|The Duke of Beaufort's Foxhunt
The Dukes of Beaufort first started kennelling hounds in Badminton in the 1640's for the purpose of hunting deer, changing to foxhunting around 1750. Most of the hounds in the Kennels today can be traced back to that date, making them the most chronicled animals in the world; 55 generations in a number of instances.
Until the 1800's, they hunted most of East and North Gloucestershire and much of Wiltshire. Today the area covered runs from Bath to Calne in the south, Malmesbury to Cirencester in the east and Nailsworth in the north and the Severn Escarpment to Bristol in the west, covering a hunting ground of 450 square miles.
Hunts go out 4 days per week from late August to late March - approximately 125 per annum with a close season of 5 months in the summer, the foxes breeding period. Most hounds hunt two days per week but can on occasion do three and are capable of covering up to 100 miles in a day. They hunt entirely by nose rarely ever seeing their quarry. Hounds are always counted in couples and around 65 couples are permanently kennelled at Badminton. The Huntsman and his staff ride two horses per day leading a mounted field with the Beaufort occasionally numbering over 200 horses.
The Beaufort Hunt is self-funding hunt. It derives support from people of every background and and claims to be a contributer to it's rural community both finacially and socially throughh charities and job opportunities. Farmers, seed merchants, saddlers,horse dealers, horsebox dealers, veterinarians and fencers are among thebeneficiaries of the economy the Hunt instigates.
Annually over ten thousand people follow or support the Beaufort Hunt in one way or another. Nationally, nearly a quarter of a million people follow hounds at one or more of the 22.000 fixtures held by one of 311 Hunting packs that operate throughout the British Isles.
Every year around 100.000 foxes are killed in Britain; 15.000 of those end their days from the sport known as foxhunting.