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Belle Meade Hunt

bellemeade

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.

Website: http://bellemeadehounds.com/

fox and moon2.blingeeFor 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.

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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.

coyate3.smallDay's end. / Ed Maxwell photo

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.

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david and ashley twiggsDavid and Ashley Twiggs

“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.

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jnafhc claire goff.betsy parkerClaire Goff riding Miss Congeniality was judged 1st Field Champion, 13 and over, of the 2016 Junior North American Field Hunter Championships at the finals hosted by the Iroquois Hunt. With Claire are (l-r) Dr. Jack van Nagell, MFH, host, and President of the MFHA; Marion Chungo, organizer; Douglas Wise-Stuart, MFH, Old Dominion Hounds, and co-founder of the event; Cathy Murphy, daughter of the late Pat Murphy, longtime Iroquois huntsman ; and Cindy Goff, Claire's grandmother and former member of the Iroquois field. And the cute dog is Bert! /  Betsy Burke Parker photo 

Junior foxhunters and their parents traveled from thirteen states to Lexington, Kentucky, where the Iroquois Hunt hosted the finals of the 2016 Junior North American Field Hunter Championships. Thirty-three hunts participated over the course of the informal season by holding qualifying meets from which the finalists were chosen by mounted judges. In thirteen years, the program has grown steadily in participation and geographically from its modest start involving a few hunts in Virginia.

The program is succeeding because it’s purpose rises above just competition. Founders Douglas Wise, MFH, Old Dominion Hounds (VA) and Iona Pillion from the Blue Ridge Hunt (VA) had a larger dream: bring children to new hunting countries, broaden their hunting perspectives, and open their eyes to the fact that these hunting countries don’t just happen to be there for them by chance, but have been nurtured and conserved for the perpetuation of wildlife, open space, and for those who treasure the natural world.

“We want these kids to know what a conservation easement is,” said Marion Chungo, one of the organizers.

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Epp Wilson, MFH wrote this piece for members of the Belle Meade Hunt (GA). Foxhunting Life subscriber Howard Benson suggested that Epp’s recommendations deserve wider distribution. We agree. What follows is a sympathetic, timely, and heartfelt message as only Epp can deliver it!

epp and hounds crop.gianniniMaster and huntsman Epp Wilson and the Belle Meade hounds / Lauren Giannini photo

The hound-roading or exercise season is a good time to bring out green horses—or horses otherwise not used to hunting and hounds bolting out of the bushes and dashing at them from behind.

It is a lot easier for green horses to process surprises now, while we are just exercising hounds than it is when we are hunting, and their minds are already overwhelmed with the mental challenges of a coyote chase. Frequently the inexperienced horse is already at wit’s end during a coyote run, so, of course, he is more likely to kick a hound.

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