On our way out this weekend, we stumbled upon the start of a fox hunt in the village.
Now, before anti hunting advocates begin to rant, this post is more about observations than actually condoning hunting in general. I personally understand the pros and cons of both sides of the argument therefore take a very neutral stance on the debate!
Having spent the last 16 years in the USA, when we first moved over there, we immediately became aware of the hunting culture. Initially, I found it very difficult. Being an animal lover, I couldn’t fathom why folks would want to kill and animal. After listening to many debates about the sport, I began to live with it but have no desire to participate.
Ironically, 9 years ago, I took a job with one of the USA’s largest Hunting and Outdoor lifestyle brands. A company that encourages and supports the hunting pastime. Thankfully, I never worked in the hunting department but I was certainly surrounded by the sport and everything to go with it.
Living in the Northeast of the USA, the hunting we have been exposed to is deer, turkey, moose and duck…and not forgetting fishing. Friends and neighbors will frequently fish, shoot turkey and deer and they’ve shared some meat over the firepit. The kids have been exposed to the concept of hunting. They understand why its done together with the concept of a sport and have eaten fresh meat with us.
With all this said, we saw the hunt forming in the grounds off a large house in the village. Hunting in the UK is a different gig altogether. Horses, hounds and no guns were the biggest point of difference to impress on the kids. They watched in wonder as the village gentry congregated in their finery. The dogs in a pack and a horse even corralling the dogs prior to the horn sounding. As the horn sounded, the horses galloped off into the fields to begin their hunt. What a sight. And how different to the sight of US hunters, Maine in particular…..camo gear, sitting in a tree stand and sometimes earning the status of red-neck (although, i do know a varied group of folks that hunt in the USA, some are not red-necks :-))
I don’t see it as my place to enforce a point of view onto them at this stage. As they grow, they can, and now doubt will, forge their own opinions and paths of acceptance or not. Funnily enough, one of my younger girls became a staunch vegetarian for a couple of years…yet, she was the one that was fascinated with seeing anything that may have been caught and not afraid to get her hands dirty. Even handling a sheep’s heart at the Boston Science Museum one day! Life is truly about learning and experience.
This year in the UK is about experience and exposing the kids to as much British culture as possible. The hunt became an unplanned lesson in exactly that – culture and how different it can be from the USA. A lesson that will stay with them for a very long time….