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Wednesday, 1 September, 1999, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
'A fair and sporting chance'
Rules of the Masters of the Foxhounds Association (extracts)

1a) Foxhunting as a sport is the hunting of the fox in his wild and natural state with a pack of hounds. No pack of hounds, of which the Master or representative is a member of this association, shall be allowed to hunt a fox in any way that is inconsistent with this precept.

Concerning this rule please note that:-

  • When a fox is run to ground it is for the Master to decide what is to be done and he shall have regard to the wishes of the landowner concerned. If the decision is that the fox be killed it must be humanely destroyed.

  • When a hunted fox is run to ground in a natural earth, there shall be no digging other than for the purpose of humanely destroying the fox.

    Fox hunting

  • A fox which has been handled must be humanely destroyed immediately or left, but under no circumstances hunted.

  • The practice of bolting a fresh fox is permitted.

  • The practice of bolting a hunted fox which has taken refuge in any man-made structure such as drains, stick heaps, straw bales and the like, and also in rocks and in places in which digging is impossible, is permitted.

  • The practice of bolting should only be undertaken when hounds have been taken away such a distance that they are out of sight of the place of refuge and are unable to hear any operations thereat. In any event, a fox when bolted must be given a fair and sporting chance of escape before hounds are laid on.

  • You are reminded that digging is allowed only at the request of the landowner, farmer or shooting tenant. This may be verbal and may be received before the Hunting season. The decision on whether to dig remains with the master.

  • It is forbidden for terriermen to bring on a dead fox to be broken up by hounds. All carcases of dead foxes, whether caught by hounds or dug out, must be picked up and disposed of.

    b) Every effort must be made to prevent hounds hunting a fox into a built-up area.

    c) Should a fox enter an inhabited dwelling, or building adjacent thereto, every effort must be made to stop hounds. They must be taken away and the fox not hunted again. At the same time the owner or occupier, or his representative, shall, if possible, be consulted as to how he or she would like the fox dealt with.

    d) Hounds by law are not allowed on a motorway. Therefore they must be stopped when there is any possibility of their getting onto a motorway.

    e) Badgers are currently protected by law and Masters of hounds must be conversant with this legislation.

    15) A master may, with the consent of his committee in writing, lend a portion of his hunt country to an adjoining hunt. This permission may be terminated in writing by either party with at least three months notice before 1 May, provided that no notice to terminate a loan of a country from the hunt which granted it, will be effective until it has received the approval of the committee of the MFHA who will consider each notice on its merits. Any loan of country must be registered with the secretary of the MHFA.

    16) The MFHA will not recognise any new fox hunting establishment organised within the boundaries of an already recognised hunt until those responsible for the proposed new hunt have obtained the consent of the master and the committee of the original established hunt.

    17) The fox hunting year commences on 1 May. 1 February is the last date on which notice should be given or received from hunt servants.

    20) The hunting of a country is the sole responsibility of the master or masters who are responsible for the actions of the hunt servants and the discipline of the field. In the absence of the master whether in the field or otherwise a person must be appointed to act for him who will carry the full authority and responsibility for the time as the master.

    21) Hounds may hunt their fox over the boundary of their country until they account for him or lose him. They may not be held on into fresh foxes. Should a fox be run to ground in a neighbouring country, no attempt should be made to get him out except under mutual arrangements previously made with neighbouring masters.

    22) All recognised packs of foxhounds must have adequate third party insurance.


    23) A pack of foxhounds which belongs to a country should be vested in the name of the trustees by a deed as should any other property, such as coverts.

    26) The retiring master should "put to'' before 1 May a sufficient number of bitches to produce enough whelps in the ordinary course of events to be sent out to walk, from which to make the entry for the succeeding year.

    27) A pack of foxhounds shall not be admitted to the Foxhound Kennel Stud Book, except it be one of those on the list of recognised hunts.

    Recommendations for Running a Country

    6) The hunting country is the responsibility solely of the masters who are responsible for the actions of the hunt servants and the discipline of the field.

    7) Masters when arranging their meets should do so in order that the whole country may be fairly hunted to the best of their ability.

    8) It must be remembered by masters that in these days of intensive farming, repeated incursions into neighbouring countries are likely to cause tension between hunts and farmers.

    9) The cubhunting of a country is the prerogative of the master, although members of the field are generally welcome. 13) No pack of harriers, beagles, staghounds, minkhounds or draghounds shall be kennelled or hunted in a foxhunting country without the consent in writing of the master and the committee of the hunt.

    Such packs having obtained permission should not advertise their meets without first consulting the MFH concerned.

    15) No master should accept "flesh" from outside his own country except under mutual arrangements previously made with neighbouring masters.

    17) It is strongly recommended that hunt committees give serious consideration to arrangements for hunt servant's pensions, particularly at an early stage in their careers. The hunt servants' benefit society can advise how this can be done throughout a hunt servant's career.

    Masters of the Foxhounds Association Rules (addendum 1998)

  • Autumn hunting

    Before hunting proper begins, traditionally on 1 November, many farmers and landowners wish to see the new season's litters of young foxes dispersed and a due proportion of them controlled. This is preferably done in covert to prevent disturbance to stock still out in the fields.

    At such times therefore, it is permissible for those mounted and foot followers who have been appointed by the Master for the purpose to discourage a fox from leaving covert (the process known as "holding up") by traditional means, ie by voice or tapping with a stick or whip. No other means are permissible.

  • It is only permissible for those mounted and foot followers who have been appointed by the Master, for the purpose, and no others, to help in the process of "holding up".

  • "Holding up" is only permitted on the specific instructions of a Master and at the request of a landowner, farmer, or shooting tenant, due to the proximity of roads, railways or built-up areas, or for farming or fox control reasons.


    (See rules listed under 1a)


  • The term "Cubhunting" must not be used. It should be referred to as "Autumn Hunting", or preferably just hunting.

  • It should not normally be necessary to hold-up after 1 October and hunting should thereafter be as mobile as possible.

  • Taking out large numbers of hounds offends the public and does not educate the young entry. Twenty-five couple should be considered the maximum.

  • Wherever possible only one terrier should be used at a time when digging or bolting.

    Note: Seminars for terriermen will be organised on a regional basis and Terriermen will in future years not have their licences renewed unless they have attended. It is also required that one Master from every hunt shall attend.

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