The North Cotswold Hunt has been described as ‘one of the most notable of the smaller Hunts’. The earliest record of foxhunting in the North Cotswolds dates back to 1772, when the area was part of the vast hunting ground of the Earls of Berkeley. A link to this period survives in the distinctive primrose collar worn by Hunt members. In 1868 the North Cotswold Hunt was established with the Earl of Coventry maintaining the pack at his own expense. In 1867 it had finally been agreed that the North of the Cotswold country needed a separate pack in order to hunt it efficiently. The Earl of Coventry was the first Master, and as such the source of the coronet on the Hunt button. In 1873 when Lord Coventry stepped down local landowners and businessman agreed to continue and thereby created the subscription pack which remains to this day.

The hunt’s country, which is centred on the town of Broadway, covers some 250 square miles of the northern end of Gloucestershire and the southern corner of Worcestershire. The North Cotswold country, which includes the beautiful rolling hills around Guiting and Kineton, is typical of the Cotswolds’ light land, while heavier pasture predominates in the Vale of Evesham.

The whole North Cotswold area is steeped in hunting tradition and hunting is a major contributor to the local economy. In response to the Hunting Act 2004 the Hunt’s constitution has been amended. Our objectives are now to work for the reintroduction of lawful hunting and to continue breeding foxhounds in order to retain their bloodlines. We will also continue to foster the very biodiversity that we have helped create and conserve for almost 150 years in our small part of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

Visitors who wish to hunt on a horse are most welcome and should made prior arrangements with the hunt Hon. Secretary. 


Mr Oliver Dale Esq MFH

Mrs J Ball  MFH

Chairman - Christopher Houghton
Joint Hon. Sec. -
Gina and Malcolm Mills [email protected]  01386 584 139/ 07789004706
Nancy Blinkhorn - [email protected]
Treasurer - Louise Beach


The North Cotswold Hounds have an illustrious history. The present pack was founded in 1807 by Lord Fitzhardinge (Colonel Berkeley), one of the great names in the history of Hound-breeding: “Fitzhardinge blood” is famous to the present day.

The motto of the Berkeley kennel has always been “breed for WORK rather than LOOKS”, and though at one time all sorts of markings were seen, from lemon, blue pie, to the more orthodox Belvoir tan, yet for performance in the field nothing could surpass the products of this famous establishment. Harry Ayris, who was Lord Fitzhardinge’s huntsman for over forty years, was largely responsible for the excellence of the pack. Berkeley Cromwell, bred by him in 1855, was one of the most noted stallion hounds of his time, and his name comes into many of the pedigrees of the present day. In forming his pack, Lord Fitzhardinge went to the kennels of the Duke of Beaufort, Lord Yarnborough, Lord Fitzwilliam and the Duke of Rutland, these being the four great “family packs” on which the breed of the Foxhound rests; but in his selection of sires he insisted first on honest workers, with plenty of music.

Of Ayris, who joined the staff in 1826, it was said that ‘In this office he has distinguished himself as a most skilful artist, and a determined enemy to a fox; he adopts that sensible and truly hunting idea of Beckford’s of “not intruding his own opinion till the sagacity of the hound is at fault.” If a fox continues above ground, he must be a wonderful good one to beat Harry Ayris and the Berkeley Hounds.’

The fortunes of pack were assured when in 1868 Lord Coventry took the northern part of the Cotswold country, and the North Cotswold Hunt came into being. In Lord Coventry we find a figure in the hunting world almost as notable as Lord Fitzhardinge himself, for the Earl was one of the greatest Hound-breeders of his time. When he re-established the Croome in 1874, which Hunt bore his name during his Mastership, its kennel had the highest reputation. Lord Coventry’s Rambler (1873) was one of the outstanding sires of his time, the blood being much sought after. Here again we come back to Lord Fitzhardinge, for Rambler was by his Collier (1866) out of Lord Henry Bentinck’s Ransom (1868), who was by Mr Henry Chaplin’s Regulus. Thus we have the Berkeley blood combined with that of the Old Bourton, going back to Lord Monson’s sort; and stouter breeding cannot well be imagined. It will suffice to say that at a later date Lord Willoughby de Broke built up the Warwickshire kennel to a very great extent on bitches by Lord Coventry’s Rambler.

