Hunting and man's relationship with his hunting dogs have ensured our survival to this very present day.
Hunting is man's right, for some a reason to exist and is a natural law in maintaining nature's balance.
The dogs which have been sculpted from different terrain, different quarry, working scent or sight or "sense" as the case for our "earth-dogs"; but all hunting breeds share one common factor, the desire to work and the desire to kill.
When we look at art forms such as Ju Jitsu, a picture is formed of various disciplined schools, each being formed centuries ago in feudal Japan. Due to this, the world respects martial arts as an art form is steeped in history and heritage.
Hunting with dogs is an art which predates ALL martial arts. Hunting breeds from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales are utilised all over the world. Hunting fraternities from foreign countries regularly ship our best dogs from our rich hunting islands in order to improve their own bloodlines or because their similar breeds just do not have the same fire to hunt, or in fact their own breeds just "do not exist"!
Our lurchers from Ireland carrying Wheaten bloodlines for fox, our infamous Norfolk lurcher for the hard hitting work over rough ground that requires brains, our Scottish deerhound greyhound crosses renowned as coursing legends and our Welsh black and tan terriers or Welsh hounds used for the thickest of cover, are all highly specialiased breeds. These "new world" types from many foreign countries sometimes completely inferior to our own.
Each of our breeds or types developed through the art of hunting with dogs, created through centuries of hunting from our fore-fathers before us. These are closely guarded bloodlines, highly protected from inferior genetics and in-breeding which we see from the modern day pet breeder. The nemesis and destroyer of all the hard work and breeding our hunting families have completed throughout the ages.
When we look at our hunting as an art form we have so many different disciplines just as Japanese arts and traditional sporting forms, such as Karate, Ju-Jitsu, Boxing and now new composite sports such as MMA,
Each town and village has a fraternity of hunters, each hunting home could be considered a school where hunting may have been handed down from generation to generation. We school our next generation of children, but we also school our next generation of dogs.
As a child when we are first introduced to hunting, for example ferreting; and we start at the beginning. We learn a mixture of traditional and modern animal husbandry, as children scolded for forgetting to feed the ferrets or clean the hutch, with our older generation giving us the the time to develop in the field, honing our skills and helping us learn to read the countryside.
We school ourselves, sometimes without a mentor present, skills such as... which holes are rabbit, fox, badger..... and in perfecting our art we rich a new level of personal development and evolve our hunting into a new art form; for example, from ferreting to lamping to digging to hound work.
We have specific tools and maintain our equipment to a high standard. Our spades are never left to rust. Our leads are hung up to dry and our nets are cleared of debris and folded a specific way so they are ready to be used the next day in the field.
We make the perfect slip lead, have our own special gear for the field, Some jumpers to camouflage, others to protect from thorns, fabric for silence when hunting on the lamp and we find ourselves becoming absolute perfectionists, detesting things incapable of standing the rigours of our hunts.
With each discipline we select the best dog, or the dog which we deem to be the best. Each hunting household known to work a type of dog or type of dogs a certain way and rarely do we find a house working all ways but instead we band together to bring each type of hunting as a team. Some of us chose to work hounds, our friends lurchers and others terriers. We may work each but we work together. Because this is the way of the hunt.
Even though our breeds are world renowned, our hunting has never been threatened to such a high extent until these recent years. It has became so bad that not even the strong Staffordshire Bull terrier can be used for hunting due to fear of dogs being confiscated in that we we may be perceived as baiting badgers. We cannot publicly post our photos to each other for fear of our dogs being taken from us.
Our very way of life, our existence, is now dictated to us by those who have became so civilised they no longer contain the very biology, at a cellular level, which is "HOW" to hunt. Just as some breeds no longer have the skill set, either genetically, physiologically or just not having the necessary fire, which is neither a physical thing or a genetic thing but down to the spirit of the bloodline over time.
Our people must understand that our dogs DO get hurt. They DO get bit. They do die in the field because this is the way of the hunt. It has always been the way. Without the potential for harm to both our dogs and ourselves it would not be called hunting. Hunting is the embodiment of man and his dog and each are built to withstand pain, recover from pain but more importantly......
And killing is what separates us from those who aim to eradicate our art, our way of life. The way of the hunt.
They have lost the way and therefore feel alien to it.
To conclude, our hunting families are deeply protective of their working dogs and do intend to hand the skills of the countryside down to the next generation so this way of life is never lost. Just as we intend to also hand down the bloodlines of our hunting breeds which we have tried to improve in the short space of one lifetime, so they too are never lost to time.
Hunting is our art. A way of life rich in tradition, steeped in heritage; and for this reason deserves protection from the EU courts, from the government ballot box but also the fire of our working breeds if lost, can never be re-built and they too deserve protection.
Our heritage is the "Art of Hunting with Dogs", we are hunters and so are our dogs. This is our way of life.
This is the Way of The Hunt.