Drag hunting is a note-worthy alternative to live fox hunting, and has been heavily considered as a possible replacement in the wake of the Hunting Act. Originally developed as a method of testing the speed of individual hounds, drag hunting involves having a person with a piece of cloth dipped in a solution of aniseed and urine of a person or animal so that it leaves a potent smell in its trail. This person, known as the “Linelayer” or “Dragman”, sets out roughly half an hour before the drag hunt takes place, moving along a pre-determined route, typically for two to three miles. A daily drag hunt typically does not last very long, going on for about a couple of hours, despite the fact that the lines are laid up to five times a day. This is due to the time cut from needing to cast the dogs to find a new scent.
Although there is little difference between drag hunting and real fox hunting, many supporters of fox hunting have a number of issues with the alternative. In fact, as reported by the Burns Report, only 14% of fox hunters polled would consider switching to drag hunting following the ban. Supporters of fox hunting have claimed that there is no sense of spontaneity in a drag hunt, and there is less need skill needed to control horse and hounds, making the alternative less attractive. However, depending on the solution used to prepare the scent, it’s possible to cause the scent to be more likely to throw off the hounds, making the trail and the hunt less predictable. Despite this, drag hunting has not been widely accepted by the hunting community.