Who Does What When Hunting

Who Does What When Hunting

When you decide to go hunting, it's imperative that you know who the important people are. You need to know who to follow, who to pay, and who not to overtake! We've collected details on some of the key members of the hunt, so you know who to look out for. 

The Master(s)

A hunt has one or more Masters who are responsible for the overall management and conduct of the hunt. They are responsible for liaising with local farmers and landowners to arrange a route for the hunt to follow. They are in charge of delegating to the Hunt Servants, and will meet with The Huntsman prior to a hunt to agree how the day will be conducted. Not all Masters will necessarily attend every meet, but at least one will act as the Field Master on the day of the hunt.

The Masters may belong to one of the Masters’ associations, but this is not a strict requirement. If they are members of an association, they are bound by the association’s rules and can be disciplined. The Masters are directly responsible to the Hunt Committee.

The Field Master

The Field Master oversees the Field. They will guide and manage the Field during the hunt. Their primary function is to stop the Field from over-running or overtaking the hounds, prevent the Field from hindering the hounds while they work, stop the Field from going into areas where access has been refused, and to minimise damage to crops, fences and hedges. The Field Master will always be introduced at the meet, so the riders know who will be in charge of them for the day. The role of Field Master will normally be undertaken by one of the Masters.

The Gentleman Masters wear the Hunt’s colours, e.g. red, green etc. For those who thrive on arcane facts, they normally have four buttons on their coats. There is universal agreement that, during a hunt, if you’re looking over your shoulder and count four buttons on the coat of the rider behind, you’re in trouble - it’s very bad form to overtake the Field Master.

The Huntsman

The Huntsman is a Hunt Servant who ‘hunts’ the hounds and is responsible for controlling and directing the pack during the hunt. They decide which coverts will be drawn, although the general plan for the day’s hunting would have been discussed in advance with the Master(s).

The Huntsman is the only one to use the horn which is used to encourage, control and direct the hounds. The horn is also used to communicate to the Whipper-In and the Hunt Followers. In addition, the pack can be controlled by a variety of voice calls and the use of whips, both by the Huntsman and Whipper-In. The Huntsman is also responsible for the welfare of the hounds and cleanliness of the kennels. They’re usually a professional and paid for the work they do.

The Whipper-In

The Huntsman is assisted by one or two Whippers-In, who are also Hunt Servants. Their job is to assist the Huntsman during the hunt, particularly in keeping the pack of hounds together, rounding up any missing hounds, and resolving any problems that occur during the day. Even when hounds are hunting, the Whipper-In could be some distance away collecting up stray hounds. When the pack needs to be stopped or called off, the Whipper-In will be with the Huntsman helping him to stop the hounds.

The Kennel Huntsman

The Kennel Huntsman is responsible for the hounds in kennels, feeding, caring for and exercising them. A professional Huntsman is his own Kennel Huntsman as well, but if a Master hunts the hounds himself, then a Kennel Huntsman is employed who is normally also the Whipper-In.

The Kennel Man

The Kennel Man works in the kennels under the Kennel Huntsman and looks after the hounds in kennels, assuring that all tasks are completed when the pack and Hunt Servants return from hunting.

The Hunt Secretary

The Hunt Secretary is responsible for calling and minuting committee meetings, liaising with the Masters, collecting subscriptions, and dealing with all the financial issues relating to the Hunt, including the payment of wages. Consequently, they are a key person in the management and day-to-day running of the Hunt.

The Hunt Committee

The Hunt Committee is elected by the subscribing members of the Hunt. It is the committee who appoint the Master(s). The Committee is responsible for developing the overall policy of the Hunt, and for raising funds to run the Hunt, including wages for hunt servants, food for the hounds, maintenance of the hunt premises and equipment, payment for damage to non-hunt property etc. Funds come from several sources, such as subscriptions, cap, point-to-point races, merchandise etc.

The Field

The collective term for the mounted hunt followers.

Hunt Followers

The Followers of the hunt that are not mounted. They will follow the hunt on foot, by car, bicycle or on a quad bike.

Now you know who's who, find out what YOU should be doing by reading our blog about Hunting Field Etiquette.

Field Etiquette When Hunting


Kim Horton

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


  • Lyn Hannant posted on October 30 2019 at 05:10 PM

    I sincerely hope you go hunting where a trail is laid prior to the event. I found the hunt etiquette instructions bewildering. How on earth is one expected to look over the shoulder, carry your whip low to guide errant hounds, count buttons on jackets and not engage in chitchat without falling off and breaking your neck? Many years ago, my friends took their calm and steady cob hunting, just to give him half an hour or so. Their teenage daughter was on him, luckily with a neck strap. Once the off had been blown, Oliver got the bit well between his teeth and took off. Apparently, he overtook all the other riders, the hunt staff, the master and also the fox, after which his rider was told to go home in disgrace. It took two days to get him back to his usual dozy self.

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