Hunt saboteurs from Croydon met on a December weekend to disrupt the Futaie des Amis Stag Hunt.
Alfie Moon, a 54-year-old youth support worker, is still elated about the success of the direct action, which saw six ‘sabs’ from Croydon join comrades from France and Belgium in the Forest of Compiègne, 191 miles southeast of Croydon and 42 miles northeast of Paris.
“We saw these two hinds (young female deer) go by. The hounds were literally yards behind them in full cry. We have this little device called a gizmo, which is a tape recording of hounds in cry.
“Put it on: the entire pack of hounds turned 90 degrees and came to bear.
“The French sabs who were just ahead of us said it was a stag, two hinds and a fawn. So those four deer survived because of that gizmo. I’m still walking on air about it a week later.”
For Mr Moon, who has been hunt sabbing for 35 years, not every day goes as well. He shows a scar on the inside of his right arm where a hunt supporter’s spade severed tendons.
“He was aiming for my head with the spade. It was like it had clipped the door stanch of the Land Rover and dropped a little bit, and went through my elbow and up my face,” he says.
Mr Moon’s journey to hunt sabbing began in 1980 when he first saw a fox hunt.
“I just had no idea this awful thing was happening, and from the moment I saw it, I wanted to be doing something about it.”
He insists there is no typical person who gives up their spare time and risks injury to become a hunt sab: those self-employed in sales, computer technicians, conservationists; `even a Lib Dem councillor has sabbed.
“What unites us is that overwhelming desire to prevent the appalling cruelty that is hunting,” he explains.
Until the fox hunting ban came into force in 2005, hunt sabotage was criminalised.
Mr Moon criticises what he sees as the police’s failure to enforce the hunting ban and prosecute hunters, including for attacks on sabs.
He describes an attack on a “misty morning” in the South Downs when he was beaten in his vehicle by a hunt supported who allegedly threatened to “stick him” with a large knife.
“I was thinking, why are the windscreen wipers working? And I realised it was my own blood spraying up the inside of the windscreen.”
He is quick to stress that these instances of extreme violence are rare.
“It’s probably safer than going for a drink in Croydon town centre on a Saturday night,” he says.
Mr Moon describes another ambush by hunt supporters in 1997, in which he says hunt supporters threw lumps of masonry, fracturing his skull.
“It became very personal after that point. This is one of the reasons I don’t mask up, because I want them to know I’m there.
“I want them to know the injuries over the years have not deterred me. Every time it happens, it just makes me more determined.”
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