Merrie Olde England–the one with guns and fieldsports–may be gone (or going), but a few good souls refuse to let her die. Enter The Connaught Square Squirrel Hunt. You may recall a couple previous stories we shared, wherein British citizens lampooned the Hunting Act of 2004 (which outlawed, among other things, encouraging your dog to chase rodents) by publicly encouraging their dogs to chase rodents.
Elevating this idea to nearly an art form, The Connaught Square Squirrel Hunt holds a “drag hunt” (with a lure) for a single pet terrier named Dylan (or Dillion: “he can’t spell”) , across a public park in London.
Drag-hunting squirrels is a true art and we’re only just beginning to learn its dark secrets. This is where we are so far:
First, you must prepare your “drag”. After various experiments, we discovered that doesn’t need to look or smell anything like a squirrel. It just has to catch the hound’s eye. So we use an old sports sock.
Next, you must find a willing Huntsman to volunteer to run from the hound pulling the “drag”. This is called “laying a line”, so the professionals tell us. It’s a good idea to start slowly to catch the hound”s attention and then accelerate away. Usually, we ask the Huntsman to run in a curve to allow the slower followers to cut the corner!
Then comes the most important part: the release.
It’s a fine balance. Release the hound too early doesn’the drag doesn’t last long enough to be exciting. Release him too late and he may lose the line. This can be quite embarrassing when he’s running through tourists and picnics in Hyde Park followed by dozens of panting followers….
It’s the perfect foil, made an even better farce by The Hunt’s “official” attire and social schedule:
The inaugural ball
7.30 Reception – Complimentary CSSH cocktails.
8.15 Dinner – Three course meal with 6 bottles of wine per table. Music by The Royal Marine Band. Wine by Jeroboam’s.
10.00 Auction – Assisted by “Mystery Hunt Follower”. Lots donated so far include: 2 week safari with a private plane, a Scooter, caps with several generous hunts, polo lessons, shooting lessons.
10.30 Dancing to The Royal Marine Band upstairs and to a world class DJ in the vaults. Cash bar.
There will also be a raffle of fine items and various other amusements
Hunt Colours, White Tie or Banned Quarry
Our hunt colours are midnight blue and shocking pink; please feel free to wear them.
Orders and decorations may be worn.
And so why all this?
It is absurd that the Hunting Act prohibits you from encouraging a dog to chase a squirrel. More than that, it is frightening that your dog could be put down and you could be fined Â£5,000 for saying “Go on Rover, get after it!”.
What is really sinister though, is that if a policeman thought you might want your dog to chase a squirrel in the future, he could raid your home and confiscate evidence.. All this without a warrant from a Magistrate: even a suspected burglar has more rights than a suspected Squirrel-Hunter!
When we realised that the innocent habits of most dog-owners were illegal, it was clear that this should be publicised as much as possible. People should be made aware of the law and how to act within it. And the more people that think the Hunting Act is an ass, the more people will support its repeal.
Hat tip to Roseann for this link!