Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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jef murdock.kleckNewly appointed Old Chatham MFH Jef Murdock tells how it feels to hunt hounds for the very first time. / Nancy Kleck photoOn a recent Saturday the Old Chatham Hunt (NY) had a rare hunting day. Hounds ran their first coyote hard for an hour before huntsman and staff had to stop them from going into country where it was difficult to follow. Hounds then found another coyote and ran it through their wooded country in fine voice for another forty-five minutes to finish an excellent day of hunting. What’s remarkable about that? one might ask. Nothing, except that the huntsman had never hunted a pack of hounds before in his life until that day.

At the end of last season, Old Chatham members made some difficult and controversial organizational changes in an effort to improve their sport. A new huntsman—Tommy Hopkins—was named, and a new Master—Jef Murdock—was appointed. Hopkins had been whipping-in for years and was familiar with the hounds, but Murdock, though he’d been following hounds as a field member for years, was better known for his skiing acumen—he owns the popular Butternut ski area in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts—than for his prowess with foxhounds.

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new englad.2012Grand Champion North Country Luna and (l-r) Jim Faber, judge; North Country huntsman Sandy Studer; Kendall Woodward; Owen Hughes, MFH, Norfolk Hunt; Vernon Studer, MFH, North Country Hounds  /  Sue Greenall photo

A Crossbred bitch rolled down to Massachusetts from the hills of Vermont and snatched the Grand Championship trophy from its habitual resting place at the venerable Myopia Hunt kennels. North Country Luna 2008 was judged Grand Champion of the New England Hound Show, hosted this year at the Berlin, Massachusetts home of Virginia Zukatynski, MFH, Old North Bridge Hounds on June 10, 2012.

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full_cry_largoFull Cry Largo, hunting back home, just after being judged top hound at the Belle Meade Foxhound Performance Trials. She still carries her number 17, which was painted on her for the competition. Adrian Jennings photoFull Cry Largo was judged top hound at the Belle Meade Foxhound Performance Trials held in Thomson, Georgia on February 25 and 26. Belle Meade Lifeguard was runner-up to Largo, and, with three hounds in the top ten, Belle Meade took top honors among the hunts. For complete results, click here.

“Largo's story is a great testament to how hunts and huntsman can work together to help each other out and find the right fit for hounds,” says  David Hyman, MFH and huntsman of the Full Cry Hounds (AL). “It's truly a unique fraternity.”

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