Sheffield, Doncaster & West Yorkshire Sabs – End of Season Report 2012

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This Summer was a busy one, packed with lots of recruiting & briefing new sabs, fitness & self-defence training, organising benefit gigs, doing stalls & vegan food sales at other gigs, and doing a film showing fundraiser for the sabs of the sea – Sea Shepherd – and it shows, in the size and skill of our groups!

We started sabbing the fox cub hunting season with friends from elsewhere, as it began on Aug 27th, with a 6am meet of the Badsworth & Bramham Moor hunt. Here we witnessed very blatant determined hunting with the hounds getting on to the scent of two foxes but them both managing to escape – with a little help. The police, unwilling to stop the hunt or stay out of the way showed their true colours by illegally arresting one sab.

We went to the Grove & Rufford hunt that Monday with Nottingham & Coventry Sabs. Here almost every sab received between two and twelve wasp stings as we ran past a wasps nest! The hunt were kept moving throughout the day and caused to change their plans several times so they couldn’t focus on hunting.

Lots of sabs arrived again at the Badsworth & Bramham Moor hunt on Sept 3rd to find a fox cub darting back and forth in the road ahead of the hunt. We stood between the hunt and the fox and they left it be, but would not have done if we hadn’t been there. We then stayed with them and put them off from hunting some areas by getting ahead of them and making a racket. Later on a freshly used artificial earth (used to contain foxes for release at a hunt or for easy digging out) was found, leading us to believe that the confused fox in the road was previously trapped, bagged and then released from this earth – all part of a day’s trail hunting! Needless to say, the earth is no longer in working order.

On Sept 10th we found the Sheffield Sabs van was missing and later discovered burnt out 30 miles away – pretty suspicious, especially as the Croydon Sabs had their vehicle burnt out a month before. Even without the van, some of the group went on to join West Yorkshire Sabs at the Badsworth & Bramham Mooor hunt where two foxes were whisked away from the hunt.

Next we joined other groups, some from as far as Lancaster, for a trip North to visit to the York & Ainsty North hunt. These blatantly hunted two foxes at the start of the day but both got away. Extremely corrupt policing followed and one sab was illegally arrested, only to have all allegations dropped two months later.

Back to the Badsworth & Bramham Moor on Sept 24th. Feeling the heat of being regularly sabbed they called in help from some supporters of the Rockwood hunt who started a fight with the sabs; sabs fought back and the hunt achieved nothing, another group of sabs then arrived and the hunt was sabbed for the rest of the day. Unable to sort out the sabs themselves they called in the cops to do their dirty work culminating in the arrest of one sab and a cop punching him in the face whilst handcuffed!

Sheffield Sabs bought a seventeen seater van at the end of Sept – thanks to many supporters who made donations and organised fundraising events, and thanks to the HSA, XminY and other sab groups for their generosity. The new van is faster, bigger & better than the last one so we’ll be able to achieve a lot more now – Result!

Sheffield & Doncaster Sabs sabbed an afternoon meet of the York & Ainsty South hunt at Escrick Park next. It was the new van’s first outing – with seventeen sabs out from South Yorkshire to fill it! We had sabs either side of the hunt all day, both calling the hounds out of woodland, and waiting ahead in case any foxes popped out. The hounds disturbed one fox from a wood and were then called the other way, using a fake trail and hunting horn, before they could start to hunt it. Sadly one of the hunts terriers was killed on the road at the start of the day as the terrier men threw it into the road and it went straight under a car. Video:

Next we once again sabbed the Badsworth & Bramham Moor. Friends from Nottingham & Manchester Sabs came along so there was forty of us. It was a very successful day, with three foxes and a deer being saved from the hounds.

The B&BM hunt had to deal with us all again the next week. This time they had called in some more goons to try and stop us. They started some fights, we fought back, they pissed off, and we stayed till the end of the day – saving another three foxes while we were there! Unfortunately one sab was illegally arrested by the hunts’ other security firm – North Yorkshire Police.

Next we went to the York & Ainsty South. We split into two groups so some sabs could stay with the hounds all day while others stayed well ahead of them. This really paid off and three hunted foxes ran right past sabs, followed by masses of citronella (to mask their scent), and some very confused hounds! We also sabbed a grouse shoot at the end of the day, but were unfortunately evicted from the land after about an hour by the North Yorkshire Police.

At the end of October we sabbed a newcomers meet of the Badsworth & Bramham Moor. There were almost forty sabs out again and the hunt tried out a new (to them) tactic of legging it all day. This worked fine for us as they moved way too fast to hunt anything and we just had to keep an eye on them. South Yorkshire Police didn’t see fit to keep an eye on them though and instead the focus of the force’s helicopter, fifteen or so officers plus four cops on horseback and one on a quadbike was entirely on us!

