Former fox hunter exposes full scale of bloodsport’s barbarity as David Cameron seeks its return
22:30, 12 July 2015
By Tom Parry
Clifford Pellow, who hunted professionally for 23 years, spoke of how a hunt master crushed three pups with his heel after hounds tore pregnant vixen apart
A former fox hunter disgusted by the sport is leading the fight to block its return.
Clifford Pellow says “I got sick of the cruelty” as he reveals the full horrors of vile hunts in a bid to stop David Cameron axing the ban .
With 23 years of hunts behind him involving the horrific deaths of more than 2,000 foxes, there is little Clifford does not know about the bloodsport.
So that makes the 72-year-old former professional huntsman ideally placed to lift the lid on the full disgusting barbarity of hunting with hounds.
And Clifford, who turned his back on his livelihood after becoming sickened by the brutal methods used to ensure foxes were ripped to bits, is now leading the fight to block Tory plans to bring back the banned country sport.
He is speaking out publicly in a bid to stop PM Cameron sneaking in proposals that will effectively allow hunting with hounds to return – despite eight out of 10 people opposing it.
On Wednesday, MPs will get a free vote on whether to let a pack of dogs “flush out” foxes , rather than just the two allowed now.
Critics believe this is an underhand way of repealing Labour’s 2004 fox hunting ban without having to completely overturn legislation.
If passed, it may mean packs of baying hounds could be back chasing defenceless foxes by Christmas.
And after Queen guitarist Brian May spoke up against the vote, Clifford has decided to back the Mirror campaign against a repeal on the ban by revealing exactly what lengths hunters go to in a bid to satisfy their lust for animal blood in the name of sport.
The former farm worker, who now campaigns for the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “I know from my own long experience it is a lie to say fox hunting is sport.
"In sport both teams have the same chance. Hunting is completely unequal because one fox is being chased by 35 hounds.
"The fox is also at a disadvantage because it is a nocturnal creature being chased in daylight.”
Speaking of his own experiences as a huntsman, Clifford added: “The things we were doing to foxes was just unbelievable. We would put them in sacks.
"We tied them up by the legs and dragged them across the fields to leave a scent. It was absolutely disgusting.
“In the end I got sick of all the gross cruelty and all the killing.”
Clifford, of Newport, South Wales, told of one truly horrendous moment when hounds pulled a pregnant fox from her den and ripped it apart.
Afterwards, the hunt master put the heel of his boot on the three squirming pups that had been inside her and crushed them.
He added: “On one occasion we had a live fox in a sack which we tipped out in the field, but before it was tipped out they allowed the hounds to bite into the sack.
“There were other times when foxes were brought from somewhere else, so they didn’t know where they were. This meant that they ran with their head up.
"A fox brought in was trapped in a wood and then allowed to run across a few fields into a farm where it fell into the slurry pit. The farmer’s son shot it.
“It fell in because it didn’t know the pit was there, simple as that.
“Another time they dragged a fox across a couple of fields into a dry ditch before flinging the rope over a branch of a tree.
"They hoisted it up, and then let it drop a bit so the hounds could bite it. They kept doing this to work the hounds up. In the end they just dropped it into the pack of hounds.
“I remember looking at the fox being kept in the milk churn and thinking, ‘Tomorrow, you’ll be dead’. They are lovely creatures. I am totally ashamed at my cruelty to those animals.
“It’s quite awful, quite barbaric really. What I myself did was quite awful.”
Clifford, who was a huntsman from 1966 to 1990, recalls another moment when a hound of his grabbed a vixen around the middle with his teeth.
The animal ran another 50 yards with its entrails hanging out before the other hounds finished her off.
Disgusted Clifford dismissed the usual claims that fox hunting is an effective way of pest control.
He said: “It is nonsense and lies to say hunting has anything to do with controlling a pest in the countryside. When I worked on a farm, it was more effective to flush foxes out with two sheepdogs than with a pack of dogs.
"It’s got to be the worst method of fox control. There are more foxes killed on the motorways than killed by hounds.
“The hunting fraternity have a lot of excuses for hunting but not one justification. The only justification is to kill something at the end of the day.
“They could easily go drag hunting, where the hounds follow a scent, if it was about camaraderie.
“It is cruel. There is no other way of saying it. In all my years of working in hunts and on farms, I never once saw evidence of a fox hurting a lamb.
“It is not true. And if that were a justification, they shouldn’t be hunting with hounds anyway because dogs kill sheep. This is another of the excuses.
“They don’t mention the fact they shoot dead the hounds when they are seven or eight years old. There is no love lost. They shoot them with no more feeling than shooting a rat. It’s not just foxes that suffer.
“There is no doubt at all this vote is about bringing fox hunting back to what it was before the ban. It is not about the hunting, it is about being able to go and kill something. That is what they want most of all.
“Cameron has always said he will repeal the Hunting Act. I think this week’s vote is a way of repealing the act through the back door. I hope MPs use their common sense and remember this is the 21st century.”
TV star Chris Packham has backed Clifford’s plea to block the hunting amendment.
The Springwatch presenter said a video appeal: “Do we really want this to be a forum for psychopathic barbarism in the 21st century? I don’t think so. Please do all you can to prevent a return to fox hunting.”
Clifford had been bloodied – when fox blood is daubed on his forehead and cheeks by the master of the hunt – aged four.
But once he turned his back on the cruel sport he complained to the Master of Fox Hounds Association about the barbarity.
The complaint was rejected and the Master sued him for libel over comments he made in a Westminster press conference, claiming Clifford himself was responsible for the cruelty. A jury threw out the case.
But the former Sussex kennels worker was exiled from the hunting fraternity and found other work as a security guard and hospital porter. He devotes his time to campaigning against bloodsport.
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