Code of Good Hunting

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A Code of Good Hunting on Behalf of: 

The code is written for everyone who goes hunting, be they Masters, huntsmen, officials of long standing or newcomers to hunting. It should be read regularly. Since February 18th 2005 hunting has been regulated by the Hunting Act 2004. Some parts of this code are super-ceded by that legislation.


For several hundred years hunting has been an integral and important part of the social and rural life in Great Britain. We are all aware of the political threats that now face it. In recent years propaganda by those opposed to hunting has led to misunderstanding and criticism. It is therefore the responsibility of all those who participate to promote our activities and explain and inform others about what we do and why we do it.

Hunting is the natural and most humane method of managing and controlling foxes, hares, deer and mink in the countryside and as independent research shows it is often the method most favoured by farmers. The beneficial part it plays in the conservation of the countryside and in the rural economy is beyond doubt, which is also substantiated by independent research.

Everyone must be prepared to be held accountable for everything that they do throughout each hunting day. We need to be both aware of, and sensitive to, the fact that our activities are liable to be observed and judged by the public. Those who run and manage hunting are fully conscious that if it is to thrive, then the highest standards of best practice need to be understood and maintained by all followers.

The Hunts and Clubs of the Hunting Associations are regulated by strict and detailed rules, which their hunt officials must obey. The standard of behaviour of followers, whether on foot, in a car or on a horse has long been governed by an informal code. However, we must constantly strive to raise and implement standards of best practice. Therefore it is essential that we provide all hunt followers with a formal code, thereby satisfying the objectives of ISAH and improving public confidence in our activities. Follow it and hunting will be available for future generations.


There are three golden rules at the heart of hunting's regulatory code:


All followers of hunting enjoy access to large areas of countryside not always available to others. This and hunting's high visibility make it crucial that followers conform with accepted standards of good behaviour.

This means that:


Hunt followers should ensure that:

In addition, hunt followers' behaviour may affect the management of the hunting day. Mounted followers will be managed and guided by the Field Master - mounted followers should remain in touch with him or her. Further, care must be taken not to impede the progress of the hunted animal. 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 another individual.

Conditions specific to foxhunting

Autumn Hunting (Prior to Opening Meets)

Autumn hunting plays an important role in the management of the fox population. Its purpose is to disperse large concentrations of foxes and to cull a proportion of them, particularly the older and weaker ones. It is also the time when the young hounds are introduced to hunting - they learn by working with the more experienced and older ones.

For farming, fox control and safety reasons hunting may be confined to a limited area through either "lining-out" one or two sides of a wood or covert or "holding-up".

At such times it is also permissible for mounted or foot followers, who must be appointed and instructed by the Master, to discourage a fox from leaving covert.

Holding-up is carried out by the use of the voice and tapping with a stick or a whip. Aggressive holding up or excessive noise is against the rules and will not be tolerated.

Those that go out autumn hunting should not expect to be part of any holding-up that may have to be undertaken.

Terrier Work

Terrier work plays an important role in fox control, especially on livestock farms and where game shooting takes place. It is the only legal method of controlling foxes underground.

If a fox is run to ground, digging may only take place with the expressed permission of the landowner or farmer. It can only be carried out by those licensed by the appropriate governing body. Normally the terrierman will be accompanied by only one assistant. Due to the possible use of a humane killer (licensed firearm) 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.

Conditions specific to deer hunting

Dispatching the Deer

At the end of a hunt the deer will normally stand at bay - frequently this will be in water. It is the job of the hounds to keep the deer at bay until one of the official marksmen arrives and dispatches it humanely at close quarters. Due to the use of a firearm hunt followers must keep at a safe distance away.

Conditions specific to mink hunting

Terrier Work

If a mink is run to ground, the Master in charge must decide what is to be done. Only the hunt's appointed terrierman is allowed to undertake the necessary terrier work. For efficiency and safety reasons followers must not interfere or get involved, unless specifically asked to do so by a hunt official.

Conditions specific to shooting packs

The primary objective of shooting packs is pest control but that is no reason to ignore welfare standards. No shot should be taken unless the shooter believes he can achieve a clean kill.

Therefore it is essential that:


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