The Aiken Hounds (SC) needed a huntsman, and Chad Wilkes was available. Sounds simple enough, but it really wasn’t. The story is in the hows and whys of it: the perfect timing, the perfect match, and how it all meshes so perfectly.
In 1914 many of the most adventurous men and women of American sporting legend organized the Aiken Drag—wealthy northerners Louise Eustis Hitchcock, MFH and huntsman; her husband Thomas Hitchcock, known today as the father of steeplechase racing in America; son Tommy Hitchcock Jr., who ranks with his father as one of the greatest American polo players of all time; plus the Belmonts, Vanderbilts, and Whitneys.
I reached into the left, front pocket of my foxhunting jacket, a vintage black and grey-flecked wool frock made by Brittany Riding Apparel of New York. My fingers found something thin and soft—a faded blue pack of ten-cent stamps with an enthusiastic message from the postal service about using your zip code.
“Help us give your letters top speed.”
Five-digit zip codes were introduced in 1963; ten cent stamps were issued in the early 1970s; I was issued in 1955.
I inspected the stamp book further. What is the story of the stamps? And the story of a riding jacket I had been given by my mother on Christmas Day, 1972, but had never worn?
It’s the story of a woman’s place.
The 2019 Carolinas Hound Show was hosted by the Moore County Hounds on May 11th at Lyell’s Meadow in the Walthour Moss Foundation, a paradise for horsemen and naturalists in the sand hills of Southern Pines, NC. The Foundation was formed in 1974 by Pappy and Ginny Moss, MFHs of the Moore County Hounds (NC), as a charitable trust of 1,700 acres preserved in perpetuity. With additional gifts through the succeeding years from Ginny Moss and others, the Foundation now totals more than 4,000 acres and represents Moore County’s principal hunting country.
Hounds competed in three rings, Crossbred in Ring 1, Penn-Marydel in Ring 2, and English, American, and Foot packs in Ring 3. That one ring is dedicated entirely to Penn-Marydel hounds, and English and American foxhounds are combined in one ring with foot hounds, strikes this reporter as a noteworthy indication of the growing affinity for Penn-Marydel foxhounds amongst North American hunts well outside of the breed’s native region of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. Concomitantly, the consequence must be a reduction in the numbers of Pure English and American types now being hunted in these southern Atlantic states.
As foxhunters, we all look forward to Hunt Ball Weekend. For many hunts, it’s a time when the season is winding down, and we try to truly savor the invigorating mornings remaining of another season spent with our horses, hounds, and friends.
Hunt Ball Weekend in Camden, South Carolina, is no different. This year, however, we spread the enjoyment more than a little by inviting Fred Berry, MFH and huntsman, Sedgefield Hunt (NC), his hounds, and the Sedgefield members to join us. We spread the fun with three days of things to do and places to go—two hunts, one for each pack, and a hunt ball.
Two days of hard hunting on November 6 and 7, 2018 behind a pack of fifty-four foxhounds—each of which qualified for this championship event by placing among the top ten of one or more of the performance trials over the past year—concluded the MFHA Hark Forward! Performance Trial Season. The season of performance trials, field hunter trials, and joint meets which began last year were conceived by MFHA president Tony Leahy and Master Epp Wilson, Belle Meade Hunt (GA), to reprise, during Leahy’s tenure as president, the spirit of the MFHA Centennial celebrations ten years earlier.
The Performance Trial Championship event was matured, expanded, organized, and staged to perfection by the Masters of the Midland Fox Hounds (GA) in their Fitzpatrick, Alabama hunting country. More than two hundred people representing more than forty hunts participated. Foxhounds from twenty-four hunts competed. Ashley Hubbard, professional huntsman at the Green Spring Valley Hounds (MD), served as trial huntsman for this all-star pack.