been an integral and important part of rural life in many parts of the United
States and Canada for centuries. The beneficial role it plays in
conservation, the physical beauty of the countryside and in the local economy
place in public. We must all assume
that our activities will be observed by the public and must be prepared to be
held publicly accountable for our actions.
This Code of Hunting Practice is aimed at
ensuring that not only new-comers to hunting but everyone who participates
understands that it is their absolute obligation to maintain the highest
standards of sportsmanship and good behavior at all times. In the case of Masters, this
responsibility extends to the care of hounds. It is the Masters' obligation to ensure that hounds are
kenneled in safe, clean, adequate kennels and that hounds are well fed,
regularly exercised and properly handled in the hunting field.
membership in the Masters of Foxhounds Association, the Masters and the Hunt's
governing body agree to be bound by its Constitution, By-Laws, Regulation,
Code of Hunting Practices and Guidelines, as amended, and relevant state and
federal laws. Furthermore, the Hunt
and its Masters will cooperate with any investigation of alleged infractions
and will accept as final the decision of the Masters of Foxhounds Association
("MFHA") on any question arising under said Constitution, By-laws,
Regulations, Code of Hunting Practices or Guidelines. The Hunt and Masters agree to indemnify and
hold the MFHA, their officers, directors and employees harmless for any
action taken against the Hunt pursuant to this agreement.
1. Foxhunting as a sport is the hunting of
the fox or coyote in its wild and natural state with a pack of hounds. Nothing must be done which in any way
compromises this rule.
2. The sport of foxhunting as it is
practiced in North America places emphasis on the chase and not the
kill. It is inevitable, however, that
hounds will at times catch their game. Death is instantaneous.
some instances, a pack of hounds will account for their quarry by running it
to ground, treeing it, or bringing it to bay in some fashion. The Masters of Foxhounds Association has
laid down detailed rules to govern the behavior of Masters of Foxhounds and
their packs of hounds. The most
important are as follows:
(a.) The hunting of a "bagged" or
"dropped" fox, or any other practice which does not give the animal
a sporting chance, is contrary to the best traditions of the sport and is
(b.) When a fox is run to ground or treed, or a
coyote is brought to bay, if, in accordance with the wishes of the
landowners, the decision is that it be killed, it must be quickly and
humanely dispatched by a member of the hunt staff. It is the responsibility of the Masters and hunt servants to
avoid the participation of the general public.
(c.) When a fox or coyote is run to ground,
there shall be no digging other than for the purpose of humanely destroying
it according to the wishes of the landowner. It is against the rules of the Masters of
Foxhounds Association to cause a grey fox or bobcat to jump out of a tree as
a result of human effort.
(d.) A fox or coyote, which has
had to be handled, must be either freed or humanely destroyed immediately. Under no circumstances may it be
hunted. When a fox or coyote is run
to ground, treed or brought to bay, this same animal may not be bolted or
knocked out of a tree and run again. However, it is permissible to bolt and hunt fox or coyote that has
taken refuge in a man made structure such as a culvert, hay shed, deserted
house, etcetera. Hounds must be taken
out of sight of the refuge at a reasonable and sporting distance and a
reasonable amount of time allowed to elapse before the pack is put back on
(e.) It is the responsibility of the Masters to
understand and explain unequivocally to their huntsman and staff the
importance of adhering to these rules. Violators will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with
MFHA rules and by-laws.
(f.) The tradition of blooding originated in
ancient times as a historic ritual to honor the hunted animal. It is the position of the MFHA that this
practice not be encouraged, as it is too easily
misunderstood and misinterpreted.
There will be no stopping of earths
under any conditions.
(h.) The MFHA does not consider the use of
Foxhunting Training Preserves to be at all central to the sport of
foxhunting. The MFHA does not endorse or promote the use of Foxhunting
Training Preserves. A Foxhunting
Training Preserve is for training and evaluating hounds. It should never be listed as a fixture,
used as a meet or competition for member Hunts. Wearing of colors or formal hunting attire is forbidden when
using these facilities. Additional
considerations are listed in the MFHA Guidebook.
