What to expect - a guide to a day’s hunting
Arrive at the meet in good time. The Hunt Secretary will advise you on where to park. You should be on your horse and ready to go at 10.45am although in some instances there will be drinks and snacks provided so the start may be a bit delayed.
Their job is to welcome you and to collect any caps that are due. If it is your first time hunting simply tell them and there will be no charge. If you have hunted before it is best to seek them out and introduce yourself. Don’t worry if you can’t – they will introduce themselves to you during the day so have your cap ready.
The Field Master
The Field Master manages the riders on any given day. You should make sure that you know who the Field Master is at the beginning of the day and do as he/she asks. They know the country and the limitations e.g. if there is a newly sown crop or sensitive livestock and it is their responsibility to steer you away from these. They also know the best routes! You should keep behind the Field Master at all times.
The Huntsman carries the hunting horn and it is his job to manage the pack of hounds and to hunt within the law. He is going to be concentrating hard on what he is doing so may appear a bit preoccupied but this is nothing personal! If he needs to pass, you will hear someone say ‘Huntsman on the left/right’ and you should move your horse to let him by. Please make sure you face him and don’t have your horse’s back end pointing at him or his hounds.
The Whipper In
The whipper-ins assists the huntsman in keeping his hounds together and concentrating on the job in hand. They often work at a distance from the huntsman bringing hounds on or calling for them. If they need to get past you will hear ‘Whip on the left / right’ and you should move your horse out of his way with your horse’s head facing him.
This is area which has been agreed with landowners and it is the area over which you have permission to hunt that day. If you leave the day early please ensure you respect any crops or livestock and make sure any gates are shut.
If you want to jump a fence then please do! The only rules are to wait your turn, allow other horses space and, if your horse refuses, to move away and let a few more horses go before having another try. If you break a fence, don’t worry, simply let the Field Master know.
With the CVNNH you will find that some people jump and others don’t. If you are one of the last to go through a gate you should wait until it is shut before moving off. If you are able to jump off to shut a difficult gate you will be extremely popular!
Not everyone stays out until the end of the day. In actual fact, very few do. The best thing is to leave with other more experienced members of the field who will guide you back to your box.
The end of the day
The day usually ends just before it gets dark. The exception is Autumn Hunting when the day begins at dawn and finishes 3 – 4 hours later. It is a hunting tradition to say ‘good morning’ at the beginning of the day and ‘good night’ at the end. So don’t think we’ve gone mad if someone says goodnight to you at 11 o’clock in the morning!