To contact us & for details of subscriptions etc please go to Contacts.
Beagling is about watching hounds follow a scent trail, in the countryside, in the company of friends. It is an immense privilege to see beautiful parts of our countryside that are not available to the public. Our followers range from 5 to 93 years young - beagling can be enjoyed regardless of age, size or capability. You can walk, run, or stand and gossip, and still enjoy it. Apart from watching hounds, beagling is also a wonderful incentive to get out and exercise in the fresh air, even on wet or grey or cold winter's days!
The Beagling Day
We take our hounds out hunting from autumn through winter to early spring, on about 50 days in each season. On a hunting day, we meet a little after noon, often at a pub, or a farm, or a private house. About 12 ½ couple (25) hounds are unloaded from the van, and we spend the afternoon following the hounds as they are guided and assisted by the huntsman. We often end up with tea & cake in our host's kitchen.
The day is arranged by the Master, who checks that we are welcome & have permission to hunt from all the landowners and farmers. Note that the advertised time of the meet is the time we move off - if you want to enjoy any hospitality you need to arrive rather earlier!
On a hunting day, you will see the Huntsman, Master & whippers-in wearing uniform - jackets, cap and stockings in beagling green, white breeches, and stout footwear. Followers generally wear warm tough country clothing, suitable for crossing fields and ditches, walking through mud and clambering through hedges. Modern track-suits and running gear is simply not up to weight and can rapidly get reduced to ribbons!
All the followers, or "Field", are asked to remember these points:
- we are on private land so respect people's property and privacy.
- leave gates shut or open, as found.
- be polite and friendly to everyone we meet.
- to avoid distracting the hounds or spoiling the scent, stay a hundred yards behind the huntsman and keep the noise down.
- you are welcome to bring your dog out with you, but only if it is thoroughly under control - and quiet - at all times.
Join Us - become a Member
You are invited to support us - financially and in other ways - by becoming a member. Like any other club or association, the Stour Valley Beagles costs money to run. We have the use of purpose built kennels, owned by Trustees, in the Ipswich area, which includes a house for our huntsman and his family and we employ the huntsman full time. Then there are the costs of feeding and caring for hounds, and travelling to and from meets and shows.
The SVB is controlled by its subscriber members. It is now a company limited by guarantee, with member's liability limited to £1. Subscribers are entitled to receive all information and news, and have the right to voteat all general meetings. They elect annually the honorary officers - Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary - and members of the committee to manage its affairs and who in turn appoint the Masters and the Huntsman.
Become a subscriber and get the benefits for:
Single annual subscription £200.00
Joint annual subscription £350.00
Family Annual Subscription £360.00
Subscribers can attend as many meets as they like and follow hounds for a nominal £10.00 "field money" per time. (£80 for a book of 10 tickets).
Hunt supporters become Associate Members for an annual subscription of £50.00. They receive information about meets and are invited to attend other events during the year. Associate Members pay £15 each time they come out in the field.
We encourage new visitors to come out free of all charges for one meet each season, but more frequent attenders are asked to pay a cap of £20.
Those under 18 can support us by becoming an Junior Associate which is free and includes a free hound sponsorship. Juniors do not pay cap / field money.
All prices relate to the 2019-20 season which, in common with all hunts runs from 1st May to 30th April.
A hare is always feminine, like a ship, and counted in 'brace', i.e. twos, so half a brace is one. Traditionally hares are often called 'puss', perhaps from a medieval term for a young woman, or perhaps from 'pus', the archaic German word for hare. Hares have 'masks' not faces.
Hounds are counted in couples, a typical pack size for a day's hunting being around twelve couple but ranging from eight to as many as seventeen couple. The huntsman will often include one extra hound, which used to be known as "the half couple that will catch the hare"! Hounds have 'sterns' not tails.
When hounds bark as they find a hare or the scent of one they are said to be'speaking' or 'giving tongue' and the noise they make is 'music'. When in hot pursuit they can also be 'in full cry'.
All on ......................The pack is complete without any hounds missing.
Brace ...................... Two hares
Cap ..........................The money paid by associate members and visitors for a days hunting.
Cast ..........................To search for a hare when hounds have lost the scent by the huntsman leading them in quartering the area where they checked.
Check...................... Hounds stop when they have lost the scent.
Conformation...........The physical characteristics of a hound.
Covert......................A wood, copse, thicket or by extension maize, where it is planted as shelter for game birds.
Draw.......................To search for a hare by the huntsman and his hounds criss-crossing a field.
Entered....................A young hound that joins the pack for hunting.
Entry........................The young hounds that join the hunting pack, usually associated with a particular year.
Field....................... People who follow the hunt across country.
Field money............The money paid by a suscriber for a day's hunting.
Form.......................The shallow depression in the ground that a hare makes as a resting place, allowing her to lie concealed until at very close quarters.
Giving tongue......... Hounds barking as they find and follow the line.
Leveret....................A young hare.
Line.........................The course of the scent.
Scent.......................The smell left behind by a hare (or other quarry) as it moves over the ground.
Speaking................. Hounds barking as they find and follow the line.
Stern.......................The tail of a hound
Walking puppies.....Having puppies to live with you at home before they are entered.
Whipper-in.............A person carrying a whip appointed by the Master to help the huntsman control the movement of hounds.
Hares are an agricultural pest, eating crops such as oil seed rape, turnips, grasses & cereals. It has been calculated that four hares can eat as much as one sheep, and in East Anglia, beaglers often see a dozen or more hares in an afternoon
However, beagling was never about culling as many hares as possible. At least nine out of ten hares hunted outwitted the hounds! It was the less able hares that were caught, leaving the strongest and fittest to survive.
The hare is now an official Biodiversity Action Plan Species, which the Stour Valley supports in principle. It is naturally in our interest that the hare continues to thrive but not in unacceptably large and concentrated numbers.
In 2000 the Government asked Lord Burns to report on the impact of a ban on hunting with dogs. His report stated that hare numbers tend to be at high levels in areas where hunting occurs. The impact of a ban on hunting with dogs might be that the population would decline in those areas. Hunting itself is an important part of conservation of the species.
Burns says that 100 registered packs of hare hounds used to kill about 1,650 hares out of a total estimated population of between 630,000 and 750,000. Many more hares are known to be killed by the illegal activity of trespassers using lurchers or greyhounds for coursing on private land. In addition some 200,000 hares are shot each year.
The Hunting Act of 2004 bans hunting wild mammals with dogs. Since then, the hunt has managed to continue using various methods, including hound exercise, laying artificial (aniseed) trails, and working under exemptions to the Act nos. 3, 4 & 5.
We consider that the Act is unnecessarily restrictive and does nothing to reduce cruelty. We support its repeal.