This post recycled from November 2004.
Bert Gripton is one of the few legendary terriermen who was not known for breeding dogs, but for working them. He had a small pack of working terriers and whippets, and was terrierman to the Albrighton Foxhounds. His father was a gamekeeper on the Aqualate estate in Staffordshire near the Shropshire border.
Gripton was a die-hard digger who specialized in badger, but he also hunted otter (he took the last legal otter in the UK), and fox. Phil Drabble, author Of Pedigree Unknown, from which the above picture is lifted, said that Gripton "could, and did, catch Fox with greater certainty than the hounds."
Bert Gripton appears to have kept a pack of very small dogs. This is not surprising -- the more people dig, the more they seem to value a small dog able to get up to the quarry and to manuever around and with it. Brian Nuttal notes of Gripton's terriers: "No one called them Jack Russells in those days, just white hunt terriers."
Phil Drabble explained Gripton's technique for removing a fox:
"Quite often it was the fox's grinning mask which came into view, in which case there is an effective trick that requires supreme confidence and dexterity approaching sleight of hand. Hold a bit of stick, as thick as your thumb, and about a foot long, and wave it rapidly across the fox's mask, within reach of his jaws. The reaction is reflex and certain. He bites the stick in a vice-like grip. That is the exact split second when it is safe to shoot out the other hand to grab him by the scruff of the neck. It takes more cool nerve that I possess, but it was one of Bert Gripton's star performances."