The Belle Meade Hunt was whelped by a group of horsemen who had been meeting for regular trail rides. Their usual route from Stagecoach Road took them to the Rock Dam and finally to the Boy Scout Cabin, where they often stayed for a cookout and sometimes an overnight and homeward ride in the morning. These are familiar landmarks to anyone who has visited and enjoyed the hunting at Belle Meade.
The organizational meeting to establish the hunt was held in August of 1966 at the home of James E. Wilson, Jr in Thomson, Georgia at the behest of William Preston Smith. Mr. Smith suggested the name Belle Meade after his family home in Virginia and suggested that Confederate Cavalry yellow be adopted as the hunt’s colors. Mr. Smith also designed the Hunt’s emblem. Mr. Wilson was elected president.
David Twiggs was officially confirmed as the MFHA’s new Executive Director.Tony Leahy, MFH of the Fox River Valley Hunt (IL), was elected to a three-year term as President of the Masters of Foxhounds Association at the Annual Meeting held on Friday, January 27, 2017 in New York. Leslie Rhett Crosby, MFH, Mooreland Hunt (AL) was elected First Vice President and Penny Denegre, MFH, Middleburg Hunt (VA) was elected Second Vice President. Also,
Retiring Executive Director Dennis Foster will remain at the office for another two months to complete David’s training. Upon his official retirement, Dennis will continue to assist the MFHA in animal rights and other areas, on a consulting basis.
I had the distinct honor of addressing the Annual Meeting crowd, the largest crowd I have ever seen, to relate how special David and his family are, and to explain President Leahy’s vision for an upcoming season of celebration. It was literally standing room only.
Bull Run’s Spree was the top scoring foxhound in the Belle Meade Hunt Foxhound Performance Trials held in Thomson, Georgia on January 20 and 21, 2017. Of thirty-six hounds competing, Spree won three of the four scoring categories: Hunting, Trailing, and Endurance. In the Full Cry category, he was second.* His combined score led the field in points.
Six foxhounds from each of six hunts competed—Belle Meade Hunt (GA), Bridlespur Hunt (MO), Bull Run Hunt (VA), Farmington Hunt (VA), Fox River Valley Hunt (IL), and Mill Creek Hunt (IL). The three top scoring hunts, based on the combined scores of their hounds from first to third, were: Bull Run, Fox River Valley, and Belle Meade.
Trial Huntsman Sam Clifton was called upon during the award ceremonies to announce his choice—the hound he’d most like to take back to his own kennels. Huntsman’s Choice is an honorary award and receives no official prize, but, as in past trials, Sam’s reasoning for his personal choice was worth hearing.
For any huntsman, staff member, or field member, wouldn’t it be helpful to know the specific time intervals on any given day when the fox or coyote is most likely to be afoot? And when it is most likely to be lying up? These times vary each day according not only to the phases of the moon, but are influenced also by how closely the moon rise and moon set correspond to the times of the sunrise and sunset in your particular hunting country.
Wouldn’t it be helpful also to know which specific days of the month you will experience average, good, or best conditions and the recommended time intervals for hunting on those days? There is a fascinating resource on the web that many sportsmen and women—hunters and anglers—use to advantage.
Epp Wilson, MFH and huntsman of the Belle Meade Hunt (GA), refers to this calendar regularly. “The game table predictions are more accurate than not in our experience,” says Epp.
We enjoy publishing hunt reports. The emphasis may be on humor, a unique hunting country, the horse, or the substance of venery, but rarely all that in one package. Epp’s report covers every base, especially substance. In the course of one exciting hunt, the reader is there as the huntsman conjures the best place for the first draw; reads his hounds as individuals; reaps the fruits of hot summer work in the country; assists the Field Master; uses his road whips to advantage when chasing the wide-ranging coyote; makes quick but necessary decisions—right or wrong—to maintain the pace of his hunt and the safety of his hounds; all the while, tuned to the problems of his mount.
The drought in the U.S. Southeast made September, October and November hunting in Georgia some of the most challenging we and the hounds have had in many years. Dust everywhere. Most of the streams long dried up. In others, just pockets of water.
It has been so dry and dusty that the puppies and even some of last year’s entry were tempted to run deer and pigs. Long, boring days where hounds cannot find a coyote to run tempt all but the most deer-broke dogs. We had two days that scent was so bad they could not run a freshly viewed coyote—even when we got them to the view in less than a minute.
“It’s not often that one’s business and personal passions come together into a single opportunity,” says David Twiggs, the man selected to replace Dennis Foster as the new Executive Director of the MFHA. Dennis will retire on April 1, 2017.
David Twiggs’ business career has flowered from a passion for the successful integration of sporting activities into rural economies and, with an eye for conservation, developing them into widely recognized destinations and living space. He is currently Chief Operating Officer of the 26,000-acre Hot Springs Village in Arkansas, the largest planned sporting community in the country.