Humiliating licence inspections or ‘hunts’ might be made several times a month by armed policemen who, as one commissioner observed, tended to do their duty while ‘bullying and swearing at everyone’ in a way that made ‘respectable men extremely indignant.’ Historian Geoffrey Serle likens a full-scale hunt, conducted with commissioners and mounted police, to ‘a military manoeuvre with ambushes, surprise attacks and encircling movements.’ Some commissioners thought it quite a sport (exciting in the manner of pigsticking or tiger-hunting) and would invite visiting dignitaries along for the show. Digger ‘prey’, understandably, found it far from amusing. Author and digger William Howitt said of it:
The system of hunting up licences was styled 'Man hunting', and the foot-police 'Man-catchers' and 'Bloodhounds'. It was a system that raised the indignation of high-spirited freeborn men, and excited the universal hatred of the people.