A small group of us visited the Meynell & South Staffs hunt on a Thursday at the start of November. We had a relatively successful start to the day but ultimately had to leave early when the police illegally arrested one of our number.

We sabbed the Burton hunt at the start of November. These always move fast so we had our work cut out. They got onto the scent of a few foxes and a couple of deer – at one point the huntsman even got off his horse to encourage the hounds to dig into a fox earth – so we repeatedly took the hounds from the huntsman to distract and slow them down. A few Lincolnshire cops showed up with a load of made up laws and an Alsatian at their disposal but we were ready for home by the time they really got going.

On November 12th we visited the York & Ainsty North for the second time this season, and in many of the same fields & woods as before. We were outnumbered by North Yorkshire police who were itching to make arrests. The hounds were in cry in a wood when a fox ran out and across an open field in front of the police, police evidence gatherers (with a camera), the huntsman and sabs. Five sabs ran into the field after the fox had passed and sprayed the area whilst the other sabs sprayed near to the wood. The five sabs were then arrested for aggravated trespass (trespassing to disrupt a lawful activity) but later de-arrested due to the evidence gatherer’s footage of the fox! During this time the hounds also ran across the field but they lost the fox’s scent and another fox escaped from the opposite side of the wood, where the other group of sabs were able to spray. The arresting officers told us they couldn’t police the hunt because they were too tied up with us, and asked “so what exactly is your issue with hunting?”!

That Tuesday sabs from various groups went back to the B&BM. We had a really good day, keeping up with and ahead of the hunt throughout the day. Two foxes were saved from hounds running just metres behind them at the start of the day, and later another fox was brave enough to cross the busy A61 to escape the hounds, here we spayed it’s tracks and stopped the hounds as they inevitably followed – there would undoubtedly have been hound deaths on the road if we hadn’t been there to stop them and slow the traffic. One police officer obviously liked the look of some sabs as he tried his chat up line of “stop and talk to me or I’ll find something to lock you up for”!

Next we returned to North Yorkshire to sab the York & Ainsty South again. For the first time, the police were interested in the illegal hunting and followed the hunt for the whole day, even searching the terrier man’s vehicle on suspicion that it might be carrying foxes! Without them stopping us we were able to keep up with the hounds all day, calling them from the hunt several times until the hunt completely lost the whole pack and spent a long time rounding them up before packing up.

At the end of November we sabbed the York & Ainsty South hunt with Manchester Sabs. The morning was uneventful, but around mid-day a fox was hunted into an earth. We got to the earth before the terrier men, but over 10 people then came to move us off the earth so the terrier men could dig-out and kill the fox. These people became violent but we stood our ground and made them leave. They came back 2 more times that day to try again but we stopped them each time. They then came back with the police who arrested 5 sabs for “trespassing to disrupt a lawful activity”, but these charges were all dropped the day before their court date! Sabs stayed at the earth till after dark to ensure the dig-out couldn’t go ahead. Watch footage:

At the start of December we sabbed the Meynel & South Staffs hunt, with Nottingham & Derby Sabs. We had a very successful day, taking control of the hounds several times and assisting at least 1 fox in its escape. Quote of the day was awarded to police officer 3812 when he said “But it’s such a nice sight to see horses and dogs running over a field. It’s only a fox and they don’t kill many”!!

The next Sat we went and joined Nottingham, Derby & Coventry Sabs at a pheasant shoot in Leicestershire. The shoot packed up as soon as they saw 30+ sabs running towards them!

Mid December we visited the Badsworth & Bramham Moor hunt, where one sab was detained for “breach of the peace” and later released without charge. Half way through the day we heard that the York & Ainsty South hunt was hunting and digging out an old badger sett for foxes not too far away. We got there as quick as we could but a fox had sadly been killed before we arrived. The terrier men initially stopped what they were doing, but then later tried to continue the dig-out. We got them to stop, then waited in sight of the earth until after dark, when the fox eventually came out of the earth and ran off.

On Christmas Eve, we sabbed the Quorn hunt. with some other groups. We kept up with the hunt all day, ensuring a kill free day.

On New Year’s Eve we went to have a look at the Brocklesby hunt near Grimsby, who haven’t been sabbed for 15+ years. After about an hour the police turned up and informed us that this hunt somehow took out an injunction against sabs in 1995 which somehow still applies! So we decided to make a tactical retreat (for now) and join Nottingham Sabs at the Blankney hunt near Lincoln. Bizarrely the Per Ardua Beagles had met nearby and got some of their beagles mixed up in the pack of foxhounds – we had fun watching them try to round them all up, literally grabbing and carrying them, for the rest of the afternoon! Sabs helped a fox that was being perused by the hounds and another escaped into a badger sett.

Next we sabbed the York & Ainsty South hunt in a group of over 45 sabs. We made sure that the hunt had to deal with sabs all day and whenever they picked up the scent of a fox we were there to help them loose it.

