is a sport
in which a group of dogs
) chase a scent that has been laid (dragged) over a terrain before the hunt. The scent, usually a combination of aniseed
oils and possibly animal meats, is dragged along the terrain by a volunteer
for any distance up to several miles to a designated finish line before the hounds are released at the start line by their owners. The hound first crossing the finish line wins the race. A variation is that the hounds are followed by a group of participants on horseback and, without a designated finish line, the hunt ends when the dogs catch up with the volunteer.
Drag hunting is not a blood sport in that no animal is hunted or killed and as such may become more popular in jurisdictions where blood sports, such as fox hunting, have been banned. In the United Kingdom, where fox hunting was banned in February 2005, drag hunting has often been advocated as an alternative sport by anti-hunting campaigners, such as the League Against Cruel Sports. A number of former fox hunts have announced the adoption of drag or 'trail' hunting. It is also popular in areas where hunting in the traditional sense could not exist, for example, it is possible (but sometimes unsafe) to drag hunt on land close to busy roads as the scent is laid where it is safe for the hounds to go.
Drag hunting is a popular sport in South-West Ireland, particularly South Kerry and Cork.