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Glossary of hunting terms



Autumn Hunting

The early part of hunting, usually from mid to late August until the Opening Meet

Babbler or babbling

A hound that speaks when it is not hunting is said to be a babbler or babbling. However it is quite normal for bloodhounds to babble when they move off from the meet or when they approach the start of a hunt


A daily charge for non-subscribers. You should always offer your cap, not wait to be asked for it


Hounds are looking for the line. The huntsman may cast the hounds towards where he thinks the hounds will pick it up


When the hounds lose the line




Two hounds. Couples are also two collars linked on a chain and can be seen hanging on the hunt staff's saddles


The quarry is said to be "enlarged" at the point where the hunt starts


An entered hound is a hound that has done a season's hunting.


Hounds are said to feather or be feathering when they have the line but are unable to speak to it


The mounted followers

Field Master

The person in charge of leading and controlling the Field during the days hunting


Any smell or disturbed ground which spoils the scent line.

"Good Morning"

The appropriate greeting at the meet - should always be said to the Master at the start of the day

"Good Night"

The correct way to say goodbye at the end of the days hunting, even if it was an Autumn Hunting morning which ended before midday

Green Ribbon

Should be worn on the tail of a young horse

Hand behind the back

Means this horse might kick if you crowd it

Hand in the air by gateway

Signal to people coming towards a gate, but out of hearing, that the gate should be shut. The response to which should be to hold your hand in the air to show you have got the message and will shut the gate


Hounds are hunting heel when they hunt the reverse direction on the line of the quarry

"Hold Hard"

Shouted by the Field Master means to stop and stay where you are

Hot bitches

In season bitches

Hoic holloa

When the Huntsman has heard a holloa but needs to check the direction he shouts "Hoic holloa" You should then holloa back to him


All scent hunting dogs are referred to as hounds. It is the duty of mounted followers to keep out of the way of the hounds, NOT vice versa.


The man who hunts the hounds. There is only one huntsman on the hunting field, and he has absolute right of way at all times

Hunt Button & Collar

Subscribers who have gained knowledge and been helpful to the hunt may be awarded the hunt button and collars of the hunt. The buttons are black for women and brass for men, with the hunt logo. The collar is varied individual to the hunt

Hunt Staff

The people responsible for working the hounds. i.e. Huntsman and Whippers-in, both professional and amateur

"Kick on"

You may get this response when you make way for a Master or Huntsman at a gate or jump. It means you don't have to wait for him/her and should carry on


The scent left by the runner.

"Loose Horse"

Shouted when someone has fallen off and the horse is running away


These are the people responsible for the running of the hunt and particularly for liaison with the farmers and landowners. They should have right of way at all times second only to the hunt staff

"Master/Huntsman/Whip/Hound please"

This means give way to these people as they have a job to do. If it is heard on a road or a track everyone should move to one side and turn their horse to face the person. This will reduce the chances of them kicked

"Master/Huntsman/Whip/Hound on the right/left"

This means the Master/Whip/Hound should be let through on the side shouted.

Mixed pack

A pack consisting of dogs and bitches


A hound which hunts without speaking is mute

Opening Meet

The start of formal hunting. Usually the last Saturday in October or first in November

Rat Catcher

A a Tweed jacket worn during Autumn Hunting. Rat Catcher is also an acceptable form of dress after the Opening Meet for those who have not been given a hunt button, or as a visitor

Red Ribbon

Worn on the tale of a known kicker. These horses should be kept at the back of the field until they become educated and no longer need to wear a ribbon

Riot or rioting

When hounds hunt something other than their intended quarry, they are rioting


The smell of the line.


Runs from 1st May until 30th April of the following year. Autumn Hunting will start once the harvest is under way, usually towards the end of August and will consist of short hunts in the early morning or early evening. Formal hunting starts with the Opening Meet and will go on usually to the middle of March


Usually the Honorary Hunt Secretary (unpaid) who deals with day to day enquiries from subscribers and those wishing to hunt on a daily basis. It is more correct to make enquiries about hunting with a pack of hounds through the Hunt Secretary rather than through the Master or the Kennels. Visitors should contact this person before coming out with a pack and then seek this person out at the meet and offer to pay their cap to them

Speak or speaking

Hounds do not bark, they speak or are speaking when they are hunting a scent


A hound's tail


Someone who pays an annual subscription to hunt with a pack of hounds

Throw up

When hounds lose the line and check they lift their heads and look round for help or "throw up"


Hounds at walk, often known as Puppy Walking, is where whelps are sent to private homes, from the age of eight weeks until they get too big and boisterous for the walkers, at which point they return to kennels to learn how to fit in to the pack

"Ware Hole/Wire/Glass"

Ware is often pronounced "War" and means beware. Therefore if you hear "War 'ole", or "Ware 'ole" it actually means mind out there is a hole in the ground coming up! Similarly any other hazard


A new born hound is a whelp and remains so until it comes back from being walked

Whip in the air (usually by Field Master)

This means stand still where you are, NOT wait until you get level with the Field Master and then stop

Whip held to side by huntsman

If the whip is in the huntsman's right hand he will be keeping the hounds to his left. You should therefore let him pass so that his horse is between you and the hounds


The person who helps the huntsman control the hounds. This person has right of way at all times and will only give way to the Huntsman. He may be a professioanl or an amateur

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