Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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The Foxes of England

greyhound fox.nyplGreyhound Fox  /  Courtesy New York Public LibraryFoxhunting Life reader Janet Clarke asks, “I was told a long time ago that there are different types of foxes in the UK. Is this true?”

We consulted Nigel Peel, MFH and huntsman of the North Cotswold Foxhounds, and Martin Scott, ex-MFH of the Vale of the White Horse. Both men are highly regarded foxhound breeders and judges of foxhounds in England and serve as members of FHL’s Panel of Experts. Their answers were not only surprising, but it appears that the story may be yet unfolding.

Hunt-to-Huntsman Relations: A Matter of Concern?

sidney bailey.vwhSidney Bailey retired in 2005 after serving as professional huntsman for the Vale of the White Horse (UK) for forty-three seasons.Foxhunting Life readers demonstrate enormous interest in our articles covering the migration of huntsmen each year at about this time. (See “Huntsmen on the Move,” published last month.) Nancy Mitchell, who has hunted hounds at the Bijou Springs Hunt (CO) over a period of sixteen years, wants to know the why of it.

“I’m curious to know what motivates this ‘spring dance of the huntsmen,’” Nancy wrote. “What circumstances create this phenomenon? Money? Prestige? Politics? Age?”

We thought it was an interesting subject for our Panel of Experts, so we asked Jerry Miller, MFH, C. Martin Scott, ex-MFH, and Hugh Robards, ex-MFH, to weigh in on Nancy's question.

When a Fox Barks

fox and dog

Evie Good queried Foxhunting Life about her recent experience with a local fox.

“Can someone explain why a fox would bark repeatedly at me?” she asked. “We heard it barking last night close to the house. We found it barking at the dog this morning. When it saw me it ran to the nearby pasture, but stopped and barked some more. Finally, the fox turned and ran out of sight.

We asked two members of our Panel of Experts—Marty Wood, MFH and huntsman Hugh Robards, ex-MFH—for their opinion on this fox’s behavior.

Downton Abbey's Costume Designer Got It Right!

downton abbey2Lady Mary Crawley, ready for a day's hunting in Downton Abbey's concluding season

According to one of our experts, Downton Abbey’s costume designer got it right. But was it just by luck?

While the “correctness” of one’s foxhunting attire doesn’t help hounds one iota in giving us a good day’s hunting, it’s always fun to wrangle over what’s “correct” and what’s not. Especially when we see faux foxhunting scenes on the screen. So when I saw the images of Lady Mary Crawley and her father Robert, Earl of Grantham dressed to go hunting, I wondered why the costume designer hadn’t checked in with Foxhunting Life’s Panel of Experts first.

Thoughts on Mounted Trophies

trophyThese mounted trophies revive memorable hunting adventures in Ireland, England, and Virginia.Mounted game trophies are often seen in hunters’ homes as reminders of adventures worth remembering and fallen game worthy of respect. Also, as in the case of a pair of canvasback ducks shot years ago by my wife and soaring in graceful flight on one wall of our den, trophies may be mounted simply as permanent visions of the beauty of the natural world—one's own museum of natural history—surpassing anything wrought by the artist and cast in cold bronze.

Mounted trophies are also to be found at estate auctions and antique shops. It is the latter category that prompts this query from Foxhunting Life reader Bill Getchell:

“Is there a consensus,” asks Bill, “regarding the display of mounted trophies? Strict constructionists say you should do so only for game that you hunted. Others leave it wide open, maintaining it shows support for the sport and saves the trophy from the trash heap.”

With the caveat that are no right or wrong answers to this question, only personal opinions, here are two thoughtful yet differing views from two experienced and respected sportsmen on FHL’s Panel of Experts: Nigel Peel, MFH and huntsman of the North Cotswold Foxhounds (UK) and Hugh Robards, ex-MFH and currently huntsman of the Middleburg Hunt (VA):

A Question of Attire

brenda simmonsBrenda Simmons, ex-MFH, at Glenmore Hunt Opening Meet, 2014Brenda Simmons is an ex-Master of the Glenmore Hunt (VA). While an active Master, Brenda, who also whipped-in at the time, wore a scarlet coat.

Brenda asks, “Being an ex-MFH, is it still correct to wear my scarlet coat even though I am a lady?”

When visiting other hunts for joint meets, Brenda tells us that she wears a black hunt coat with Glenmore buttons, colors on the collar, and black boots with patent leather tops, even though Glenmore members may have been invited to wear their colors. When capping at other hunts—no joint meet—Brenda wears a plain black hunt coat, no colors, and plain black boots.

At Glenmore, however, she continues to wear her scarlet coat and wonders if she is correct in doing so. We asked two members of our Panel of Experts for their opinions, and your editor weighs in as well!

When Foxhounds Hunt Both Fox and Coyote

betsy smith.emma roweBetsy Smith in Virginia's Old Dominion Hunt country  /   Emma Rowe photoFoxhunting remained pure in much of rural Virginia even as the coyote population was increasing up and down the eastern coastal states. Why much of Virginia’s hunting country was ignored by coyotes is a question for another time, but there’s no doubt that canis latrans has discovered its earlier mistake and, for the last several years, has made substantial property acquisitions in the Old Dominion.

Virginia hunts are handling the situation in various ways—some considering coyote as riot, some adding the coyote to its list of bona fide quarry. For hunts in the latter category, with staff still relatively inexperienced in hunting the coyote, new questions arise for their hound breeding programs.

Betsy Smith asks whether a hound’s nose for coyote scenting should be any different than a hound’s nose for fox scenting. For a pack that hunts both coyote and fox, are there any breeding considerations when it comes to nose?

As a followup question, Betsy asks if there are other more important hound attributes than nose to consider and breed for.

We went to our Panel of Experts and asked two experienced huntsmen, C. Martin Wood, MFH, Live Oak Hounds (FL) and Marion Thorne, MFH, Genesee Valley Hunt (NY), to answer Betsy’s questions for the benefit of their less coyote-savvy friends in Virginia. Although Marty hunts in Florida, and Marion hunts in New York state, it’s uncanny how similarly they feel about what they need in their packs.

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Panel of Experts

Hugh Robards, ex-MFH

Huntsman, Author

Dr. Roger Scullin, MFH

Veterinarian, Foxhound Breeder

Jerry Miller, MFH

Huntsman, Foxhound Breeder

Paul Striberry

Foxhunter, Horseman, Trainer
www.consciousriding.com

Nigel Peel, MFH (UK)

Hunstman, Breeder, Judge

C. Martin Wood III, MFH

MFHA President 1990-1993
Huntsman, Breeder, Judge

Steve Price

Author/Editor of 25 books, including The Whole Horse Catalog and 1001 Best Things Ever Said About Horses

C. Martin Scott, ex-MFH (UK)

Foxhound Breeder, Judge, Writer

marion thorne

Bill Gamble Photo

Marion Thorne, MFH

Huntsman, Foxhound Breeder

 

ringtones