with Horse and Hound

Close Encounters with My Vulpine Friends

James Barclay was born to foxhunting. He, his sister, two brothers, mother, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all served as Masters of Foxhounds—a family way of life that began in 1896. James served as Master of five hunts from 1983 to 2012: the Essex and Suffolk, Fitzwilliam, Cottesmore, South Wold, and Grove and Rufford. Click for a fuller introduction to James Barclay in Norm Fine’s Blog.


With over two hundred years involvement with various packs and types of hounds under our belt, you will understand it was and always will be the number one rule in the Barclay family to have the greatest respect for our quarry species, be it the fox, deer, or hare. The pleasure they give us is immense, and this comes from not only close observation on a hunting day but during the summer months when they are all, in their own distinctive ways, equally fascinating.

It is the fox, however, that has taken up a very large part of my life, and hardly a day passes when he doesn’t enter my mind in one way or another. And more than likely he will be discussed at some point, especially when he is being blamed for eating someone’s prime poultry! Whenever foxes are talked about, however, it is generally with a large degree of affection, except of course on the day a heinous crime has been committed in his role as the ruthless killer!

My pleasure in writing this has come from looking back and remembering moments when my vulpine friends have behaved in ways that remain etched on my mind. In the past, I have recollected their somewhat strange habits after the death of a particularly well-loved character. This enters another realm, although there are places where both realms meet and it is then when it really does become all the more fascinating!

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