The Belle Meade Hunt was whelped by a group of horsemen who had been meeting for regular trail rides. Their usual route from Stagecoach Road took them to the Rock Dam and finally to the Boy Scout Cabin, where they often stayed for a cookout and sometimes an overnight and homeward ride in the morning. These are familiar landmarks to anyone who has visited and enjoyed the hunting at Belle Meade.
The organizational meeting to establish the hunt was held in August of 1966 at the home of James E. Wilson, Jr in Thomson, Georgia at the behest of William Preston Smith. Mr. Smith suggested the name Belle Meade after his family home in Virginia and suggested that Confederate Cavalry yellow be adopted as the hunt’s colors. Mr. Smith also designed the Hunt’s emblem. Mr. Wilson was elected president.
Gustav Schickedanz, ex-MFH, Eglinton and Caledon Hunt (ON), 2009 inductee into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, emigré from war-ravaged Europe, died peacefully at his Schönberg Farm in Ontario on Monday, June 17, 2019. A horseman from his earliest days, Gus was a loveable, courtly, and fascinating man who had personally witnessed the best and the worst of life’s offerings during his ninety years on this planet.
Gus’s life trajectory included the pleasures of a childhood with horses on the three hundred acre family farm in East Prussia, the terror of his family’s flight from the Russians across Germany in World War II, the struggles of gaining entrance to Canada and a new life, achieving wealth through building a successful construction and development company from scratch, the breeding of stakes winners, and the satisfactions derived from devotion to family, horses, and foxhunting.
The radio crackled.“Tally-Ho coyote at the Catfish Pond headed west.”
It was the first day of our annual Joint Meet weekend with the Shakerag Hounds (GA), and we had just unkenneled 22-1/2 couple of hounds. Whipper-in John Bell had already left—standard operating procedure—to get into position for the draw and viewed the coyote away even before we put hounds in. Tally Ho Lake is in the southeast corner of our hunting territory, where only two herds of cattle remain in our entire country.
Eric Myer, DVM, is currently in his sixty-sixth season of foxhunting. And not just with one hunt. No, no. If that were the case, the hunting season would be far too short to suit him.
At eighty-two, Eric begins his season in mid-July up north near Rochester, New York with the Genesee Valley Hunt. His wife Martha has roots in Geneseo, and the couple has a summer farm there. Then, in mid-October, when the Piedmont Fox Hounds are well into their cubhunting season down south in Virginia, Eric and Martha return to their Boyce farm in the Shenandoah Valley.
Two days of hard hunting on November 6 and 7, 2018 behind a pack of fifty-four foxhounds—each of which qualified for this championship event by placing among the top ten of one or more of the performance trials over the past year—concluded the MFHA Hark Forward! Performance Trial Season. The season of performance trials, field hunter trials, and joint meets which began last year were conceived by MFHA president Tony Leahy and Master Epp Wilson, Belle Meade Hunt (GA), to reprise, during Leahy’s tenure as president, the spirit of the MFHA Centennial celebrations ten years earlier.
The Performance Trial Championship event was matured, expanded, organized, and staged to perfection by the Masters of the Midland Fox Hounds (GA) in their Fitzpatrick, Alabama hunting country. More than two hundred people representing more than forty hunts participated. Foxhounds from twenty-four hunts competed. Ashley Hubbard, professional huntsman at the Green Spring Valley Hounds (MD), served as trial huntsman for this all-star pack.
Late in the Twentieth Century, advances in radio communications infiltrated the traditional sport of foxhunting, whether welcomed by all foxhunters or not. Today, hand-held radios and cell phones are as much a part of most hunt staffs’ kit as the horn and the whip.
More recently, online Tax maps and Google Maps, two Twenty-First Century high tech developments, are being used to assist Masters and staff in better organizing their hunting country. Epp Wilson, MFH and huntsman of the Belle Meade Hunt (GA) and his members take advantage of the technology to assist in landowner relations and improving the sport. First, let’s consider what the technology offers, then how Wilson uses it.