Well, that is it for this months humour, the rest is going to be serious I’m afraid. You should know me by now and will be aware that my being serious means either the editor is on my case or I’m worried; this time it’s the latter.

It’s this whole fox hunting/farmers rally that has got me going. I know fox hunting and fishing are as close as choc-ice and chips to the average man in the street but in this politically correct society, with the likes of PETA to the fore, means if we give way to hunting then they will divert their attentions to angling next.

It seems odd to me to talk about fox hunting on a fishing web site but I’m just trying to stay one step ahead of these buggers. Just for the record I have never hunted a fox nor have any designs to. I am a dog owner; I have a terrier called Molly and a German shepherd called, coincidentally, Foxy. Both enjoy a good life, love fishing and would view a rabbit as a playmate rather than a food source. To read the PETA propaganda I’m already a heathen to have ‘pets’ but to go with their thesis my dogs would not even be alive to serve my subservient needs!

I listened to a radio debate on the hunting argument recently where one listener opined on a scenario about two adjacent farms; one allowed fox hunting the other abhorred the practise, so where did the foxes live?
Obvious eh? Not so...

They lived on the farm that allowed hunting because on that farm the owners made sure there were foxes alive to hunt; on the one that disallowed hunting they were being poisoned or gassed to death to rid the farm owners of this ‘vermin’. The real common sense comment came when an old country bumpkin called to say, "I thinks towns folk ought to stick to town things and let us country folk stick to country things". ‘Nuff said.

Back to the fishing - our sport is in danger; real danger, whatever your views oppose PETA on EVERYTHING they say. Ultimately they’re getting around to the ‘rights’ of gudgeon; it’s just a matter of time.

Now I would rate myself as an ‘animal lover’ in every aspect, I once got a reprimand for returning a bass to its watery home but I didn’t want to eat it, stuff it or anything else so release seemed the obvious solution.
Back to the foxes, I firmly believe they would be extinct by now if it weren’t for the hunters.

Foxes cause unimaginable damage to the environment.
Sheep, ducks and chickens all suffer at their voracious appetite and farmers quite rightly do not want them on their land; but the lily-livered liberals amongst us don’t seem to appreciate the foxes will still be killed by effective scientific means, if not given the opportunity to have a fighting chance dodging the dogs in nothing more than a glorious excuse for a piss up.

I’m not saying I agree with the act of having a fox torn apart by a pack of dogs but I am taking the Machiavellian view of what would the alternatives be for the species. I know rabies has contributed to the demise of the fox throughout Europe but this disease has accounted for far less deaths than man has. That’s man the farmer not man the hunter.
I am against any form of cruelty and agree the line should be drawn somewhere. Bear-baiting, dog and cock fighting and other events (I won't use the word ‘sport’) purely to satisfy a bloodthirsty urge that lies in some of us must continue to be outlawed but fishing, pet ownership and the choice to eat meat would surely be taking things to extremes.

Ten years ago I would read pieces in the tabloids and think ‘only in America’ but these issues are becoming transatlantic with increasing regularity.
I read an article recently where a deaf person had applied for a job as a telephone operator and had been declined the vacancy. He took BT to court and won seven thousand pounds compensation because BT had failed to remove the ‘TELEPHONE’ element from the job, excuse me but isn’t that akin to removing the ‘BUS’ element from being a bloody bus driver! We all have ‘human rights’ but let's keep things in proportion.

I can only speak from my own perspective, saying what I see as I fish for carp around the country. Every specimen hunter I have ever met treats these fish with such respect; fine mesh landing nets, huge unhooking mats, barbless hooks, ‘sack’ bans on many waters to name but a few. The whole H.N.V bait philosophy to provide a balanced food source is another example. To put it simply we all love and care about our fish and fishing. Harming a fish is a sure-fire way to be banned from any water and castigated by all your peers.

Animals eat other animals, regardless of your views this is a fact, it’s called the food chain. Nature has been perfecting this since time began, long before animal right activists came along. I’m a live and let live type of guy and respect other people's opinions - as I hope you will respect mine. All I’m trying to get over is, let's have a bit of common sense and keep things in proportion.

When you hear of the recent atrocities to Sarah Payne, Millie Dowler, the Soham girls and others I can't help but feel there are far more important issues to address than whether I’ve caused emotional distress to a bream or not.
I’m off for a lie down!!

Whether you agree with Rod's appraisal of the fox-hunting problem or not (and I don't agree) that last paragraph surely puts the whole question into perspective. But as this is a soap-box article…
Personally I feel that drag-hunting can easily replace fox-hunting and will have minimal effect on the 'industry' as a whole. If a fox is considered vermin and becomes a pest, treat it as such. Shoot it. Humanely. Over just a couple of weeks, one man equipped with a rifle and a night-sight can accomplish far more effective culling than all the hunts put together.