In 1909, sheep farmers in Lennoxtown and surrounding districts were alarmed at the numbers of sheep and lambs being killed, allegedly by foxes. At Ballagan, Mr. Craig lost 23 lambs; Blairtummoch 20; Knowehead about 20; and the Craigend and Glenside flocks were also reduced. The sheep farmers of Fintry and Ballinkinrain, and those between Killearn and Strathblane, were also deploring the ravages among their flocks. It was reckoned that in their area 100 lambs had been killed.
As a result, an all out assault was agreed upon, and the biggest Fox Hunt ever seen in the district was planned, and took place in April 1909. The hunt was organized with military precision, and a great deal of effort went into ensuring that each man knew exactly what part he would play in the drive.
It was decided that the drive would take place, in wet or dry weather. The ground covered included an area of about 40 square miles, stretching from Ballinkinrain in the north to Ballagan in the south, Craigbarnet in the south east, Ballencleroch in Campsie, Culcruech in Fintry district, Ballewan, Duntreath and Lettre in the south west and west.
Attached to the Craigbarnet and Duntreath sections were some 40 boy scouts from the Lenzie and Blanefield Troops of Scouts, who were spread through the beaters to act as signallers.
Each party followed precise instructions as to when and where they had to beat, and when to advance. The objective was to drive the foxes towards Earls Seat, where a line of men with guns would be waiting. The drive started at 9am, and it was planned that by 12.30pm, all parties would be ready to move on Earls Seat. Anyone sighting the 'earth' was instructed to report immediately to the keeper in charge of his section. he would seal the 'earth', and a reliable gun man would be left in charge of the spot.
The first fox was sighted by the right flank of the Craigbarnet section, which was extended east of Finn Glen, and immediately another fox was sighted by the same party. Both foxes made for their 'earth' well up in the glen, and in accordance with instructions, this was secured by a reliable gun who was left in charge. Another fox was driven on to the guns at Earls Seat, but although two shots were fired, they missed the target.
When all guns, scouts, beaters, and keepers arrived at Earls Seat, they had some refreshments before the Scouts secured the 'earths' with terriers. On the way back, the Ballinkinrain section shot a fine specimen of a dog fox and wounded another. They discovered the den, where they secured 5 cubs.
Following this hunt, Reynard still visited the district, but it was reported that "although his depridations have not been so serious this last fortnight, a strict watch is still being kept. Last Tuesday, Mr. Sangster, head gamekeeper at Lennox Castle, was successful in killing a fine specimen of a dog fox on the cattle moor, near the boundary with Craigmaddie. Mr. Cameron, the shepherd at Balcarroch Farm, shot a dog fox and three cubs, and Mr. Gibson, of Glorat, secured the vixen. The lair was located and raided, and Mr. McAdam, the gamekeeper at Cappieston, caught 2 young cubs, which were kept alive and sold to agents who looked after the sport of fox-hunting."
It was assumed that the Fells had been cleaned out of foxes, but one night the shrill bark of one was heard on the face of the hill, and indication that another unwelcome visitor was searching for food. It was thought, however, that it only paid a short visit to the local hills.
Of the 120 people who took part in the drive, none were injured. The services of the Scouts were highly appreciated, and the hunt was thought to have proved a first-class training for them! The question that springs to mind is - for what?
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