We went to the Y&AS again the following week where we took the hounds from the huntsman throughout the day and kept them entertained. Some members of the hunt decided to start a fight with sabs half way through the day but failed rather dramatically to achieve whatever it was they wanted to achieve. Being sore losers, they went winging to their mates in uniform and managed to get 2 sabs arrested, but neither sab was charged with anything. Videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jb_NRifISgI&feature=plcp and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbN3z3SurIQ&feature=plcp

On Jan 21st we sabbed a pheasant shoot in Derbyshire with Manchester Sabs.

On the 28th, sabs visited the Claro Beagles in North Yorkshire. This hare hunt hadn’t seen sabs for many years – they took one look at us and cancelled their day’s hunting before they’d even started. A pheasant shoot was next on the agenda, who also packed up and stopped killing at the sight of sabs. And we finished off by going over to the Badsworth & Bramham Moor hunt nearby – the hounds were in cry when we got there so we called the hounds away from the fox’s scent and split the pack up, then the hunt packed up. Footage of sabbing the shoot can be viewed here:

On the same day some Yorkshire sabs also went south to successfully sab the Meynel & South Staffs hunt and a pheasant shoot, with Notts, Manc & Derby Sabs.

On the 4th, all the hunts that we knew of cancelled due to snow and frozen ground.

There was still snow everywhere on the 11th, but this didn’t stop the Basdworth & Bramaham Moor hunt going out on foot. The police were at the meet looking for us before we arrived, even though we hadn’t been to this hunt for 2 months! The police’s “Farmwatch” division watched over us all day and saw no shame in openly siding with the criminals that regularly illegally hunt foxes (many of whom are farmers!). So we followed them for a stroll through the woods all day. The hounds didn’t pick up a fox scent all day, so thankfully we didn’t really have to do anything. Then, towards the end of the day, one of said farmers and a redcoat from the hunt decided to throw a few punches at sabs, in full view of the police. One cop jumped in and started waving a baton about, but surprise surprise they refused to arrest these men for assault and threatened sabs with arrests (and a baton) instead! No sabs were hurt. What a bunch of scum. Video:

Next we visited the delightful South Notts hunt with a few other groups. The hunt seemed very agitated by our presence and took to legging it all day rather than properly hunting. Some hunt supporters took a different approach, by throwing bricks at one sab van – the police caught up with them and decided not to arrest them (too busy grabbing sabs for “breach of the peace”!), but legal proceedings against the culprits are still planned.

On February 25th we went to the Holderness hunt. Sabs haven’t been to this hunt for around 5 years, and it was a pretty hard day, with an abundance of particularly scummy hunt supporters. We struggled to stay with the huntsman and hounds and at one point towards the end of the day we caught up with them only to find 2 of the redcoats had blood smeared on their legs. This leads us to believe that, sadly, they killed a fox when they got away from us – the first kill while we’ve been at a hunt that our group has known of in years.

We helped the locals sab the Quorn hunt in Leicestershire next. The day went really well with them unable to hunt no matter where they turned, and packing up very early at 2pm.

On 10th March we sabbed the last meet of the season for the York & Ainsty South hunt in North Yorkshire. Unsurprisingly, North Yorkshire police were already there, with a number of vans and 4 cops on horseback. Despite their presence, we successfully sabbed the hunt all day and took the hounds off them on more than one occasion – much to the annoyance of the hunt. The hounds got onto the scent of a fox once, but soon got a whiff of citronella and lost its scent. Whilst sabs called the hounds in the opposite direction, sabs in the van saw the exhausted fox escape!

On the 17th we went to look for a hunt that turned not to be out, so then went looking for the Rockwood Harriers hunt and found them pretty quick, hunting not far from Sheffield. They seemed surprised to see us. We stayed ahead of the hunt, waiting to act should a fox or hare pop up. A fox did pop up and ran out of a wood from the hunt, in our direction. We sprayed its tracks and waited for the hunt, but the hounds managed to lose its scent before they got to us and then went the wrong way! And they packed up nice and early at 2.30pm.

We finished the season off on March 31st, with a visit to Cumbria, to sab the final meet of the Ullswater hunt, with Cumbria, Manchester & Liverpool Sabs. It wasn’t the best day as the hunt went up onto the fells earlier than we were expecting so we struggled to get close to them for most of the day. The day picked up a bit towards the end when we managed to take the whole pack of hounds from the hunt. The pack then split in two and went for a run on their own, down the fells back to their kennels – with the huntsman doing his best to catch them up, then packing up!

So that’s another season out of the way! We’ll be back out sabbing fox cub hunting in mid August, and busy with training and fundraising over the summer. All of the groups mentioned in this report would be very pleased to hear from anyone that wants to get involved in sabbing in any way – such as sabbing in the field, driving, navigating, fundraising, fixing up sab vans etc – so please get in touch!

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