Drone footage proves ‘no trail laid’ by Cheshire Hunt

Cheshire Independent Hunt Monitors (or the Cheshire Indies as they’re usually known) are an independent monitoring group working across the northwest of England. They focus on the Cheshire Hunt, Cheshire Forest Hunt, and the notorious Wynnstay Hunt (a hunt that has regularly featured on Protect the Wild eg see here).

In November 2023 Protect the Wild provided the ‘Indies’ with funds to buy a drone, a serious purchase for us to make bearing in mind the cost and the fact that Protect the Wild has a responsibility to our supporters and their donations. As we reported in “Putting an ‘eye in the sky’ on Cheshire’s Hunts”, though, the group (who undertook extensive training on drone flying) were confident that their ‘eye in the sky’ would make a huge difference to their ability to track the hunts across the huge areas of farmland and open country they were using.

That confidence has already borne fruit!

Just last weekend, the ‘Indies’ recorded excellent footage which showed beyond any doubt (and in sharp, high-res 4k) that contrary to hunts’ claims of so-called ‘trail hunting’ in actual fact hunting now looks very much like it did before the Hunting Act banned hunting with hounds almost twenty years ago: the hounds running wherever they want, riders arrogantly blocking roads and stopping traffic to allow hounds to cross from one field to the next, and – as they break through hedges and across a road – proving the impossibility of a scent trail being followed.

While more footage is being sorted through to provide to the police, the ‘Indies’ have released the clip and explanation below as a good example of a hunt operating behind the ‘smokescreen’ of ‘trail hunting’.

  • NOTE that this video clip is not graphic and does not include a kill or (somewhat surprisingly) a traffic accident involving the hunt hounds.



“𝗧𝗼 𝘀𝗲𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗰𝗲𝗻𝗲

This is footage of the Cheshire Hunt recorded on 13 Jan 2023.

No trail has been laid here. The hounds were only in these fields because they had escaped the huntsman’s control.

The huntsman found and collected the hounds then put them on the line of a fox that had passed anti hunt activists minutes earlier.

The hounds picked up the fox’s scent and began to chase.

The huntsman didn’t stop them. Instead he hunted them on with his horn and returned to the road.

And off the hounds went, left alone to chase a fox.

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 the footage shows

From the bottom left anti hunt activists are seen running in, rating hounds off [ie using commands to stop them] as best as they can.

The hounds split and then join back up from two directions because some hounds mark at a hedge [ie the hounds ‘mark’ or indicate where a fox has gone to ground, or in this case fled through the hedge].

Desperate to keep on the line of the fox as they’ve been taught, the hounds try to break through the hedge. Some manage it, falling into the path of oncoming traffic on a 60mph road. Many don’t.

As the drone watches from overhead, the huntsman Robert Truscott and whipper in Craig Maggs enter from the left.

Craig Maggs dismounts from his horse and retrieves something from his saddle to cut the hedge with.

A stray hound picked up by the hunt’s personal dog warden is let out of a black pick up which pulls up behind Maggs and Truscott.

The hounds are allowed to continue on the fox’s line on the other side of the road.

The other hunt masters and field arrive. The whole hunt departs with hounds scattered everywhere and absolutely no one in control of them.

The traffic held up by this scene of illegal hunting is finally able to pass.

This isn’t trail hunting. This is fox hunting. And the criminality is being exposed one meet at a time.

Independent anti hunt activists, who are incredibly thankful to Protect the Wild for funding this drone, are exploring many different ways of collecting evidence of illegal hunting in Cheshire with this drone.”


There is no doubt at all what is happening here – an illegal fox hunt – and it is a scene that is repeated over and over again throughout the so-called ‘hunt season’. We will report back if Cheshire Police take action.

Thanks to Cheshire ‘Indies’ for permission to use their footage and text. Protect the Wild is proud to support groups like the Cheshire ‘Indies’ and help promote what they are doing to the more than 30,000 people who will see this post. It is exactly why we set up our Equipment Fund, and why we are currently discussing an idea with groups to extend our support even more.

We are able to do this because of YOUR support. Thank you.


While all our content here on Substack is free, if you do choose to take out a paid subscription (and a paid sub starts at just £3.50/month) any money we do receive is ringfenced and used to buy equipment to put ‘eyes in the field’ – or in this case ‘eyes in the sky’. It’s a simple idea – but the best ideas usually are! If you’d like to know more we have explained it all in our post “What do we mean by “Empowering people to protect British wildlife“?

With your support we will be giving out many more pieces of equipment to unfunded volunteer groups like the Cheshire ‘Indies’ over the coming months and years. And we will always keep you up to date with how your support is directly helping wildlife!

If you’re an individual or organization working in the field and would like to apply to our fund please read our T&Cs here first and use the online application form on the same page.