with Horse and Hound

Looking at the Huntsman

nodh.klmNo hunting all summer. The huntsman must be having himself a nice vacation, right? Wrong. There’s an old saying that “foxes are killed in kennel,” meaning that all the good work you see in the field during the hunting season is established during the off-season in the training of the young entry and in the making of the pack. Feed, care, routine, discipline, and exercise through the hot summer months all add up to performance in the field. Then there’s the whelping and care of the puppies who will be entered not this season, but the next. All told, summer is an exceedingly busy time for any huntsman who plans to field a high mettle pack of hounds and show good sport.

As the summer weeks slide by and the start of the informal season approaches, Foxhunting Life will have a look at the huntsman in the next few issues, including some of the legendary huntsmen of the past to see what they had to teach us about the handling of hounds in the field. Chances are, when the season comes alive, you will see your own huntsman employing similar techniques in the handling of his or her hounds in pursuit of the quarry.

This week we look at the famous Tom Smith cast (below). And while we’re at it, let’s all agree that a cast is what a huntsman does with his hounds when he wishes to recover a lost line, as opposed to drawing for the quarry before hounds have found.

The most common cast is the “round the hat” cast in which the huntsman takes hounds in a large circle around the area where hounds lost, making certain that he brings them a distance back of where they lost in case the fox doubled back on the line. Tom Smith’s cast is that huntsman’s unique variation of the “round the hat” cast.

Posted August 14, 2018