Since the introduction of the Hunting Act, The Tedworth hunts by laying a trail. The object of trail hunting is to simulate, as realistically as possible, traditional hunting as practised before the ban.
A trail is laid using a fox-based scent, usually fox urine. This is important because the purpose is to keep hounds focused on the scent of their historical quarry. The trail is laid across the countryside taking a route that simulates a fox, through woods, along hedgerows, coverts, ditches and open land. It is laid by dragging a scent soaked sock, cloth or sack along the ground. This can be done from a horse, a quad-bike or on foot, or by a combination of all three methods. The trail is not laid continuously but occasionally lifted for some distance then dropped again to allow the hounds to be cast from time to time as they would have been when hunting a live quarry. The less the Huntsman knows of the route of the trail, the more realistic and challenging it becomes, replicating a real foxhunt.
The only difference between trail hunting and foxhunting is that the Huntsman now sets off to encourage his hounds to find and hunt the trails. The Huntsman will continue to encourage and control the hounds using his horn and voice in exactly the same manner as he did before the ban.
Depending on scenting conditions hounds may need help and encouragement from the Huntsman and perhaps the Whipper-in if the pack gets strung out and needs to be brought back together. During the day hounds will come across both fresh and stale scents left by the fox and other wild mammals and it is at this time that the huntsman needs to be in control of his pack. Hounds will ‘speak’ while hunting a trail, exactly as they would have done while hunting a fox.
For more information about trail hunting please see the Countryside Alliance’s guide to trail hunting which can be found here.