Background

European Hunters' Day & St.Hubert

In previous years, hunters, shooters and anglers have celebrated the annual European Hunters Day, centering around the feast day of the patron saint of hunting on 3 November, St.Hubert which sees Europeans taking part in various festivities. Traditionally celebrated by hundreds of thousands of hunters across Europe and beyond: by attending special masses or services during which the Patron Saint of hunters is honoured, people and animals are blessed, or simply by respecting a few moments of silence to reflect on the roles and responsibilities of hunters towards nature. 

This year, national hunting associations from across Europe held events that brought people together to celebrate their common hunting heritage. The day is not just a celebration, as it aims to raise awareness and increase understanding of the intrinsic link between hunters and conservation:

Belgium’s Royal Saint-Hubert Club held Belgian celebrations on Saturday 3 November which included a hunting festival on the central Place du Grand Sablon from 10.00-18.00 followed by the traditional St.Hubert Mass which included the horn-blowers of the Belgian St.Hubert Royal Circle as they celebrated their 130th anniversary.

Ireland’s plans for European Hunters’ Day involved similar festivities and blessings being organised, building on their well-profiled previous celebrations. The National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) – Member of FACE, hosted an extensive public celebration for hunters and anglers from all over the island of Ireland near the centre of the country at Abbeyleix Manor, County Laois, for hunting and angling enthusiasts. 

In Ireland, some 300,000 people are involved in hunting: one of the highest participation rates per capita in the EU. Hundreds of hunting representatives from both the north and south of Ireland, along with local fishing clubs, were present at the event.

Amongst them were variety of public figures, including John McGuinness of the Irish Parliament and Chairman of its important Public Accounts Committee, who encouraged hunters to engage with political representatives to explain their activities so that sustainable hunting is better understood at government level.  He acknowledged that fieldsports are very important to the countryside and noted in particular how valuable hunting is to Ireland financially, making a contribution of over 100 million Euros to the economy annually.

FACE’s Senior Policy Advisor and long-time former Secretary General, Yves Lecocq, affirmed the continued support of the European organisation and the 7 million hunters it represents across Europe for Irish hunting.  He traced the history of FACE, with the late Jim Cummins from Cork as one of the founding fathers back in 1977, and the invaluable contribution made by Ireland to FACE over many years through NARGC Director Des Crofton who was named as FACE Vice President in September.

Among the many attractions at the event were a display with horses and hounds by the local Laois Hunt, birds of prey from the Irish Hawking Club, as well as gun dogs, taxidermy, hunting art, stick-making, photographic display, horse, game shooting and fishing merchandise displays. A lavish venison game lunch was also provided to attendees.

The occasion included a presentation made by NARGC Chairman, Sean Doris to Turlough Coffey from Wexford who has recently retired as Secretary of FACE-Ireland and in that capacity participated regularly in FACE meetings and events in Brussels.

Poland’s Hunters’ Association held St. Hubert celebrations early on in Spała on 20-21 October. The first day of celebrations focused on a hunting feast with a Holy Mass, a hunt and ceremonial dinner. The second day was devoted to horse riding, with a horse breeds show, fox hunting show and country music concert.

In the Netherlands St. Hubert celebrations were held all over the country. Celebrations and masses took place in several parts of the country. Further events included special St. Hubert rides, horn blowing and St. Hubert markets.