No, I don't hunt. I have never hunted. I have no intention of hunting.
Indeed, I struggle to understand its appeal. However, I totally oppose a ban on hunting.
I was one of the 400,000 who, on September 22 last year, marched through London for Liberty and Livelihood. We marched silently past the Cenotaph, remembering those who had made the ultimate sacrifice so we could enjoy the freedom of this green and pleasant land.
I was also at the Honiton showground in Devon on November 1 this year, the Countryside Alliance's Declaration Day. And yes, I signed the declaration that I will not recognise a law that bans hunting.
Why? On one Saturday in February 2001, the lives of everyone in the rural communities of Devon, my adopted home for the past 15 years, were to change for ever.
Foot-and-mouth was confirmed at Highampton, a few miles from my own farmland in Jacobstowe. In the weeks that followed, the disease spread. It was overtaken only by the panic of ignorant and incompetent Government officials and manipulative, self-serving politicians.
Throughout that bleak, smokeladen spring the stench of death hung over my beloved Devon. Each dawn was greeted with the crack of the slaughterman's gun, and the nights lit by flames. The funeral pyres consumed not just bodies but centuries of bloodlines and the toil of generations of industrious and compassionate farmers.
Millions of healthy animals were slaughtered in a cull that has since been highly criticised by the EU, which said the British Government broke animal welfare laws and issued a directive to prevent such things happening again.
At least one thing Brussels has got right.
It was clear to any sane individual that the slaughter of healthy animals was an act of futile brutality. So, as Ministry officials and slaughtermen dashed around the countryside, they encountered increasing resistance.
Inevitably, the only way they could continue their mindless killing was to be accompanied by the police.
Thousands of officers who took an oath to serve Queen and country, uphold the law, protect the weak and vulnerable and dedicate their lives to society were manipulated by callous politicians. Dressed in their riot gear, escorting the killers on to an Exmoor farm owned by a 70-year-old man, what must those officers have felt? Was that really what they joined the force to do?
Well, next year, because of the politicians, the police may again be ordered out to enforce the unenforceable; to earn the contempt of communities and to lose the respect of decent, law-abiding men, women and children. The police have an unenviable task ahead, and it is not they but we who should express anger towards those who have created this intolerable situation.
At the time of foot-and-mouth I spoke out against incompetent Agriculture Minister Nick Brown and formed a support service for all rural businesses. …