The Early History of Fox Hunting
Posted October 21, 2008on:
When William the Conqueror arrived in England he brought the Gascon and the Talbot hound to the region and regularly took part in venery. This is where the fox hunting expression “Tally-Ho!” comes from, a translation of the old French word “Taillis-au!”, which signals to the hunting party that the that the game they are searching for has been spotted among the nearby patches of brush.
The first recorded practice of modern fox hunting was in Norfolk, England in 1534. At that time many regions in Britain were over populated with foxes, considered a pest akin to the rat because of their sheer numbers. Frustrated, farmers began to gather with groups of their own hounds and form hunting parties to hunt down and thin out the fox population. These fox hunting posses were formed regularly by rural farmers to help rid each other’s lands of the foxes who posed a danger to their livestock. Farmer’s herds often suffered from foxes that would attack the smaller or weaker livestock for food, sometimes attack large animals spreading disease, and most commonly have a horse or cow break its leg by stepping into the opening of a foxes den.
Eventually the practice became a regular form of land maintenance, and the thrill of the hunt became a part of rural life. When the nobles of Britain noticed this tradition, it wasn’t long before they decided this would be an exciting sport for young men to take part in during their formative years. Eventually the aristocrats would begin holding annual fox hunts in conjunction with other annual social events, and planning new events around a fox hunt. The oldest annual fox hunt event is likely the Bilsdale hunt held in Yorkshire, England. By the late 1600’s fox hunting had become so popular that breeders, wealthy citizens, and entrepreneurial farmers were all breeding and training dogs specifically for the use of fox hunting.
The tradition of the fox hunt carried on, but made a significant change in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. It is important to note that by this time Fox hunting had become so popular among the upper crust of society that it was considered a sign of status and social standing. The wealthy found it easier to partake in fox hunting regularly because they had more leisure time and could afford to own an entire pack of hunting dogs to use whenever they wanted. This contrasted greatly with the farmers who first created the practice, who would have to call together a large number of neighbors in order to arrange a hunt.
Kellie Rainwater is an avid lovers of the Jack Russell Terrier. Through the love of the bred she have written a book on how to train, breed, and show this tenacious dog. http://www.dkrainwater.com is a site that features this book signed and sold by the author along with Jack Russell products, toys, watches and other Jack Russell gear.