This code is for information only and does NOT apply whilst the hunting ban is in force. For more details see the MFHA website (in the links section).
The Master of the Foxhounds Association sets guidelines to ensure hunting takes place humanely and effectively to control the fox population.
MFHA Hunts are regulated by strict and detailed rules which hunt officials must obey. The standard of behaviour of followers has long been governed by an informal code. For this reason hunting's conventions, and the responsibilities of its followers are set down in this Code.
The MFHA sets out three 'golden rules' for anyone who hunts:
Foxhunting as a sport is the hunting of the fox in its wild and natural state with a pack of hounds. Nothing must be done which in any way compromises this rule.
Hunting exists entirely because of the goodwill of landholders and farmers. No-one who goes hunting should do anything that might jeopardise this goodwill. It must be remembered that for most of a day's hunting you are a guest on someone else's land.
Masters of Foxhounds, (i.e. those in charge of a hunt), or their appointed deputies, are solely responsible for the conduct of each day's hunting and are bound by the strict rules and instructions of the MFHA. Their authority is absolute and their instructions must always be willingly obeyed.
The Hunt followers also have a responsibility, they should ensure that:
They appreciate that they are guests of those on whose land they walk.
They are punctual at the 'meet', and their turnout is clean, tidy and safe. Punctuality is good manners. Special instructions may be given at the meet about the conduct of the day's hunting -thus it is important that you are there to hear them.
... as well as ensuring that:
They make every effort to avoid causing damage to land, fences or crops. However, if there is damage it must be reported to the Field Master (i.e. the hunt official in charge of the riders) or Secretary.
They do not ride or drive on mown verges, or ride several abreast through villages and along busy roads.
They do not cause obstruction when parking vehicles, horse boxes or trailers at any time.
They do not park on both sides of roads and so interrupt the flow of other traffic. Help should be afforded to passing traffic. Remember, every delayed motorist or lorry driver becomes a potential enemy of hunting.
They do not park or drive on private land without the express permission of the landholder.
In addition, hunt followers' behaviour may affect the management of the hunting day. Mounted followers will be controlled by the Field Master. Stragglers are liable to get on land where they are not welcome and interfere with the process of the hunt. Care must be taken not to impede the progress of the fox. If it should come towards you remain quiet and still until it has passed by. Then you may holloa, or signal to the huntsman with your cap or handkerchief in the air. But appreciate that he and his hounds may be hunting a different fox.
The autumn hunting season is a vital part of controlling the fox population and strict rules apply to ensure that it is only carried out for controlling foxes.
Terrier work is no part of the enjoyment of the sport and
Terrier work is no part of the enjoyment of foxhunting, but it plays an important role in fox control.
Digging may only take place with the expressed permission of the landowner or farmer. MFHA Rules state that when a fox is run to ground there shall be no digging other than for the purpose of humanely destroying the fox.
Terrier work can only be carried out by those licensed by the MFHA. The terrierman will normally be accompanied by one assistant only. Due to the possible use of a humane killer, and to avoid unnecessary noise and disturbance, participation is limited to the terrierman and his assistant with sometimes the presence of the relevant farmer or gamekeeper.
All who follow hunting must be aware of other countryside users. People work at a wide variety of businesses in rural areas, and there are increasing recreational and leisure uses of the countryside. Other people's views must be taken into account and respected. Every effort must be made to avoid giving offence. Common courtesy, particularly in the form of a simple "please" or "thank you", costs nothing.
Every effort must be made to prevent hounds and followers from straying into places where they are not welcome, or onto roads and railways.
The wishes of all landowners, no matter how small, must be respected. Never do anything that would be detrimental to agricultural interests.
The aims of saboteurs are to disrupt hunting and provoke hunt followers. Confrontation with saboteurs should be avoided whenever possible and, in any event, followers must not retaliate whatever the provocation. Frequently saboteurs are breaking the law. You can help by recording details of vehicle registration numbers, making identifications and listing times and places of incidents. Be prepared to make written notes and report incidents to an appropriate hunt official.
Do all you can to help the hunt, be it with farming interests, passing traffic or the enjoyment of the day. Above all always obey the requests of those in charge - the Masters. Strict observance of this Code, politeness, and where appropriate, reasoned argument are what is needed to ensure hunting continues.
Finally there is only one organisation that promotes and defends all Country Sports and that is the Countryside Alliance. Everyone who wishes to continue to go hunting should be duty bound to be a member.
The content of this Code of Conduct has been examined and approved by the Commissioners of the Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting. This code is part of a series prepared on behalf of the following Hunting Associations: The Masters of Foxhounds Association, The Masters of Minkhounds Associations, The Masters of Deerhounds Association, Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles and the Central Committee of Fell Packs.