On Lord Coventry’s departure to the Croome in 1874, accompanied by his hounds, his successor, Mr Algernon Rushout, had to set about getting a fresh pack together. This he did with the help of Lord Fitzhardinge, the Blankney also supplying some of his needs as did Lord Coventry himself. On resigning the Mastership 23 years later, in 1896, Mr Rushout sold the hounds to his successor, Captain Cyril Stacey.


They were sold again in 1901 to Mr Charles McNeill, whose Mastership is particularly notable for the excellence of the hounds he bred at Broadway. Mr McNeill retained only the bitches and sold the dog hounds to Lord Portman. He then set himself to build a pack of the highest standard, both in field and kennel. Deciding to hunt a bitch pack only, he purchased a further twenty-five couple from the Atherstone, Quorn, Pytchley, Duke of Beaufort’s and Mr Fernie’s. For sires he went principally to Belvoir, and the results in the case of the Atherstone bitches proved the most successful. The well-known authority, Mr Cuthbert Bradley, in his book, The Foxhound of the XXth Century, writes of the North Cotswold at this time: ‘Such was the pack – twenty-five couple of bitches matched in type and colouring, Belvoir in character and outline and remarkable for muscular backs, strong quarters and well-sprung ribs. In chase they were as deep-noted as dog-hounds, and, with nothing older than a five-season hunter, they presented the zenith of beauty and vigour. In the field they were a determined lot of ladies that meant catching their fox at the finish; for a faster era of sport, Mr McNeill carrying the horn, had a Leicestershire air about it, thought the scene was the North Cotswold stone wall country.’ The reference to Leicestershire is particularly apt, for Mr McNeill had previously hunted in the Shires, and had studied the methods of Tom Firr with the Quorn.

Dan Reid, the kennel huntsman at this time, must be given his share of the success of the kennel. Many successes were gained on the flags at Peterborough at this time, the most notable being that of Pilgirm (’05), by Belvoir Handel out of Atherstone Pitiful. When shown at Peterborough by Sir John Hume Campbell and MR C T Scott (Joint Masters), Mr McNeill’s successors, Pilgrim was awarded the Championship for bitches.

On his accession in 1906, Sir John purchased 42 couple of bitches from Mr McNeill for the sum of £3,600. After Sir John’s departure in 1910, Mr Scott carried on alone, hunting hounds himself, having Jack Hewitt as kennel huntsman. Two packs were kept in kennel, small and big bitches, for the hill and vale country respectively, with a few dog-hounds. These were made up of some of Mr McNeill’s old sort, some from the Holderness and a few from Lord Fitzhardinge. In the meantime, Sir John had taken his bitch pack into Berwickshire, but on his giving up the Mastership in 1912 his pack was dispersed, and Mr Scott purchased some and brought them back to Broadway. A lighter type of Hound was now aimed at, standing shorter in the leg than formerly and well ribbed-up; more suitable, in fact for the country.

By 1924 the North Cotswold was under the Mastership of one of the finest amateur huntsmen in the country, Mr Hilton Green. J Thompson was his kennel huntsman at this time. In hound breeding, he used sires from the Duke of Beaufort’s and the Berkeley, which blood he had used previously with great success in the Mendip kennel.

To bring us up to the present, for the last 30 seasons the NCH has been under the joint mastership of Mr & Mrs NDB Peel; the longest mastership and most award laden in the NCH’s history. With numerous Peterborough championship wins, the NCH hounds are greatly admired and used by many packs having achieved recognition and admiration throughout the UK and abroad. In 2010 the Peel's were joined in the mastership by Mrs J Ball Hooker and Mr B Eccles(retired 2010/11). In May 2018 when the Peels retired from the Mastership, Mr O.M. Dale joined Mrs J Ball Hooker and assumed the role of huntsman and joint Master.



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Hunting etiquette, terms, language and signals

The major concern of people wishing to hunt for the first time seems to be a fear of wearing or doing the wrong thing.  Whilst etiquette is important to ensure hunting has an acceptable public image, we hope that people who come to hunt will find us tolerant and helpful. We hope this guide will help you feel more comfortable and confident if you should choose to come out with us for your first experience of hunting. You will not remember all of it, but the more you hunt the more you will realise the reasons for a code of conduct.

As a visitor to the NCH what should I do before coming to a meet mounted?

