OUTFOXED (1983, Mike Huskisson, London, England)

After participating in a series of high profile actions, including the famous “smoking beagles” liberation, early animal rights activist Mike Huskisson went on to pioneer the field of investigations into abuse and torture. Outfoxed was the product of that first investigation. It remains an important documentation of the early days of our movement and the type of undercover work that makes groups such as Mercy for Animals so prominent today. Conflict Gypsy is proud to share this classic, complete with a new introduction from the author.

My book Outfoxed is primarily an account of my undercover work for the League Against Cruel Sports to expose the cruelty inherent in the bloodsports of fox hunting, stag hunting, hare hunting, mink hunting and hare coursing in England over a two year period from April 1981 to May 1983. Outfoxed was written immediately after the investigation ended and published before the end of that year. At the time it was quite a novel idea to join the world of hunting, a pastime that the author wholly opposed, simply in order to film, photograph and report the cruelty that occurred so as to bring that cruelty to the attention of the outside world.

This was all in a different age. It was before video cameras and hidden cameras. The movie film that was taken during this investigation was taken with a Super-8 mm cine camera. This meant the sequences were limited to just a few minutes each before the film had to be turned over. All filming had to be done in good light. The highest quality of lens was chosen in preference to having sound.

The film cameras were exactly that – 35mm Nikon film cameras. Unlike modern digital cameras you took 36 images on a single film and then had to change your film. There was no opportunity to immediately preview your images to check the quality. You chose your film and the ASA setting for it and that was that for the whole film; there was no opportunity, as there is with modern cameras, to change the film speed settings from image to image. There was also no built in flash.

Finally, this investigation was carried out before the day of the mobile phone and the hand-held GPS device. When I was in the field with the hunting fraternity I was on my own. There was no opportunity to nip behind a hedge and make a secret call for back-up, or send a text message. If my opponents worked out who I really was and sought to take me to task I would have to talk my way out of it or else! If I needed to call for help I had to find a phone box. To know exactly where I was I had to be map-aware.

Before I carried out the investigation and wrote the book I had on several occasions been in trouble with the law for animal rights activity and had been imprisoned. The investigation and subsequent book was a plea to colleagues to see that animal rights could be advanced effectively entirely lawfully. I did not want then and do not want now to see kind compassionate people imprisoned. We can beat the animal abusers and bullies by using brains rather than brawn and by acting always within the law. It is the animal abusers who should be imprisoned not those who seek to protect life.

By showing the world what our opponents get up to, the barbaric way in which they use and abuse animals when they think they are out of sight, we really can generate the public anger that can force an end to these cruelties.

Knowing that Outfoxed was about to be published the hunting fraternity made all manner of threats that they would take libel action against the author and publisher. In the event to this day I have not received so much as a single letter of complaint as to the truth of anything that I wrote. After publication and following extracts being printed in the News of the World I did receive a letter from a young girl saying that when she was photographed at one of the hunts she had been raised by her parents to enjoy hunting but with growing older she had distanced herself from the pastime and was actually now working to improve animal welfare. Curiously in subsequent years some of the hunting people that I had befriended and infiltrated also told me, strictly off the record of course, that my account was a very factual record of hunting and one Hunt Master even asked me for a copy of my book!

Some of the pictures that I took during the investigation that were published in Outfoxed were widely published by the media at large including the likes of Stern magazine and the National Geographic Magazine.

All the bloodsports that I exposed in the course of my investigation were subsequently banned in England by Parliament through the Hunting Act 2004.

I now run my own campaigning animal welfare group: the Animal Cruelty Investigation Group. This was set up in June 1989 to fund the expenses of investigation work. You can find our web site at: www.acigawis.co.uk

Mike Huskisson,

Suffolk, England February 25th 2011

e-mail: acig@btinternet.com

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