Mary Kate Murphy, staff writer for the The Pilot in Pinehurst, North Carolina, interviewed Lincoln Sadler, huntsman of the Moore County Hounds (NC), and wrote the best newspaper article about foxhunting that I have seen in many years. And on so many levels.
Murphy and Sadler explain the primal importance of hounds to the sport of foxhunting; the training process and bond between huntsman and hound; how Sadler selects his pack for a day’s hunting depending on the country; how he comes to know his hunting country so well; Sadler's eschewing of double-speak about hunting in North America (i.e., the truth for a change by a hunt official in a newspaper!); how hound shows help mitigate a huntsman’s “kennel-blindness"; and the foxhound’s life from whelping to puppy training to being entered to retirement.
Murphy's is an article of foxhunting substance and the writer's art, the likes of which I have never seen published by a hometown newspaper. (I have to wonder if Murphy, besides being an excellent writer, is also an experienced foxhunter!)
Whether emerging stately from the mist for a Thanksgiving blessing or crashing headlong through the pines on a weekday hunt, an assembly of horses, riders and hounds makes for a spectacle that’s lost on its most important characters. The hounds of Moore County Hounds are too busy following their noses.
The huntsman knows his country:
He makes his choice on any given day based on whether the hunt will cover the Walthour-Moss Foundation’s 5,000 acres or the 64,000-acre Sandhills Game Lands. A Moore County native and lifelong foxhunter, Sadler knows both fixtures well. He took an early retirement from working on the Game Lands as a state wildlife biologist before taking over as huntsman last year.
How a candid Sadler selects his hounds for a day’s hunting:
“If I know I’m going somewhere I need a wide-ranging hound or hounds that draw differently, I can select different hounds and accomplish that,” he said. “I do give myself a little grief by taking more hounds than I should, because I have to put up with a little more fooling around from the young entry … on the days when you can’t seem to find a varmint anywhere, they can be a little bit wearisome. But what a gracious noise, what a beautiful music they make when everybody opens on the right thing and you’re off.”
The hunting bond between huntsman and hound:
“When we are riding home, I always look right at my left heel for Hoplight, look at my back right for Ensign and so on and so forth,” Sadler said. “They seem to have a place in the pack that they like.”
A huntsman’s self evaluation:
“I was lucky enough to inherit a good pack of hounds when I became huntsman. By my estimation, I really have nowhere to go but down with these hounds.”
A succinct evaluation of his Penn-Marydels:
“If the scenting conditions are where they can’t fly on the scent, then they may be described as slow … but on those days when the scenting conditions are not good, other packs wouldn’t be able to hunt a line at all.”
Telling the truth. No syrup-speak, no fanciful fibs:
Hunts in the United States and Canada are all about the thrill of the chase. Most days end with the fox going to ground when it tires of being pursued and living to be hunted another day.
I would very much like to offer more from this substantive and gracefully-expressed article, but I don’t want to commit plagiarism! Click on the link for the complete text and photos. I recommend it as an excellent read about the Moore County Hounds (I wish I had written it!), and also as a model newspaper article about foxhunting. Ted Fitzgerald’s photographs are first-rate as well.
Posted January 16, 2018