Dr. Steven Thomas, Master and huntsman of the Leavenworth Hunt (KS) was casting back a couple of years.
“Drop Zone was my favorite puppy,” he recalled. “He was home-raised. We always take in a few of the puppies to raise in the house,” he explained.
Drop Zone had recently been judged Grand Champion of Show at the 2022 Central States Hound Show hosted by Fort Leavenworth Hunt at Master Thomas’s Blue Valley Farm.
Hounds from six hunts were shown: Brazos Valley Hounds (TX), Bridlespur Hunt (MO), Fort Leavenworth Hunt (KS), Harvard Fox Hounds (OK), Mission Valley Hunt (KS), and North Hills Hunt (NE). Hounds were judged by huntsman Spencer Allen, Long Run Woodford Hounds (KY), and huntsman Andrew Bozdan, Camargo Hunt (OH).
At breakfast this Thursday morning, Joan reminded me that Memorial Day was just a few days away. Boy, it sure didn’t feel like it.
Normally, we’d have been recently back from our hunt’s kennels having watched the practice hound show, afterwards assessing our hounds’ prospects for ribbons and trophies at the Virginia Foxhound Show. Which should have been on the calendar for this weekend. We would have been looking forward to seeing old hunting friends from across North America, and I would have been assuring Joan that I had remembered to send in our reservations for the reception at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting and the dinner under the tent at Morven Park (whether I had, in fact, remembered or not). In short, I would have been looking forward to an important and unique weekend of camaraderie and foxhound study.
The Central States hound Show was held on May 4, 2019 in Stilwell, Kansas, hosted by the Leavenworth Hunt. Hounds from six hunts were shown: Brazos Valley Hounds (TX), Bridlespur Hunt (MO), Fort Leavenworth Hunt (KS), Harvard Fox Hounds (OK), Mission Valley Hunt (KS), and North Hills Hunt (NE). Hounds were judged by Graham Buston, huntsman, Blue Ridge Hunt (VA).
Brazos Valley was the high scoring hunt for the day and was gunning for its third consecutive Grand Championship at Central States, but it was not to be. Grand Champion of Show was Harvard Goneaway 2018, drafted unentered by Hillsboro Hounds (TN) to Harvard and entered last season. Goneaway’s male line is highly prepotent, as we will see, and Goneaway’s story serves as a fine example of how the system is supposed to work: top breeding kennels generously drafting well-bred hounds to bolster other packs around the country.
Brazos Valley Precious 2016, an American foxhound, was crowned Grand Champion of the Southwest Hound Show on April 22, 2017. Precious is closely inbred; her sire and dam were littermates, Brazos Valley Mystic 2010 and Molly 2010, respectively. An unusual breeding practice for sure, and about which I was anxious to talk to breeder Sandy Dixon, MFH of the Brazos Valley Hounds (TX).
Both Mystic and Molly were hound show winners in Virginia, and their sire and dam were hound show winners. The four foxhounds comprising the first two generations from Precious account for eight grand championships at MFHA-sanctioned hound shows! And if you go back just one more generation, who appears in Precious’s pedigree (top and bottom, because her paternal and maternal grandparents are the same) but Potomac Jefferson 2005, the MFHA Centennial Grand Champion Foxhound...the king...the Clarke Gable of the North American foxhound world.
His day job is demanding, and he’s never hunted hounds before, but Dr. Steven Thomas has been preparing for his new responsibility as huntsman of the Fort Leavenworth Hunt (KS) since childhood.
“Time management will be the biggest problem I’ll face,” Thomas acknowledged. “We’ll need a lot of volunteers,” he adds. But he has admiration for his fellow hunt members, the foxhounds in kennels, and the distinguished history of the Fort Leavenworth Hunt. He’s definitely looking forward to hunting hounds this season.
Thomas grew up riding Western, and, as a boy, coon hunted with his grandfather who ran his own hounds. He never rode without a pommel in front of him until he hooked up with the late Tommy Jackson, huntsman at the Mission Valley Hunt in Kansas.