/Queen legend Brian May joins Boxing Day clean boot hunt in Swansea

Queen legend Brian May joins Boxing Day clean boot hunt in Swansea

Queen legend Brian May spent his Boxing Day morning in Swansea as he travelled down from London in the early hours of the morning to show his support to a “humane hunt”.

The lead guitarist was in Wind Street to be on hand for the Three Counties Bloodhounds’ annual Clean Boot hunt, which has been taking place for the last four years.

Instead of chasing a fox, riders on horseback and a team of hounds chase a human runner over a predetermined route in a legal, cruelty-free event that is seen by some as the legitimate future of hunting.

A leading animal rights campaigner, the 72-year-old founded the Save Me Trust in 2010 and among its missions since has campaigned against Government attempts to repeal or dis-empower The Hunting Act of 2004.

After having a quick drink at No Sign Wine Bar, he followed the start of the hunt, being led by Byron John, on a horse and trap, waving to the cheering crowds who lined the streets to get a glimpse of the event.

Brian May gives a thumbs up to the crowds who lined the streets to see the start of the hunt
(Image: Jonathan Myers)

Discussing his support of the event and why he became involved, May told WalesOnline: “There was a moment of hesitation because we have been working on opposing the hunting of creatures for cruel sports and we had to be very sure that’s what was not happening here.

“As soon as we met Byron, you just have to look at this man’s face and into his eyes and you realise he’s a humane man and also a very brave man because he’s breaking away from a tradition at the same time as supporting a tradition of horsemanship and country sports. He is a leader.

“We felt we should support him because this is the future and the acceptable humane face of hunting. It’s cast iron. There is no doubt. There are no dogs being trained with fox scent or questionable activities going on here.

“There’s a lot of shameful things going on and a lot of dishonesty out there and this is about honesty and humaneness and also not being a spoil sport, because this is great sport.

“It’s wonderful. I really wish I did ride myself, I never had that pleasure, there weren’t any horses where I was brought up, sadly. One of my daughters used to ride and she’s hoping to come down next year with Byron’s permission, but all we can do is come down here and support.”

Mr May described it as a “process of education.”

People inside No Sign Bar hoping to catch a glimpse of Brian May ahead of the hunt
(Image: Jonathan Myers)
The Queen guitarist is pictured alongside Byron John, the Master of the ‘clean boot’ hunt
(Image: Jonathan Myers)

The Three Counties Bloodhounds was set up in Wales in 2013 by founders and masters Byron John and Kate Pickard.

It strives to have a friendly and welcoming clean boot pack in the locality.

The Three Counties Bloodhounds members hunt on a Sunday throughout the winter between October and April and also enjoy participating in activities such as Team Showjumping and Inter Hunt relays.

Hunting with Bloodhounds is the only legal way of hunting a mammal, that being the scent of a human runner followed by a mounted field across a variety of terrain.

Its website says: “Hunting with bloodhounds proves as a faster paced enjoyable sport, whereby hounds simulate the chase. Usually the day will be split into three ‘lines’, whereby the hounds are held for breath whilst the quarry runs his next line.”

“Our people were suspicious of us joining Byron, but now you look at our social media and everyone gets it and the idea is very concrete in everyone’s minds now,” he said.

“This is humane and the other kind of hunting is not. You have to keep telling it as it is for a while before people accept it. We would like to see the countryside retain its traditions in a way that is justifiably morally.

“There are a lot of traditions which have to be given up after a while – like burning witches at the stake. Tradition is not really a justification to carry on doing what you’re doing but you can adapt those traditions and still give people what they want – horse riding and husbandry of the dogs is a wonderful thing, it’s a great tradition.

“These, of course, are blood hounds and not fox hounds. Everybody has a lot of fun, and the result is a man gets licked.”

The hounds arrive on Wind Street
(Image: Jonathan Myers)
The “clean boot” hunt gets underway along Wind Street
(Image: Jonathan Myers)
Brian May pictured at Brangwyn Hall with council leader Rob Stewart earlier this year
(Image: Jonathan Myers)

It’s not the first time the music legend has been in Swansea in recent times. In November last year, together with Swansea Council, he launched the Gower Project , aimed at eliminating bovine TB from land in the area with the aim of saving cattle and badgers.

“Like everything else, it’s bumpy,” he said, giving an update on the project.

“We’re on course and we’re hoping to be a part of a scheme to rid the Gower of TB and of course we now have a huge amount of new evidence from our project team that TB can be eradicated from farms without killing any wildlife.

“TB is not being eradicated by the conventional strategy of the government. Culling badgers will never solve the problem. Whereas attention to slurry and hygiene on the farm and identifying the channels through which the infection passes will in fact solve the problem.”

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