The first thing to do is telephone the Hunt Secretary and ask if you may join the hunt for the day and check with him/her the amount (cap) you will be required to pay. You can also find out the best place to park and any other matter you are unsure of. He/she will want to help you so don't be afraid to ask questions. Also by "booking in" you can be informed of any last minute changes due to weather, farming problems etc.

Dress code

This is always a difficult one. The first rule is to be dressed tidily and respectfully. Turning out like “an out of work Hamburg seaman is unacceptable” (Master’s description!). Clearly newcomers cannot be expected to wear full hunt dress but being tidy and appropriate to the conditions is the key. Similarly with tack. If you are decked out with tassels and rhinestones you may feel a little out of place but any practical and sensible tack appropriate for the task at hand is acceptable.

During autumn hunting, it is correct for both sexes to wear “Ratcatcher” which in layman’s terms is a tweed jacket along with any sensible neck tie (NCH ties are available through the website) or modestly coloured hunting tie. Technically Ratcatcher should be worn with brown boots and a bowler hat, but most followers now wear the same boots and head gear as for Hunting after opening meet. This is perfectly acceptable.

To be correctly dressed during hunting the following applies:


Black coat or scarlet with primrose collar if you so wish once awarded the hunt buttons by the masters. Hunt Buttons are awarded entirely at the discretion of the masters for long service and helpfulness to the hunt. The masters write a personal letter awarding hunt buttons.  Black coats should be worn with black buttons. These should be plain until awarded the hunt buttons after which the plain buttons should be replaced by the hunt buttons which are available via the hunt website (merchandise section). Scarlet should be worn with brass buttons and a primrose collar. With a black coat buff breeches and black butcher boots are correct. With Scarlet, white breeches and mahogany topped boots are correct. A hunting tie should be worn with the pin placed horizontally for safety.


Much easier! Black or navy blue coats should be worn with black buttons, again plain until hunt buttons are awarded at which time the black collar should be replaced with a primrose collar. Lady Masters never wear red coats, only black, but do sport brass buttons rather than black ones. Ladies should wear buff breeches with plain black butcher boots. Hair should always be tied up and held in a suitable hair net. A hunting tie should be worn with the pin placed horizontally for safety. Ear rings and other piercings. Let’s just not go there!

The numbers of buttons on your coat.

 Subscribers = 3 buttons

Masters who don't hunt hounds = 4 buttons

Huntsman & whip = 5 buttons

In the event that the Hunt has traditional connections to an old aristocratic family and their livery then Huntsman & whip = 6 buttons. This is the case with the NCH given its history and connections with the Earls of Coventry who gave rise to the Coronet on the hunt button.

What should I have in my pockets?

The money for your Cap, a penknife, some baler twine and possibly some food. You may even consider carrying a handkerchief or a bandage for emergencies (traditionally the stock is used for this purpose). If you are a newcomer, or suffer from any medical condition, it is a good idea to carry a printed copy of your details so that we can help you should you have an accident. A mobile phone, for emergencies only, is acceptable but be warned reception in our country is patchy at best.

 Going to the meet

It is much more relaxing to allow plenty of time to get to the meet, as you are more likely to find a convenient place to un-box. Please do not park in gateways or opposite other boxes or vehicles. Where possible ensure vehicles are completely off the road (but never on mown verges) especially on narrow roads, and allow room for agricultural vehicles to pass. Never park in farmyards or around other farm buildings without the express consent of the farmer beforehand.

 What should I do at the meet?

Etiquette demands that you should find the Hunt Secretary and offer him your cap, rather than waiting for him or her to approach you. Similarly you should say good morning to the Joint Masters. The correct greeting being "Good morning Master" (even if you know them personally), whilst ensuring that your horse does not get amongst the hounds. In particular find out who is the Field Master for the day and keep behind him/her and obey his/her instructions. If hospitality has been provided at the meet, be sure to thank your host before you leave.

Is there anything special that my horse should wear?

If you know your horse is liable to kick it should wear a red ribbon at the top of its tail. If it is a young horse and you are not sure of its temperament it should wear a green ribbon.  In both cases they should ALWAYS be kept to the back of the field. If the person in front of you is going through a gateway and has one arm behind their back you should be aware that their horse may kick if you crowd them. A ribbon does not exonerate you from taking responsibility for the actions of you and your horse.


