Newcomers to fieldsports got their first taste of hunting last week, when hunts nationwide threw open their doors to those with an interest in finding out more about the country pursuit. A year and a half after the introduction of the ban on the traditional form of the fieldsport, packs of all descriptions gave people the opportunity to try exempt hunting, to learn more about the way hunts work and the role they play in the British countryside.

New research released by the Countryside Alliance (CA) has shown that 34 per cent of those hunts contacted had actually recorded an increase in subscriptions since the passing of the Hunting Act, while 90 per cent of hunts reported the same or higher levels of support. Alastair Jackson, director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, was enthusiastic about the interest hunts have received:

?Newcomers? week has been very well supported and nearly all hunts have given people who ride ? and those who don?t ? the opportunity to hunt and see what it?s all about. Most hunts have had formal newcomers? days; those that haven?t simply welcomed newcomers on any of the days they were out this week, to see how hunting operates within the law. Past experience has shown that there is always a good take-up of people as a result of these days, people who then stick with hunting. We sincerely hope that this continues.?