fhl logo

Subscribe RISK FREE for complete access to website PLUS
twice-monthly e-magazine.


  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25
  • 26
  • 27
  • 28
  • 29
  • 30
  • 31
  • 32
  • 33
  • 34

Photographer Gretchen Pelham was simply photographing a beautiful scene of huntsman Ryan Johnsey standing by the cornfield with the Smoky Mountains in the background. She had no idea she had caught a hunting drama!

coyote, foxhound and huntsman in the shadow of the Smoky Mountains

Limestone, Tennessee, on the banks of the Nolichucky River (translation: “the River of Death”) under the shadow of the Smoky Mountains. It was the first staff hunt of the season. I had picked up a few puppies and our ancient hound Ariat hanging out at the trailers and put them in a section of corn that I knew was close to the pack, still searching for game. Both puppies came right back out of the corn but Ariat started boo-hooing on a line. The pack soon joined her and off they went.

About an hour later I was sitting on a hill on my horse, listening to the pack circle and roar by me again, and all I did was take a burst of photos of Ryan Johnsey, MFH, our huntsman, with the Smoky Mountains in the background. That’s it. I saw Ryan and the mountains through the lens. Nothing else.

As I put the camera back into my coat*, I saw the back end of a black and tan canine run into the tall grass to my right. Ariat is our only black and tan hound. I thought, “Good Lord!  Ariat is moving fast for such an old girl! She’s in front of the whole pack!”

Hounds ran the coyote about an hour and forty minutes without a check on about four hundred acres of corn in crazy ninety-degree-plus heat and humidity. It wasn’t until three days later when I downloaded the photos that I realized it was the coyote I had seen and not Ariat. I took one of the best shots of my career and never knew I was doing it.

The mostly white hound in the photo was a clueless puppy who never even saw the coyote. I, alas, was also clueless, as I hadn’t seen the coyote either. In my defense I did get up at 2:00 am that morning in order to get to the 6:30 am fixture on time. So I don’t think my brain was fully functioning. Thank God the camera was!

Click an image to start a larger slideshow of all three in the sequence.

Coyote peeks out…
Slams on brakes, seeing puppy (clueless) and huntsman…
Makes decision: I’m out of here.

Posted June 9, 2017

* Gretchen Pelham has all her hunt coats tailored to accommodate her camera case inside!

Click Here to Subscribe

Click on any ad to learn more!