It is traditional to plait ones horse for hunting. There should be an odd number of plaits with the poll plait making an even total. Hogging the mane is another option. The masters have let it be known that whilst plaiting is very smart, it is not compulsory. As a mark of respect horses should be plaited for lawn meets.

 Is there anything I need to know about the hounds?

Do not assume that because your horse does not kick your dog at home that he/she will necessarily tolerate a pack of hounds. Even if he/she will, the huntsman does not know that and you will worry him if you get amongst the hounds. When in the vicinity of hounds always turn your horse’s head towards them to minimise the risk of kicking one. If they do come behind your horse simply drape the thong of your whip over the back of the horse to discourage hounds from getting underneath you. Do not use your whip or voice with the hounds. This is a job for the Huntsman and his staff.

Jumping Etiquette

At all times ride behind the field master. Do not attempt to jump if there is a hound anywhere near a jump. Give Hunt Staff priority and if you know your horse is a poor jumper let others go first. If your horse refuses, clear the jump quickly and let others go before you try again.  This is most important because not only will you impede others, which is bad manners, but you will also hold up the rest of the field, which causes problems for everyone trying to stay up and together with the Field Master. Always meet a jump at right angles to avoid blocking others. When jumping hedges this is particularly important. Stay straight from at least 15 strides out so as not to impede others behind and adjacent. If you break a jump make sure it is stock proof before you go on (this is where you might need that baler twine) and ensure you report the breakage to a Master or Hunt Secretary. If you attempt a gate or wall and break it you will be expected to pay for it.

If someone in the field falls or a horse is hurt please stop to help. If required call for additional support and back-up. In all cases if someone needs to re-mount, wait by them to help their horse to stand still. If you see a problem is adequately taken care of please pass slowly and then continue on. This allows the rest of the field to keep up and prevents bottlenecks.

 Do I have to jump?

No. Whilst we try to put in as much jumping as possible a lot will depend on the area being hunted and the ground conditions. There are nearly always easy ways round a jump and a number of people don't jump at all. There is usually someone to follow particularly on Saturdays when we try to have a non jumping field master. Be sure to find him/her at the meet. Never open a gate adjacent to a jump until after all the jumpers have gone. This is extremely dangerous, inviting jumping horses to dip out of jumping at the last minute.


If in doubt it is better to shut a gate than to leave it open. We have gate shutters (in ratcatcher with white arm bands) who follow the field but they cannot be relied upon to shut all gates left open. They are a safety net and not a guarantee that all gates will be shut. It is your responsibility to shut the gate or call back “gate please”. In the event that riders behind are out of earshot a raised whip or hand is the method of communication. Do not leave the gate until you have heard “gate please” passed back or a whip or hand has been raised in acknowledgment. It is the duty of all members of the field to assist the Masters and hunt staff at gates. If you see them approaching a gate a word to the field master for consent to go forward is all that is required and then speedy assistance so as not to hold them up in their work. It is of course easier for children and young adults to jump of their mounts to help. Please bear this in mind if you fall into this category. If you do this repeatedly you are more likely to be awarded your hunt buttons!

Riding near or through livestock and farmland

When riding near or through livestock ensure you are between the stock and the fence and ride at a speed they will tolerate without getting upset. If stock bunch up in a corner, stop and wait for them to move out. You should not enter any field without the Field Master unless instructed to do so. Take particular care at gates when there is stock in the field. If you witness stock escaping make sure you tell the field master or secretary immediately.

If there is an option between a track/path and grass/planted crops always ride on the track unless specifically instructed to do otherwise.

The current system of subsidies and farm practices is complicated. Always be aware of instructions coming from the field master. “Single file” means exactly that and as importantly along the same line as the field master. Sometimes this may not be along the line you may expect. Under some stewardship schemes for example you may not be allowed to ride on the headland and the field master may require you to ride in single file between the headland and the cropped area. In the event you get left behind look for the line of the hoof prints.

End of the day

It is important to remember that without a huntsman and his hounds there would be no sport. A thank you goes a long way in helping these people feel appreciated, especially Hunt Staff who will probably be cold, wet and tired at the end of the day. It is traditional to say "Goodnight" at the end of your day.

Did you fall off, get shouted at?

