Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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FHL wants your hunt reports! Stories and photos. Submit yours here.

Honk, Honk; Gone Away!

Every sport has its downside. Consider some of the older, retired NFL players—hobbling about in a fog of multiple concussions. What about foxhunters? Most of us have had our share of concussions and fractures, too. Now comes this hunt report from a retired Master of Foxhounds. Is this what we have to look forward to? He claims his story is tongue-in-cheek. Whatever. But I wouldn’t believe a word of it. -ED

derek french packThe pack  /  Alastair Strachan photo
This season’s armadillo hunting has started with a bang. There’s plenty of quarry as the local pack of coyotes has moved away. Lots of rabbits on the golf course is another sign that the coyotes have taken a hike. However, in the wee hours of the night a week ago, I did hear a strange howl out there on the fourth fairway of the golf course.

The local radio has been reporting that Florida panthers (no, not the sports team) have moved north of the Caloosahatchee River for the first time. Perhaps it is a coincidence, but a black Labrador and a house cat have been reported missing—another good reason to walk out our pack of Jack Russells in daylight hours.

A Christmas Hunt in the Cumbrian Fells

dove crag 1

The path wound its way up the fell side, twisting and turning as it sought the line of least resistance in its quest for the ridge and finally the trig point that marked the actual summit. Several hundred feet below the track and above the valley where the track began, a buzzard circled on a thermal originating from the big crag.

The path like the crag had over the centuries seen many things, Stone Age man had used the track to get to the veins of slate on an adjoining fell. Viking and Roman feet had followed the track to and from the nearby coast. Long pony trains carried produce over the track to the coast and its sea port. Finally, endless hordes of garishly dressed tourists added to the general erosion of the track. It began in the valley bottom, passed through an area of bog, soon left it behind, and that is where the erosion started. The higher up the fell, the thinner the soil, the greater the erosion. At the time all these thoughts passed me by, but looking back I can ascend the track from start to finish in my mind’s eye. I remember it so well because on one Christmas holiday morning, I saw a hunt which will long remain in my memory.

The Galway Blazers at Cawley’s Bar in Craughwell

John DenisJohn Denis became the first huntsman of the County Galway Hunt (the Blazers) when it was organised in 1839  /  Courtesy of Noel Mullins

The Castleboy Hunt Club, established in 1803, hunted the Galway foxes until 1839. At that time a new hunt committee founded the County Galway Hunt, better known today as the Galway Blazers. John Denis, a direct ancestor of the only lady huntsman of the Blazers, Molly O’Rourke, was appointed the first huntsman.
In years past, top Hollywood stars were often seen in Galway visiting the late film director and actor John Huston, a Joint-Master of the Blazers at the time. I have great personal memories of hunting with the Blazers over the years, starting as a child over sixty years ago. In later years I had the pleasure also of serving on the Blazers hunt committee. Few had transport in those early days, so we hacked to meets sometime five and often up to twenty miles from our hometown Loughrea, especially if the meet was Athenry or Turloughmore.

Road Adventures: Bull Run March Madness 2017

brunnen.hounds over coopA mixed pack of Epp Wilson's Belle Meade hounds from Georgia and Bull Run's home pack showed sport over five days of hunting to all who gathered for their season-ending March Madness week. / Lori Brunnen photo

My timing was perfect. With Bull Run March Madness now history, I managed to hunt Saturday, go to work on Sunday, and get sick on Monday. During the days before we left for Virginia, with my nerves activated by a recent snow, my anxiety focused on the fear that I would get sick before, or even worse, during our trip. So I am very content to be sneezing and stuffy now. Worse thing is hubby Rick is also now sick. Sicker than me. He is always sicker than me, even if he has the same thing. But this time he really is sick.

Before the trip, my field hunter Ozzy had recently recovered from a bacterial infection, but not before having lost some weight. Not being a good traveler, I did not want him to lose any more weight. So my pale, borderline pony Frankie was pressed into service for this trip. After picking up Mary’s mare Spyder, Mary followed me in her car to our staging area in the Walmart parking lot. Alas, no one thought to grab ourselves a quick Starbucks for the road ahead of time. Traveling solo, Trish’s horse was rocking her trailer, so we moved out pronto. Our four trailers would caravan to Virginia from there following Mary in her car. Mary needed to head home a few days early to put on a bridal shower so she had to drive separately. It is a pretty straightforward trip to the Funny Farm in Reva, Virginia. Plus we have done it before. As the convoy rolled along I was struck again with how beautiful this part of Virginia is. During our trip every time the mountains came into view we would point and exclaim, “Look, a mountain!” Reminding us why we come here.