It’s time for our annual report on the recent moves of huntsmen across North America. The huntsman is my hero. From the time we mount up and for the few hours that follow, it is he or she most directly responsible for the day’s sport. How the huntsman has bred, trained, deployed, and communicated with his troops—the hounds—has everything to do with the satisfaction of our day in the field.
The moves have been numerous this season, and, in a two cases, we have experienced whippers-in finally achieving their dream of a pack of their own to hunt. We’ll catch up with Alasdair Storer, Andrew Bozdan, Kathryn Butler, Stephen Farrin, Danny Kerr, Emily Melton, and Timothy Michel.
The 2019 Carolinas Hound Show was hosted by the Moore County Hounds on May 11th at Lyell’s Meadow in the Walthour Moss Foundation, a paradise for horsemen and naturalists in the sand hills of Southern Pines, NC. The Foundation was formed in 1974 by Pappy and Ginny Moss, MFHs of the Moore County Hounds (NC), as a charitable trust of 1,700 acres preserved in perpetuity. With additional gifts through the succeeding years from Ginny Moss and others, the Foundation now totals more than 4,000 acres and represents Moore County’s principal hunting country.
Hounds competed in three rings, Crossbred in Ring 1, Penn-Marydel in Ring 2, and English, American, and Foot packs in Ring 3. That one ring is dedicated entirely to Penn-Marydel hounds, and English and American foxhounds are combined in one ring with foot hounds, strikes this reporter as a noteworthy indication of the growing affinity for Penn-Marydel foxhounds amongst North American hunts well outside of the breed’s native region of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. Concomitantly, the consequence must be a reduction in the numbers of Pure English and American types now being hunted in these southern Atlantic states.
As foxhunters, we all look forward to Hunt Ball Weekend. For many hunts, it’s a time when the season is winding down, and we try to truly savor the invigorating mornings remaining of another season spent with our horses, hounds, and friends.
Hunt Ball Weekend in Camden, South Carolina, is no different. This year, however, we spread the enjoyment more than a little by inviting Fred Berry, MFH and huntsman, Sedgefield Hunt (NC), his hounds, and the Sedgefield members to join us. We spread the fun with three days of things to do and places to go—two hunts, one for each pack, and a hunt ball.
The MFHA’s Ian Milne Award is a serious tribute to accomplished huntsmen across North America. It is awarded periodically to a huntsman of sound character who has made outstanding contributions to the sport of foxhunting. Recipients of the Ian Milne Award have learned the hard lessons of the field and the kennels as well as in life, and they have learned to do it right.
This year, that honoree is Donald Philhower, huntsman for the Millbrook Hounds in New York State. Consider the namesake whom the award personifies.
Ian Milne was respected and liked by all. His hunt service began in England and continued until his last breath here in North America. He was a genuine friend and a generous mentor to aspiring and established huntsmen. He was a gentleman, honest as the day is long, and he lived for hounds and hunting.
Since last year I have been trying to hunt with George Harne’s private Maryland pack, the Last Chance Hounds. This season I finally managed one day out with them and had a great morning, despite having Frankie’s bridle slip off, falling flat rectifying it, and finally being dragged a ways on my stomach. At least I did not let go. It was kindly described at breakfast as being “seventy-five percent elegant.” This is a small, close-knit group, and I felt lucky to have been able to join them.
Shortly after this outing I learned that friend Karen Miller was accompanying them to the Moore County Hound Performance Trial, an MFHA Hark Forward event in North Carolina the second weekend in October. We agreed to drive down together. The six hounds entered were traveling with huntsman Lisa Reid and whipper-in Marie LaBaw. Master George Harne was driving down with his friend, Roy Good, leaving at 1:30 Friday morning because George said he would be “too excited to sleep” anyway. Lisa and Marie were leaving at 4:30 Friday morning. Despite the fact that the first trial event was not until 4:00 pm Friday, Karen and I simultaneously agreed we were leaving at “10 o’clock Thursday morning.” No getting up in the dark unless absolutely necessary. This is an annual trip for the group but the first Performance Trial for Karen and me. We were stoked.