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This Is Hunting UK: A Pro-Active Voice

james barclayJames Barclay, while Master of the Fitzwilliam Foxhounds (UK) from 1987 to 1999.Where now? This is undoubtedly one of the most frequently asked questions that we huntsmen have to consider during a hunting day. Where had our quarry gone, where to draw next, etc, etc? In this piece, however, I am going to use it in a different context, perhaps the most important one of all, and that is, Where is hunting going now?

Despite our opponents’ belief that they had won the most tremendous victory over us nearly eleven years ago, hunting is still here, and in whatever form it takes, it's popularity has never waned. What a pleasure it is to see people from every angle of society still coming together at a meeting of their local pack of hounds. And why shouldn't they?

We occasionally hear the comments, "It's not like it used to be,” or, “ Look at that lot, they haven't a clue what they are doing!" However, our record says more than that, and there is much to be proud of; but there is one thing for certain and that is we cannot afford to relax for one moment. Pushing our activities under the carpet is not going to help us in the long term. Let us go out and stand up for our beliefs, be keen to share them with those who are interested enough to listen. And there are plenty out there—if we play it correctly—who want to do exactly that.

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On Not Letting Standards Slide

Ronnie Wallace.Eaton College BeaglesRonnie Wallace with the Eton College Beagles, where he set records as yet to be equalled.When we were beaglers with school or college packs we tried to be as professional as possible. At the Eaton Beagles we had a splendid fellow, Bill Perkins. He had been second whipper-in to a number of high class establishments, and as he told us all, he’d only come to the Eton Beagles in 1926 because he’d disagreed with Arthur French Blake over half a crown. He drummed into us the parade ground stuff, the handling of hounds from home, rigorous exercise, and obtaining hounds’ confidence.

He made us able to take hounds under strict control through the by-streets of Slough without a whipper-in. Later George Knight, Percy Durno, Bill Lander, Tony Collins, and now, Anthony Adams and Tony Wright were all trained to know there is a correct way of doing everything.

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On Opening (and Keeping) Foxhunting Country

cheshire foxhounds 21Hunting country is a hunt's most precious asset. The late Mrs. Nancy Hannum, MFH, Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds, set the bar for how to protect hunting country, hers just thirty miles from Philadelphia.

The season has started and so far so good. Young hounds are entering well and have been given the space and time to work things out. But every season brings headaches the Masters can well do without.

Most field members are blissfully unaware of the amount of year-round planning that goes into every day’s hunting. During the spring and summer Masters need to go and visit their landowners and make sure they are welcome for the following season. Secondly, they need to look further afield to increase their hunting country. Why? Because there are too many ways good country can be lost. Here’s one that I experienced.

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Save Foxhunting

colin brownHuntsman Colin Brown with foxhounds at the Great Lakes Invitational Hound ShowWe are extremely lucky this side of the pond when it comes to anti-foxhunting activities. We don't yet have the attacks on our sport that happen in the U.K. and are starting to appear in France.

But we don't need to rest on our good fortune. The Animal Rights movement is starting to attack deer hunters, their tree stands, and other hunting activities. We need to rally round each other to protect our sport with hounds. We have already seen attacks at some state levels, and Animal Rights activists are probing for weaknesses.

We can help our friends in the UK to combat their foes by supporting This is Hunting U.K. through their Facebook page. This organization was set up by James Barclay, ex-MFH, some five years ago following a concept paper I wrote for him after an epic conversation we had based on our heartfelt needs to combat the lies and rhetoric that the Animal Rights lobby had escalated in the world of social media.

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The Education of a Wheel Whip

wheel whip laura fullerTyler Johnson, Laura Fuller, and a "somewhat-official" hound truck

My daughter, Savannah, started riding with Belle Meade Hunt (GA) eight years ago at the age of twelve. I am not a rider. Yes, I have ridden (slowly, on a trail). Riding is her passion, not mine.

However, I am not a mom that wanted to just drop her kid off with a hug and a kiss and a “Have fun and be careful!” So, I started hitching rides with the kennelman in the old hound truck, or in the back of Unit One (another old pickup truck with not very comfortable tally-ho benches in the truck bed), or with pretty much anyone that would take pity and let me ride along.

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Time Goes By

First Beagle HuntFirst “hunt,” age 5, riding a mini borrowed from the Dozier clan for Belle Meade’s annual beagle hunt.Time...where does it go? How could I have accumulated so many memories in such a short time? It seems like only yesterday that I was hunting with pure abandon, escaping from the realities of life, and enjoying nothing but the thrill of running wildly through the woods, listening to the cry of the hounds, feeling the cold air rushing past my ears, and at the end of the day relishing the after effects of the adrenalin rush. I had been hunting for about fifteen years or so.

Then, over the past few years (has it been six already?) there was a gradual change in life and attitude. Time passed, and with it some of the reckless abandon was replaced by a more conservative respect for staying in the saddle and on top of the horse. This was brought on by the responsibility I incurred when I decided that bringing my granddaughter, Alayna, into the hunt would be a good idea.

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Sub-zero Foxhunting, Montana-Style

Big Sky Hounds Photo by Scott AllsbrookBig Sky Hounds, winter image in relief. Photo by Scott Allsbrook.

Big Sky Hounds, with its pack of Walker Hounds, is the northernmost (latitudinal) cold-country pack in North America. The kennels are also located exactly at the confluence of the Madison, Jefferson, and Gallatin Rivers that create the Missouri River.  We can hunt through winter because Montana doesn’t have as much snow or lake-effect weather as some Canadian counterparts. However, the extreme seasonal temperatures and conditions of Montana do present unique challenges to maintaining a happy, healthy pack of hounds, fit horses, and a predictable hunting schedule.

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