If you cannot see images at all on my site click here for an explanation
Competition Index
First Posted Sept 3, 2007
Jan 21, 2020

Human Roles In Fox Hunting

by Debora Johnson

Emergency Medical Guide for First Responders in the Hunt Field


Human participants in a fox hunt fulfill specific roles. The following gives a quick review of the relevance of each role:

Master of the Fox Hounds (MFH) or Joint Master of the Fox Hounds operates the sporting activities of the hunt, maintains the kennels, works with, and sometimes is, the Huntsman. The word of the Master is the final word in the field and in the kennels. The Master spends the money raised by the hunt club. Often the Master or Joint Masters are the largest of financial contributors to the hunt. The Master is responsible for where the hounds will meet, what area the hunt will cover, and decides when the hounds will return home. He is also responsible to ensure that the Field stays always mindful of the landowners and their land.

Honorary Secretaries are volunteers. There is usually one in America and two in the UK. The Honorary Secretaries collect the capping fees.* They are also responsible for making sure that any damage to the landowner's property is repaired. The Secretary reports any poor behavior in the Field.

A Committee may run the "Hunt Supporters Club." They organize fund raising and social events.

A Kennelman looks after the hounds and kennels. The role is to assure that all tasks are completed when the pack and staff return from hunting.

The Huntsman is responsible for directing the hounds in the course of the hunt. The Huntsmen usually carries a horn to communicate to the hounds, followers, and whippers-in. He works the hounds in a unit and encourages the pack to do so. If there is a check the Huntsman must get the hounds to recover the line by use of a cast, if necessary. The Huntsman must think and make decisions quickly. Only the Huntsman gives direction to the Whippers-in. No one must attempt to assist or follow the Huntsman or Master of the Hunt unless asked to do so.

Whippers-in are the assistants to the Huntsman. Their main job is to keep the pack all together. Another job of the whippers-in is to prevent the hounds from "running riot."* The Whippers-in carry hunting whips to help control the pack. In the United States sometimes .22 revolvers loaded with rat-shot or blanks, are carried as well.

The Field are the mounted riders who are taking part in the hunt. There is a Field Master who makes sure that no one interferes with the hounds. The Field Master also ensures that there is no damage to the landowners. The Field has a definite order. Always stay behind the Field Master. The riders are behind the Field Master according to their seniority in the Hunt. Junior members must always stay behind senior members. It is important to keep your order in the Field. Do not distract the hounds.

"Hilltoppers" stay a distance behind the hunt. Often they do not jump coops, but rather, go around them. The riders may be slower or less experienced. Sometimes a horse that is new to the hunt will be introduced, first, by hilltopping. Hilltoppers are expected to be properly turned out but do not have to follow the hunt dress code. Check with the hunt club so that you abide by their rules.

*Capping fee is a term used to describe the money paid by guests riding to the hunt. They are not members.
*Running riot is a term used to refer to the hounds hunting any animal other than the hunted fox.

For More Information:

Oakridge Fox Hunting Club Protocol

Competition Index