Normal hunters seek to kill their animals as quickly as possible, because that guarantees the animal the least amount of pain (and makes for the tastiest meat). But foxes aren't hunted for meat, and speed isn't exactly the goal: This is about ceremony. The fox never dies instantly. The hounds often get to it first. Today it's illegal for dogs to make the kill (they can only be there to drive the fox to an awaiting hawk. Yes, there are hawks.), but the dogs are chasing the fox, and it is notoriously hard to explain the law to dogs. Once I was one of the first to get there and arrived just in time to see the pack going in an eight-way tug-of-war with the body. Sometimes when you get to the fox, only pieces remain.
This movie would have been 30 childhood-scarring-seconds long if it took place in England.
Even when we get to the fox intact, it's often cornered and sometimes really injured. We're often arm's length away when we perform the coup de grace. That's when it suddenly turns into a Tarantino film -- you shoot it and blood spurts everywhere. For some reason, a lot of people are surprised that blood spatter is a consequence of a short-range shotgun blast.
Yes, this is the U.K.'s most posh and gentlemanly of sports.
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Each hunt begins with our old song of tradition.