Don't worry, we've all been there. It's all part of becoming an experienced horseman/woman!

General Etiquette

It is surprising how many people leave their manners on the ground when they get on a horse. Please thank cars for slowing down, wave cars on when you see the Masters wave them on and keep to the nearside if you hear the shout "car please". A smile and "good morning" to people on foot will help to dispel the myth that everyone on horseback is a snob and too good to talk to people on foot.



If you are a visitor or a new comer to hunting and this all sounds complicated and scary don’t worry the members of the hunt aren’t and will always be willing to help you. Never be afraid to ask for advice.

Be warm and dry

Be clean and smart

Be courteous

At all times remember that you are a guest of the farmer or Landowner and that without their goodwill hunting would not be possible.

The North Cotswold Hunt acts in a way consistent with the laws as set out in the Hunting Act 2004


Have fun, that's what you are there for, and we want you to enjoy yourself and come back again.



Autumn Hunting

The early part of hunting from August until the Opening Meet usually on the first Saturday in November.

Babbler or babbling

A hound that speaks when it is not hunting is said to be a babbler or babbling.


Female hound

Bye Day

An additional hunting day not on the fixture card. Often at the end of the season.

By Invitation

This sometimes appears on the meet card of a hunt that has been invited to hunt in another hunt's country.


A daily charge to come out hunting

"Car Please"

Is shouted to tell the Field to keep to the left to let cars through on the road.


When the hounds are looking for the line. The huntsman may cast the hounds towards where he thinks the hounds will pick it up.


When the hounds lose the line.


Hounds are counted in couples.( i.e. one hound, a couple, a couple and a half, two couples, etc.) Couples are also two collars linked on a chain and can be seen hanging on the hunt staffs' saddles.


Pronounced cover. A patch of wood or undergrowth where the trail layer may commence his line.

Cur Dog

A canine which is not a hound.


Male hound


An entered hound is a hound that has done a season's hunting. An unentered hound is one that has not yet hunted a full season


Hounds are said to feather or be feathering when they have the line but are unable to speak to it.


The mounted followers.

Field Master

The person in charge of leading and controlling the Field. Always follow the field master and never ride in front.


Any smell or disturbed ground which spoils the line.

"Gate Please"

Shouted backwards on going through a gate which should be closed. If this is not acknowledged by a raised hand shut the gate.

Gate shutter

A person specially designated to shut gates and mend fences. Sometimes wears a white armband. Even when these people are present you should shut gates where necessary.

"Good Morning"

The appropriate greeting at the meet.

"Good Night"

The appropriate salutation for the end of the day even if it was an Autumn Hunting morning which ended before midday.

Green Ribbon

Worn on the tail of a young horse.

Hand behind the back

Means this horse might kick.

Hand in the air by gateway

Signal to people coming towards a gate, but out of hearing, that the gate should be shut. The response to which should be to hold your hand in the air to show you have got the message and will shut the gate. If in any doubt shut the gate.


Hounds are said to be hunting heel when they hunt the reverse direction to the route of the quarry.

"Hold Hard"

Shouted by the Field Master to stop the field overtaking him/her.


Pronounced holler. A loud sound made by the voice to indicate the sighting of the quarry. The use of this should be restricted to experienced members of the hunt. Sometimes the holloa may be replaced by a whistle. In either case the cap should be removed and pointed along with the horses head in the direction the quarry was sighted. You may hear the huntsman call "Hoic holloa" this indicates that he has heard the holloa but needs it to be repeated to get his bearings.

Hot bitches

In season bitches.


All scent hunting dogs are referred to as hounds. It is the duty of mounted followers to keep out of the way of the hounds, not vice versa.


The man who hunts the hounds. There is only one huntsman on the hunting field per day, he may also be a Master, and he has absolute right of way at all times.


A hunting day usually consists of 3 - 5 hunts, each hunt being 2 - 5 miles long. Sometimes incorrectly referred to as "runs" or "lines".

Hunt Button & Collar

Subscribers who have over a period of time gained knowledge and been helpful to the hunt may be awarded the hunt button and collars of the hunt. The buttons are black with the NCH letters and coronet. The collars are Primrose for Ladies and black for Gentlemen, unless to worn with a scarlet coat in which case a primrose collar is appropriate.