3. Hunting flourished entirely because of
the goodwill of landowners and farmers. No one who goes hunting should do anything to jeopardize this
goodwill. Be constantly aware that
you are a guest on someone else's land.
4. Masters of Foxhounds or their appointed
agents are solely responsible for conducting the day's hunting and are bound
by the strict rules and instructions of the Masters of Foxhounds
Association. Their authority and
responsibility is absolute and their instructions must always be cheerfully
obeyed. The field should remember
that the staff is accountable only to the Masters and huntsman. At no time should the field instruct or
interfere with the professional or honorary staffs' job in the hunting field,
the kennels or the hunt country.
development and suburbanization of traditional hunting countries
and the automobile traffic this creates, as well as the building of high
speed roads have heightened the need for Masters to be constantly aware of
the safety of their hounds, hunt participants and the general public. The spread of coyotes throughout
traditional fox hunting countries has exacerbated this problem because
coyotes cover more territory and tend to run straight or unpredictably. The use of radios and other modern
electronic equipment has evolved as a result:
1. Radios are used to protect hounds and
promote safety of the public.
2. Radios are not meant to supplant the
traditional use of voice and horn while hunting a pack of hounds.
A radio should never be
used by a hunt staff to take unfair advantage of the hunted game.
4. Usage of radios should not be an obtrusive or noisy disturbance to members of the
mounted field. If used properly, the radio is an effective tool for
communication between staff members when
necessary. Usage should be kept to a minimum.
hunt meets by arrangement and is recognizable and therefore accountable,
mounted followers enjoy access to large areas of countryside denied to other
people. When following hounds
mounted, you must:
1. Conform to local standards of
behavior. These are many and
various. Find out what the local
conventions are and observe them strictly.
2. Ensure that your turnout is neat, clean
3. Do not block roads or access to farm
4. Be punctual at the meet. All Masters should establish policy that
deals with late arrivals and early departures.
5. Make a sincere attempt not to cause
damage. If you break a fence or cause
or notice damage of any kind, report it immediately to the Master or
6. Leave gates the way you find them. If there is any question contact the
landowner or farm manager to find out the correct disposition.
7. Go slowly through or around livestock to
prevent disturbing them. Never cross
a planted field. Go around the
8. In parking your trailer or van, be sure
you have permission to park there and cause no obstructions. Be sensitive to the fact that not everyone
enjoys the presence of horses nor the evidence they leave
9. Above all, obey the Field Master.
are welcome but they must also obey the rules.
1. Do not interrupt the flow of
traffic. Courtesy must be shown to
2. Do not obstruct gateways or drives.
3. Do not drive vehicles into private
drives, farmland or open country unless you are sure that proper permission
has been obtained.
4. Keep together as much as possible and try
to avoid heading the quarry or getting between hounds and their game.
5. If hounds or horses are nearby, stop in a
safe, legal place and switch off your engine. Exhaust fumes mask scent and irritate hounds' noses.
6. Please do all you can to help the
hunt. When you leave your vehicle, follow
the code for foot followers.
can be very helpful to the hunt both during a day's hunting and at other
times. Please remember:
1. If you leave the road, you become a guest
on someone's land and should behave accordingly.
2. Do not get into such a position as to
head the quarry; to do so is to spoil your own and everyone else's sport.
3. Be as quiet as possible.
4. If you see the fox or coyote, let it get
well past you before signaling the huntsman with a holloa, holding up your
cap or a white handkerchief.
5. Leave gates the way you found them. Be ready to open or close gates for the
hunt staff. Report any damage you see
to the Master or Secretary.
trespass cannot always be avoided but the wishes for all landowners, no
matter how small, must be respected. Every effort must be made to prevent
hounds and followers from hunting a fox into a "built-up" area or
straying onto places where they are not welcome.
Animal rights activists
can be extremely irritating and may even break the law. Hunt followers must resist the temptation to retaliate in kind no
matter what the provocation.
3. Many people use the countryside, some of
which have no interest in hunting. We must make every effort not to offend
these people in any way. Common
courtesy, in the form of a simple 'please', 'thank you,' or 'smile' costs
nothing. Politeness and a pleasant
manner will go far to ensure the future of foxhunting.