Hunting Terms

Hunting Terms

It's confusing enough finding a hunt to attend and figuring out what to wear, let alone knowing what the traditional terms mean that are being shouted around you. Luckily, our handy guide highlights some common hunting terms and their meanings.

Autumn Hunting - The early part of the season, from around August to the beginning of the Main season.

Babbler or Babbling - A hound who speaks when it is not hunting.

“Beware hole” - A call for riders to be careful of potholes, rabbit holes, etc. whilst riding – often pronounced as “war ‘ole” (‘ware hole).

Biddable - Hounds are said to be ‘biddable’ when they are at their most responsive, e.g. after a check.

Bitch - A female hound. A “hot bitch” indicates a female hound that is in season.

Blank - The hunt draws a blank when they fail to find a scent from the area they were searching, so the covert can be said to be “blank”.

Bobbery Pack - A hunting pack made up of local dogs including hounds, terriers, lurchers, and sheepdogs.

Brock - A colloquial term for a badger.

Brush - A colloquial term for the tail of a fox.

Bye-day - An additional day of hunting not on the meet card.

Cap - The daily charge or donation from riders who do not usually subscribe to the hunt.

“Car please” - Shouted to tell followers to let a car through.

Casting - Hounds are cast to look for the line of the scent.

Charlie - Along with other names such as “Reynard” and “Tod”, the name that was often used instead of “fox”. It is thought to originate from the MP Charles James Fox.

Check - When hounds lose the scent temporarily.

Country - The land that a hunt is allowed to hunt on.

Couple - Hounds are counted in couples so, for example, 7 couple would be 14 hounds.

Covert - A wood or other area where a scent may be picked up.

Cry - see ‘speak’ (below).

Cur dog - A canine which is not a hound.

Dog - A male hound.

Drag - The artificial scent laid in drag hunting.

Draw - Putting hounds into an area and moving them through to try and find a scent.

Entered - An entered hound is one who has completed one or more hunting seasons.

Falconry - The keeping, training and / or sport of hunting with falcons or other birds of prey.

Feather or Feathering - When a hound is on the line but is uncertain, it will not speak and instead will wave or ‘feather’ its tail (stern) and move along the assumed line.

Field - The mounted followers.

Field Master - The Master in charge of leading the Field.

Foil - Smells or disturbed ground that spoil the line of scent.

“Gate please” - Called down the line to alert the last person to close a gate behind them.

Gather - When the Huntsman blows certain notes on the hunting horn to gather the hounds together or to signal the end of hunting for the day – to “blow the gather”.

“Good morning” - Used at the beginning of the day as a greeting, regardless of the time.

“Good night” - Used to say goodbye whenever going home, even if it’s 1pm!

Heel - Hounds are said to be hunting the heel line if they’re going the wrong way on the scent (the opposite direction).

“Hold hard” - Called by the Field Master to stop the Field immediately.

“Holloa” - Pronounced ‘holler’, it is a loud, high-pitched sound made to indicate the sighting of the quarry. It may be emphasised by the raising of a hat or arm, or replaced by a whistle.

Horn - Used by the huntsman to control and communicate with the hounds - e.g. to encourage them or call them back - or to signify the end of the day.

Hounds - All scent-hunting dogs are referred to as hounds.

“Hounds please” - To tell hunt followers to move out of the way.

Hunt Staff - Responsible for working the hounds (e.g. Huntsman, Whipper-in, etc.).

Huntsman - The rider who hunts/follows and controls the hounds.

“Kick on” - If a rider stops or makes way for a Master at a gate or jump and the Master says you may go on ahead.

Laid on - When hounds are introduced to a line.

Lawn Meet - Hosts provide refreshments at this sociable type of meet.

Line - The scent laid during trail-hunting.

“Loose horse” - Shouted if someone has fallen off and the horse is running away.

Made Worker - Refers to a hound or terrier that is so experienced it can be relied upon to do its job without further training.

Master - Person responsible for the running of the hunt and talking to landowners, planning the route, etc.

Meet - Where the hunt will meet before going out for the day.

Meet card - List of dates and times for each hunt meet.

Mixed pack - A pack consisting of male and female hounds.

Mute - A hound that hunts without speaking.

Opening meet - Start of formal hunting or the start of the “Main Season”.

Own - Hounds are said to ‘own the line’ when they pick up a scent.

Point to point - A day of racing over fences, organised by the hunt.

Puppy - A hound who is new to hunting that season - when weaned, young hounds will be sent off to hunt supporters to be raised, socialised and familiarised with livestock and other dogs so that they are well-behaved when hunting begins.

Ratcatcher - A tweed jacket, the official dress for mounted followers during Autumn Hunting and for visitors to a hunt.

Rate - When hounds are reprimanded when they stray from the pack or riot, etc. This can be accompanied by a whip cracking.

Riot - Hounds riot when they chase something they shouldn’t, e.g. a deer or a hare.

Season - The time period in which hunting takes place.

Speak - Hounds are said to speak, not bark, when following a scent.

Stern - A hound’s tail.

“Tally ho” - A term used by the Huntsman to encourage hounds on to a scent – “tally ho back” or “tally ho over” may be called by experienced members of a hunt to indicate the direction of the quarry.

Throw up – when hounds lose the line and check, they lift their heads and look around.

Trencher fed - Term used for hounds not looked after as a pack, but who live with individuals and are brought together for hunting days.

Whipper-in - Hunt staff who help control the hounds.

Now you know the basics, how do you get out there on the hunt? Read our blog to find out.

How To Get Started In Fox Hunting


Kim Horton

Co-Founder of EQUUS and a keen equestrian, when Kim's not at her desk she's with her horse, Waldo.

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