Hunting Tie

Not to be confused with a normal neck tie worn during autumn hunting. Ready made hunting ties are permissible but a full length single or four fold tie is preferable both for the sake of appearance and, more significantly, in the event it is needed as a bandage or sling. It is also recommended that the ends of the tie be secured to the shirt with safety pins to prevent the ends flapping in the wind. Ties should be secured with a tie pin placed horizontally which should have an end cap if required for safety. Modestly coloured ties should be worn with Ratcatcher. Otherwise plain white or cream is correct. For help with tying try this video.

Hunt Staff

The people responsible for working the hounds. i.e. Huntsman and Whippers in. They may be Masters, amateurs or professionals.

"Kick on"

You may get this response when you make way for a Master or Huntsman at a gate or jump. It means you don't have to wait for him/her and should carry on.

Lawn Meet

A meet where refreshments are provided by someone, usually the owner of the property where the meet is taking place. This person should be thanked by everyone as they leave the meet. Good etiquette dictates that horses should be plaited for lawn meets.


The scent left by the trail layers.

"Loose Horse"

Shouted when someone has fallen off and the horse is running away.


Maybe a Joint Master. These are the people responsible for the running of the hunt and particularly for liaison with the farmers and landowners. They should have right of way at all times second only to the hunt staff.

"Master/Huntsman/Whip/Hound please"

This means give way to these people as they have a job to do. If it is heard on a road or a track everyone should get to one side, not line both sides. Always turn your horses head toward hounds when in proximity to avoid the risk of kicking a hound. A very bad crime.

"Master/Huntsman/Whip/Hound on the right/left"

This means the Master/Whip/Hound should be let through on the side shouted. The side corresponding to the direction of travel of the majority of the Field. This is not an instruction to hold your whip in a specific hand!

Mixed Pack

A pack consisting of dogs and bitches


A hound which hunts without speaking is mute

Opening Meet

The start of formal hunting.


A job given to a whip or senior member of the hunt to ride out wide looking for signs of the quarry.

Point to Point

A days racing over fences organised by the hunt as a fund raising activity and as a way of repaying the generosity of the farming community.


A hound which is new to hunting that season. It will appear fully grown.


Term used to describe the official dress for mounted followers during Autumn Hunting and consists of a Tweed jacket as opposed to a black jacket. Ratcatcher is also an acceptable form of dress after the Opening Meet.

Red Ribbon

Worn on the tale of a known kicker. These horses should be kept at the back of the field until they become educated and no longer need to wear a ribbon.

Riot or rioting

When hounds hunt something other than that which they are supposed to be hunting, they are rioting


Usually the Honorary Hunt Secretary (unpaid) who deals with day to day inquiries from subscribers and those wishing to hunt on a daily basis. Visitors should seek this person out at the meet and offer to pay their cap to them.


 “Single file please”

Shouted when the Field is required to ride in single file close to the fence boundary of a field in order to protect crops or sensitive grassland.

Speak or speaking

Hounds do not bark, they speak or are speaking when they are "on the line" (hunting a scent).


A hound's tail.


Someone who pays an annual subscription to hunt with a pack of hounds. Subscriptions should be paid as early as possible and at the very latest by Opening Meet.

Tally Ho

A term used by the huntsman in addition to his horn to encourage his hounds onto the line of the quarry. “Tally ho back” or “Tallyho over” are calls made by experienced members of the hunt only who have viewed the quarry moving in a particular direction as  information to the huntsman.


This is the act of riding cross country usually over jumps when not engaged in following the hounds. This should never be done unless following the field master who in unusual circumstances may wish to entertain the mounted field.


Hounds at walk, often known as Puppy Walking, is where whelps are sent to private homes, in minimums of two's, from the age of eight weeks until they get too big and boisterous for the walkers, at which point they return to kennels to learn how to fit in to the pack.

"Ware Hole/Wire/Glass"

Ware is often pronounced "War" and means beware. Therefore if you hear "War 'ole", or "Ware 'ole" it actually means mind out there is a hole in the ground coming up! Similarly any other hazard.


A new born hound is a whelp and remains so until it come back from walk.

Whip in the air (usually by Field Master)

This means stand still where you are, not wait until you get level with the Field Master and then stop.

Whipper in (Whip)

The person who helps the huntsman control the hounds. This person has right of way at all times and will only give way to the Huntsman.