At breakfast this Thursday morning, Joan reminded me that Memorial Day was just a few days away. Boy, it sure didn’t feel like it.
Normally, we’d have been recently back from our hunt’s kennels having watched the practice hound show, afterwards assessing our hounds’ prospects for ribbons and trophies at the Virginia Foxhound Show. Which should have been on the calendar for this weekend. We would have been looking forward to seeing old hunting friends from across North America, and I would have been assuring Joan that I had remembered to send in our reservations for the reception at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting and the dinner under the tent at Morven Park (whether I had, in fact, remembered or not). In short, I would have been looking forward to an important and unique weekend of camaraderie and foxhound study.
Three foxhounds from the Shawnee Hounds (IL) finished among the overall top ten scorers (out of twenty-four hounds that completed the trials) propelling Shawnee to first place among the six other competing hunts. Following Shawnee, in order of finish, were Hillsboro Hounds (TN) second and Tennessee Valley Hunt (TN) third. Other competing hunts were Belle Meade Hunt (GA), Midland Foxhounds (GA), Mission Valley Hunt Club (KS), and Bull Run Hunt (VA). The trials were hosted by Belle Meade in their Thomson, Georgia country on January 17-18, 2020.
Shawnee supporters were ecstatic as the results were announced. Not bad for first-season huntsman Kalie Wallace! Shawnee Master and former huntsman Dr. Mark Smith, who has been the brains behind the hunt’s breeding program, handed the horn over to Kalie at the start of this season.
Two weeks, 3,700 miles, eight hunting days, six different hunts, too many friends to count, one hellova good time....
What do you do when you are stuck in the cold winter weather of Northern Illinois and have not been hunting for two months? A road trip! Lucky for me, and all of us, foxhunting is a small but welcoming world. While there are a variety of ways to hunt, we all welcome fellow fox hunters to join us, and, as Jorrocks said, "Tell me a man's a fox-hunter, and I loves him at once."
More than six hundred foxhounds from thirty-seven hunts were exhibited at the Virginia Foxhound Show at Morven Park on Sunday, May 26, 2019, over the Labor Day Weekend. Hunts from thirteen states up and down the Eastern Seaboard and from as far away as Texas brought foxhounds to stand up against the finest examples of their breeds in North America. It is the largest foxhound show in the world.
In the always exciting final class of the show, four foxhound Champions—American, English, Crossbred, and Penn-Marydel—presented themselves to be judged for this year’s Grand Championship Class. It’s always a difficult class to judge because each entry has already been winnowed down throughout the day’s classes and has been chosen as the best specimen of its type by the judges in each ring. Each hound is deserving, and the attention and hopes of all spectators, though friendly, are ratcheted to a new level.
The sheer beauty of a level pack of foxhounds is indisputable. There is a uniformity of appearance and traits, and such a pack tends to run well together. But isn't there another option?
Why not a pack consisting of foxhounds of various types, welcoming the unique attributes of each hound type? Breeders know that no single type offers all the best attributes we want in a pack; hence the English-American Crossbred. But within those two categories there are still more individual types with more concentrated attributes that could allow each type to contribute at the appropriate stage of any hunt just when needed.