains a very important and widely practiced part of hunting.
Watch this video to see how cub hunting works (no graphic content):
Why do hunts go cub hunting?
- To teach young hounds how to hunt - contrary to what the hunters say, hunting a live animal does not come naturally to a foxhound. As such, the young dogs have to be taught how to hunt ready for the main season. This is done by hunting fox cubs over a smaller area, which results in the fox cubs being pushed into the pack rather than the cubs being pursued in a long chase.
- To disperse foxes – the practice of hunting fox cubs means that the skulk of foxes in a particular area are more likely to be separated and take up residence elsewhere, especially if only some of the family are killed. This provides for better ‘sport’ later in the season.
- To kill foxes – the young hounds cannot be trained without learning about the kill. The killing of fox cubs will also be a key reason why farmers and other landowners give the hunt permission to cross their land, under the misguided notion that foxes need controlling, or that killing them is the best way to control numbers.
What does cubbing look like?
Cub hunting, which normally takes place in August, September and October, looks very different from main season hunting, which begins in November. The hunt staff normally wear tweeds, rather than the traditional red coats. Cub hunting is very static compared to ‘traditional’ fox hunting and usually takes place very early in the morning or late in the evening.
Small woods, (known as ‘coverts’), are surrounded by key hunt followers to ensure that if any foxes try to escape (‘flushed out’) they are scared back in towards the pack of hounds.
The hounds are put in at one side of the wood, and the Huntsman call them through as a means of flushing out any foxes in the area. Prior to the hunt meet it is likely that terrier men attached to the hunt will have blocked up any underground holes, with fox earths or badger setts, to ensure any foxes found do not have a safe place to hide once they are set upon.
Is it illegal?
Cub hunting is an illegal activity, as it involves hunting a wild mammal with a dog and therefore banned under the Hunting Act 2004.
Hunts often claim that they are legally trail hunting, if caught hunting in the early hour during winter. The truth is often a very different picture. Cub hunting is a hidden horror of fox hunting and the League will continue to do what we can to expose it.