- field sports
The main field sports in Britain are hunting, shooting and fishing. They are often also called blood sports because they involve killing animals. All three sports were traditionally associated with the upper classes, although today they all, especially fishing, attract a wider group of people.Foxhunting is the most common form of hunting. A pack of specially trained dogs (called foxhounds) are used to chase after and kill a fox while a group of horse riders follow, traditionally wearing pinks (= red jackets) and blowing horns. The most famous hunts (= clubs that hunt) include the Belvoir, and the Quorn. Foxhunting was once a popular subject for painting and some English country pubs display sets of prints. Staghunting now takes place in only a few parts of Britain. Hare coursing, in which greyhounds chase after a hare (= a type of rabbit) still takes place, although often illegally without the permission of landowners. Other traditional blood sports such as badger-baiting and cockfighting are now illegal.Hunting with dogs has become an important political issue in Britain. Many people, especially those living in towns and cities, believe the practice is cruel and should be stopped. The ruling Labour Party has promised to end it, but some people living in the country see this as an attack on their way of life. Hunting with dogs was made illegal in Scotland in 2002. In 2003 the House of Commons voted in favour of a complete ban but the legislation was blocked by the House of Lords. Organizations opposed to hunting with dogs include the League Against Cruel Sports and the RSPCA ( Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). The main organization in favour is the Countryside Alliance.Shooting game birds, such as pheasant and grouse, is a sport mainly of the upper and middle classes. Grouse shooting begins each year on 12 August, the Glorious Twelfth, and takes place mainly in Scotland. The hunters often employ beaters to drive the birds towards their guns. Those who object to shooting at live birds for sport do clay-pigeon shooting (= shooting at clay discs fired into the air).Fishing, often called angling, is a very popular sport and there are many angling clubs. Three main types angling take place: fly-fishing, coarse fishing and sea fishing. Fly-fishing, which is expensive, is fishing for salmon, trout and other fish in fast-flowing rivers, using specially disguised hooks. Coarse fishing in rivers and lakes for fish other than salmon and trout, most of which are thrown back after being caught, is more widely popular. On the coast people may fish with a rod and line from a boat or from the shore.The US probably has more hunting organizations than any other country. This is mainly because of two strong traditions: the Constitution gives all Americans the right to own guns, and Americans have always hunted animals for food. The first Europeans who settled America hunted deer, bear, foxes, turkeys and ducks to survive, and many Americans still eat what they shoot. For these reasons, hunting is a sport for all classes and many people own hunting rifles. Americans do not use the name field sports. Instead they say outdoor sports or, because that can include camping, walking and boating, simply hunting and fishing. Bird hunting is often used instead of shooting, because that can also mean shooting at targets made of wood. People who enjoy these sports buy magazines like Field & Stream and American Rifleman. There are also many television programmes about hunting and fishing.Many other Americans are against hunting, but animal rights groups have little power against organizations like the National Rifle Association, which has more than 4 million members, and other politically active groups that support hunting and fishing. Conservation organizations like the Colorado Wildlife Coalition also use their influence to protect the rights of people to hunt and fish.The first US hunting club, the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club, was established in 1766 in Philadelphia. Foxhunting now only takes place in a few eastern states where it is associated with the upper class and has little opposition. Americans generally hunt deer, elk, bear, antelope, mountain lion, raccoon and wild birds. Hunting licences may cost only $10 for one day’s fishing but rise to $135 for a general hunting and fishing licence and $250 for hunting and trapping (= catching live animals). The US Fish and Wildlife Service is in charge of fishing and hunting laws. States have their own wildlife departments and sometimes both national and state permission is needed to hunt.Fishing is the most popular outdoor sport in America. Freshwater (= river) fish caught in the US include trout, bass and salmon. Saltwater (= sea) fish include flounder, mackerel, shark, snapper and tuna.
* * *