Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound
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FHL WEEK, November 21, 2019

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Why We Hunt...Even On a Hopeless Day

Hunt Reports

coyote on hay roll.lynne thompsonIllustration by Lynne Thompson

Hunting in dry conditions is a challenge at best, but hunting in the dry and heat...like sweltering heat...is tantamount to impossible. There had been no rain for about six weeks, so dust was also a contributor to our less than optimal hunting day. But there are those of us who are not fair weather hunters, and it doesn't matter the weather because as the saying goes, “A bad day hunting beats a good day in the office.” So we found ourselves lightly trotting, mostly walking behind the Hillsboro Hounds (TN) because pressing hounds, horses, and humans on a day like that would have been foolhardy and irresponsible.

In a slow and deliberate way we continued on, grateful for when we were able to tuck into a shaded wood, or check on the edge of the shade of a tree line. Yes, there was babbling, but not from the hounds—from the field, quietly. But there is just so much a body can take without some comment. Well, maybe a bit more babbling than necessary, but there you have it. The most dedicated foxhunter can reach their limits of silence, and I was about to reach mine. But my mare was keen, so I continued admiring the day, cursing the heat, and praying that the weather would soon cooperate and we would have rain and cooler temperatures. Today, this was not to be.

We could hear the occasional hound voice and knew they were rather near and working, but not so much as to be distracted by our attempts at entertaining ourselves with the occasional heavy sigh, rolling eyes, quips about questioning our sanity. You know that sort of day. Hounds and huntsman were trying their best, but scenting was non-existent and we were about to call it a morning. Then we rounded a corner and, surprise!

There, sitting like a king on his throne was Wily. This coyote was not one bit intimidated by us riders, but we were certainly surprised by him. He simply sat there—King of All He Surveyed—and appeared to be enjoying the effect that he had on abruptly halting our babbling and progress. We were all struggling to whip out whatever photographic equipment we had to try to get a shot, but we were not in range to use our mere camera phones to great effect. Field member Kristine Hopfensperger managed to shoot a video that at least documented, however grainy, what we were witnessing.

The coyote, becoming bored with us and feeling the presence of encroaching hounds, nonchalantly jumped from the hay bale and languidly trotted off. As he was leaving I think I heard him mumble something like, “Humans are so weird.” He was in no hurry as he disappeared into his wooded kingdom leaving us all with our mouths agape and hounds in slow but sure pursuit. He was smart though, and made away safely.

Hunting never ceases to surprise. We all thought that this hunting day would end as unimpressively as it began until our coyote graced us with a sight we will always remember—King Wily Coyote surveying his kingdom from a lofty hay roll.

Posted November 11, 2019

Clarice Jones Tate is a foxhunting member of the Hillsboro Hounds (TN) and purveyor of fine sporting antiques, vintage jewelry, and contemporary gifts through her shop and website, Anderson Jones. The fine illustration was provided by Lynne Thompson, another foxhunter at Hillsboro.