The Huntsman's Return

Autumn 2005

The hunting ban in England and Wales seems vaguely objectionable to me, at least in part because a government that is happy to kill humans in the Middle East should not be so holier-than-thou about killing foxes in the Midlands. And it is so easy to rip things up, much harder to rebuilt them, even if they are expensive, pointless and rather dangerous. So is bathing in the sea, getting laid in Ibiza, and beer.

But there are lots of hunting still allowed. Fishing (ramming a hook into the mouth of a living fish and then dragging it through the water for up to an hour) is fine. So apparently is hunting with birds. Hawking and so on. Probably because it is all historical and medieval, and rich people don't do it in silly clothes.

Which lead a friend and me to come up with an excellent idea. Hunting foxes with ostriches. An ostrich can easily keep up with a horse or fox, its kick can crack the skull of a human, never mind canine vermin, and they are very obviously not hounds. Of course, they are fantastically stupid, and you might have to attach a flashing yellow light to the top of the fox to get the animals to chase it. But I am sure they could be trained. After all, pigeons were trained to carry messages across the trenches in the world wars, parrots can be trained to make complex meaningless noises on command ("Polly wants a cracker" cannot possibly mean 'Polly wants a cracker' in parrot). Pavlovian training for Ostriches to a) follow the guy blowing the horn and b) lick the s*** out of foxes should be quite do-able. With the added advantage that when the old bird got a bit past its best in the pack, you could eat it.

I can see this as a grand new British tradition, the sight of the huntsmen in Pink, tearing across the autumn fields of Warwickshire on their motorbikes (riding horses having been declared discriminatory against the horse, because the horse does not get an equal opportunity to ride the human), 'View Hallo'-ing after a pack of ostriches in full squawk after the fox.





Di' ya ken John Peel with his coat so grey
Its been covered in bird shit from break of the day
John Peel's foolish fowl have all lost their prey
So it's fried ostrich steak in the morning


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