Mary Kalergis’s new book Foxhunters Speak was launched this spring. Mary will be in the Foxhunting Life stand at the Virginia Foxhound Show to greet readers and sign her books. Please stop by and say hello.
We’ve published two sneak previews of Mary’s book over the last couple of months in FHL WEEK. I hope you had a chance to read Melvin Poe’s story in March and Tot Goodwin’s story in April. It’s as if you had sat down with each of these respected huntsmen in their own dens, shared a tumbler, listened to the experiences that formed their personal hunting philosophies, and met the mentors who shaped them.
Melvin and Tot represent just two of fifty foxhunting personalities whom Mary sought out, sat with, and interviewed. Her experience in this genre shows. She’s published similar books on subjects from teenagers to adoption to childbirth. She’s traveled the country for her interviews and edited them into coherent essays that are both personal and frank. Now she’s done it for the foxhunting world, and I heartily recommend it. Even the interview of ten-year-old Colin Smith, son of a professional huntsman, is charming.
As a basis for her interviews, Mary asked each individual a simple question. “Who got you interested in foxhunting, and what did you learn from them?” As Mary writes in the Introduction to her book, “No matter how long they have been foxhunting and how knowledgeable about it they may be, someone introduced them to the sport and taught them how to participate. That insight was the seed that sprouted into this oral history of foxhunting in America.”
Some quotes that resonated with me:
“When we hear hounds speak, it strikes a primeval chord, an unconscious memory. For people like me, it’s irresistible. To others who don’t get it, it can never be explained because it’s deeper than logic.” (-Charley Matheson)
“My grandmother saw how devoted I was to my hounds and gave me a book called The Life of John Mytton, which became a source of great inspiration. Even though he was a crazy drunk and an incorrigible gambler who was always in debt, he was a rabid foxhunter. He was probably not such a good role model for an eleven-year-old boy!” (-Ben Hardaway)
“Now the groundhog is the fox’s best friend because he digs the den, and then their babies are good to eat. Groundhogs not only build the fox’s shelter, they supply the meat. They will even come back in and clean up after the baby foxes when they move out.” (-Albert Poe)
“Hunting with hounds really puts you in touch with the fact that the dog is the conduit between civilized man and nature at its most primal.” (-Bobby Ashcom)
“When I get a new person whipping-in for me, I don’t want them to carry a radio for at least a year, so they learn to use their eyes and ears.” (-Jordan Hicks)
“I think foxhunting is such an important legacy to pass on to the next generation because if the kids grow up learning to love the landscape and wildlife, they’ll work to preserve it when they grow up.” (-Iona Pillion)
“One morning really early our pack ran at full cry through a man’s yard, and he came out all upset and hollerin’, “How’d you like it if a bunch of hounds came runnin’ through your yard?” and I said I’d like it a lot!” (-Billy Dodson)
“Those old Pennsylvania farmers taught me everything I needed to know about life—that there are no guarantees and that you get to decide every morning when you wake up if you want to be happy or sad.” (-Lynn Lloyd)
I hope to see all our subscribers at the hound show!
Posted May 8, 2017