Imagine you run an organisation. Your main activity was made illegal almost two decades ago. Your target audience is getting smaller, your customers are leaving, and you’re not attracting replacements. The resources needed to carry out your work are under threat as the people whose goodwill you depend on jump ship, changing with the times. Local people, along with the wider public, are up in arms because you keep getting away with crime. You haven’t bothered to plan any changes, you haven’t even considered changing. This is what you have always done, and you will keep on doing it come hell or high water.
What a shit way to operate. It’s commercial suicide. But this is exactly how the UK’s fox hunts are administered, even though they’ve already had almost twenty years to ring the changes required by UK Statute Law.
Fox hunts are not thriving, growing, popular organisations that support local economies, attract holidaymakers and make us proud. Thanks to their toxic business model and lack of acumen hunts and their members are widely seen as common criminals: hated, despised, and often feared. Hunt-friendly businesses are coming under fire as well, avoided at all costs by savvy consumers and B2B customers.
The outlook for fox hunts isn’t good. Bearing in mind they seem incapable of doing it themselves, we’ve come up with a Blueprint to help the nation’s 200 or so fox hunts stop the slaughter and pivot to genuine trail hunting. We hope the UK’s criminal hunting fraternity finds it useful, simply because it makes more financial, business, social, environmental and common sense to abide by the law than constantly break it.
How to end fox hunting – A Blueprint for Hunts
Why would you bother to stop hunting and killing foxes? As it turns out, there are some excellent commercial reasons. We’ll explore them first.
The business advantages of running a trail hunt
- Your target audience is broader – You appeal to many more riders, supporters, followers, fundraisers and volunteers
- You make a lot more money because you’re growing the organisation
- Landowners welcome you on their land instead of banning you
- Your community respects you
- You no longer risk acquiring a criminal record
- The visitors and holidaymakers you attract help support a healthy local economy
- Everything you do represents a positive PR opportunity
- You can operate openly and freely because you’re a legal organisation, no longer classified as an organised criminal gang
- As you grow, you employ more people
- You keep the nation’s wildlife safe and help it thrive
How to end fox hunting – Your trail hunting goals
Every good business needs goals. Here are two key goals for the UK’s fox hunts:
- Build a respected trail hunting brand
- Grow the business to make more money
14 simple steps to a positive future for trail hunts
So how does a fox hunt achieve these goals? It’s about change, and luckily none of the changes pose much of a challenge. They’re just good business sense. Here’s a simple route to trail hunting. While the devil is in the detail, this should be enough insight to inspire action and get hunts started:
- Change your name to include the words ‘Trail Hunt’
- Build a new website to promote your new focus
- Write a formal Mission Statement to show your intentions and use in promotional activity
- Set up transparent new social media accounts, open to the public
- Appeal to new members by spreading the good news about the things you’re doing
- Make a clear, strong announcement to online and traditional media
- Welcome independent monitors to observe your progress
- Collaborate with the Hunt Saboteurs Association
- Begin to treat your hounds properly – Give them the veterinary treatment they need, feed them good quality food, keep them comfortable, teach them using proven Positive Reinforcement, and train or retrain them to follow a non-animal scent instead of fox scent
- Accept help from local athletes who’d like to lay exciting cross-country trails for you
- Get the local town, district and county councils on-side
- Educate those in your world who can’t see the writing on the wall
- Arrange competitions, fun days, and trail hunt trial days for potential new members and tourists
- Adopt a wildlife charity to support
More ways to succeed
As your trail hunting organisation grows and more people join in, there are other actions you can take to keep up the momentum:
- Break away from the old-school hunting bosses like the Countryside Alliance and BHSA – you need to start fresh
- Set up a relevant, effective governing body covering every trail hunt in the UK
- Redesign your relationship with The Pony Club, which needs to be on board
- Become a ‘Thought Leader’ in your world, an influential educator leading the way
Now you know the bare-bones basics around how to end fox hunting and go legal. It doesn’t seem hard. We would love to know what UK fox hunts think of the idea, and we’d also like to pose the question: if not, why not?