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Fox Hunting

A-hunting we will go,
A-hunting we will go,
We'll catch a fox
And put him in a box,
And then we'll let him go.
— English traditional song

Fox Hunting was once a favorite sport of the upper-class, involving the use of a pack of trained hounds followed by uniformed hunters on horseback, pursuing the elusive quarry at high speed.

This type of sport-hunting was popularized among the British aristocracy in the 18th century, and was adopted by their imitators around the world. The enclosure of British farms that happened around this time made hedges and stone walls common obstacles to the pursuit. Unlike with stag-hunting, which it largely replaced, killing the fox after capturing it (let alone feasting on it) was often considered unnecessary.

In recent decades, attitudes toward the sport have shifted and it's typically seen as cruel and inhumane; the United Kingdom made it illegal in 2004, and it doesn't show up in fiction quite as often as it did before the 1950's. Although, there were still plenty of fictional depictions even back then which made the audience sympathize with the fox.


Examples

Comics
  • One Lucky Luke story has a Quintessential British Gentleman and his butler seek their fortune in the Far West, the butler makes repeated mention of having witnessed a fox hunt that ended in the manor library.
  • One story in Roger the Dodger had him finding a fox and having to smuggle it past some fox hunters (this was around the time the ban was being campaigned for).
  • X-Men when Mastermind was using his illusions to bring Jean Grey into the Hellfire Club, one of the setpieces was a fox hunt—with a human quarry.
  • The Invisibles has a gang of evil aristocrats who hunt down and kill their enemies while dressed in fox-hunting gear.

Film
  • Disney's Mary Poppins. After Mary, Bert and the children jump into one of Bert's sidewalk chalk drawings, they end up riding horses that were originally on a merry-go-round. They encounter a fox hunt, and Bert saves the fox (who has an Oirish accent) from the hounds.
  • Omen 3: The Final Conflict. During a fox hunt, two of the priests hunting Damien Thorn try to attack him. He uses his demonic powers to control the hounds and make them kill one of the priests.
  • At the end of their short "Ants in the Pantry", The Three Stooges go fox hunting with the rich socialites they'd been hired by to exterminate pests in their house. Curly has a cold, and picks up a skunk thinking it's a fox. Moe and Larry pass out due to the smell, as does their horse.

Literature
  • In Auntie Mame, Uncle Beau has a fox hunt, which Mame wins by accident.
  • Doctor Dolittles Circus has Doctor Dolittle very much against this pastime. He eventually gives the foxes an invention of his, in the form of foul-smelling chemicals with a scent that dogs cannot stand.
  • Bertie Wooster's Aunt Dahlia was an enthusiastic hunter in her youth, retaining a powerful voice that could be heard across several counties without the benefit of a telephone.
  • In The Plague Dogs, the tod is eventually caught and killed by hounds.
  • In one chapter of The Mallorean the party sees a fox hunt in Melcena. Durnik wonders why they bother - since there aren't any farms in Melcena, there's no real need to hunt down and kill foxes. Silk says it's even sillier: The fox isn't native to the archipelago, so the hunters have to import the foxes before they can hunt them down.

Live-Action Television
  • The Goodies episode "Hunting Pink" is about Tim becoming obsessed with fox hunting.
  • An episode of CSI NY had a teenaged girl who'd recently accompanied a more well off friend on a fox hunt in Britain as the Victim of the Week (while hunts still go on, they use scent trails rather than foxes and although they did mention they were illegal they implied the ban was being flouted). Said friend killed her because she was jealous her father paid more attention to the friend.
  • In the British "adult" puppet show Mongrels Nelson's grandfather was killed in a fox hunt.
  • Northern Exposure: Maurice tries to entertain a visiting British noblewoman by having a fox hunt, but a group of activists rescue the fox before the scheduled hunt. Ed volunteers to be a human fox for the hunt.
  • In Top Gear the guys staged a fox hunt using a small SUV in place of the fox, sadly the SUV proved inferior to an actual fox as the hunt caught them and Jeremy was killed and eaten by the hounds.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Discussed in the story "Survival"; the Doctor and Ace meet Ange, who's collecting for a group of hunt saboteurs. Rather than contribute, the Doctor takes the opportunity to contrast the 'noise and pantomime' of foxhunting with the stealthy predator he's beginning to suspect is preying on the local population.
    • In "The Horns of Nimon", Romana is wearing a fox-hunting outfit, although it's not stated whether she knows what it is.

Toys

Video Games
  • Sir You Are Being Hunted features one class of robot hunter that wears traditional hunt garb and rides a jet-powered horse, placing the player in the role of the fox.

Western Animation
  • The Droopy short "Out-Foxed" involves a sophisticated British fox outsmarting the foolish hounds chasing it - until Droopy mentions the steak bounty for catching a fox, at which point dozens of foxes surrender themselves to Droopy in exchange for a share of the meat.
  • The Casper the Friendly Ghost short "There's Good Boos Tonight". The cute little fox's eventual death is a treated as a Tear Jerker...and his return as a ghost is an Esoteric Happy Ending.
  • Two Looney Tunes cartoons featured fox hunting: 1943's "Of Foxes And Hounds" and 1952's "Foxy By Proxy".
  • There have been three Classic Disney Shorts' about fox hunting: The Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short "The Fox Chase", the Silly Symphony "The Fox Hunt" and the Donald Duck and Goofy cartoon also called "The Fox Hunt". All three have the same punchline: the main character catches a Smelly Skunk instead, and the hunting party scatters.
  • In the Futurama episode "30th Century Fox", Bender joins a fox hunting party, which Leela protests against. But when the fox turns out to be a robot, Leela drops her objections, while Bender is aghast and turns against the hunters. When he sabotages the hunt by hiding the fox, the hunters decide to hunt Bender instead.
  • The Terrytoons Deputy Dawg short "Friend Fox" has the canine sheriff defending a helpless little fox from a hunting party. His selfless actnote  is not without consequences, however...