A HUNT in Yorkshire saw about 2,500 supporters turn out in one of the biggest shows of support for hunting in the decade since the ban came in.
Across England and Wales the Countryside Alliance estimated as many as 250,000 supporters turned out on foot and horseback at 300 meets.
The alliance would be hard pressed to find a bigger crowd than at Beverley Westwood, where 70 riders from the Holderness Hunt mingled with a crowd some 2,500-strong. Hundreds more attended meets held by the Badsworth and Bramham Moor Hounds at Wentbridge and Aberford.
The hunt at Beverley, which was founded over 300 years ago and which has met on the Westwood for more than a century, set out in the drizzle to cover 30 or 40 miles of trails laid by quad bikes.
It was a memorable day for amateur whip Phil Ellerington, celebrating his half-a-century hunting from his debut aged 11 and looking forward to picking up grandson Hugh, aged five, on his pony from Knights Garth Farm in Bishop Burton to continue family tradition.
Mr Ellerington said: “The ban has made things more difficult. We’re at the sharp end, with the hounds. Anything can happen and if a fox does jump up, then it is our job to try and stop them. Common sense dictates it’s very difficult.”
But he said coming out with the hounds twice a week was an “absolute privilege”.
“I’m passionate about being able to do this.
“It’s tradition, something I have done since I was a small boy. Any disposable income goes into this – we work hard and don’t take holidays.”
Joint huntmaster Tim Rose said: “It’s fantastic to see the support still strong and it seems to be getting stronger.”
The Yorkshire Post revealed yesterday that the Countryside Alliance is looking to exploit proposed English-only votes in the Commons in a fresh attempt to repeal the ban.
It dismissed Ukip’s policy for a county-by-county referendum as “possibly the most idiotic policy that it is capable of imagining”.