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Camden Hunt

camden

Camden, Kershaw Co., South Carolina.

Website: www.camdenhunt.com


 lori and karen“He’s hunted twice; let’s take him to the Field Trial.” Author Lori Brunnen in the foreground, riding Sunny. Saved from the abattoir, he took to the hunting field like a veteran. Karen Miller accompanies Lori.  /   Amy Gesell photo

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.

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Hounds

 lori and karen“He’s hunted twice; let’s take him to the Field Trial.” Author Lori Brunnen in the foreground, riding Sunny. Saved from the abattoir, he took to the hunting field like a veteran. Karen Miller accompanies Lori.  /   Amy Gesell photo

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.

 

 

 

 

lincoln sadlerMoore County huntsman Lincoln Sadler served as Trial Huntsman.  /   Lori Brunnen photoActual departure time was 11:30 am from the local Starbucks. This was the first time Karen was driving her gooseneck for any distance so we took it slow and easy. Traffic was relatively steady through the DC-Northern Virginia bottleneck. When we got close we started getting worried texts from George who was afraid we would arrive in the dark. Too late, that horse has already left the barn. We spoke to Moore County huntsman Lincoln Sadler, explaining that we were following the directions included in the registration information. Lincoln asked “What directions?” Gulp. Then he said those were written by his wife (Cameron Sadler, MFH) and that we should “ignore them.”

The sign to the Field Trial Grounds was indeed large and we swung left when it loomed in the headlights. Feeling sure the six-way intersection would be obvious, we realized when we reached it that it was simply the intersection of six sand roads which we confirmed by stopping to count. As instructed we bore left, not a hard left, but a soft sort of left. Creeping along the pitch black sand road we recognized the glow ahead as our destination. “There is no other structure on the sand roads until this clubhouse.” Despite the fact that I had reserved a stall, there was more than enough room for two horses in the paddock Karen had reserved. The grounds were empty except for us. After unloading, unhooking, and feeding horses, we retraced what seemed a much shorter trip to the hotel. It was 9:30pm by the time we got there. Peanut butter sandwiches with wine for dinner, a little TV, and we hit the hay.

The first trial event was numbering the hounds at 4:00 pm on Friday. Karen and I decided to visit the Cabin Branch Tack Shop in Southern Pines in the morning. Very nice shop where I bought a “magic” sponge. Last March Madness at Bull Run in Virginia, I left Horse Country with a pair of ten-dollar bell boots. Fine shopping establishments are wasted on me. Either I have everything I need or am too cheap to buy what I don’t. For lunch we hit Betsy’s Crepes. Ordered a “savory” crepe when I really wanted a Nutella and whipped cream “sweet” crepe extravaganza. I still regret it a little. Glad we had the chance because by Sunday the place was gutted for renovations. Southern Pines is charming. After lunch we headed for the trial grounds to feed our horses and watch hounds being numbered.

marie and krackenMarie LaBaw paints the number on her house hound, Kracken.  /   Lori Brunnen photo

While we were feeding, Lisa and Marie were the first to arrive with hounds. Marking options were stencils, paint brush, bleach or hair dye. Marie wielded the brush while Lisa steadied the hounds. Karen and I simply held hounds while they dried which was almost immediate. Since we did not need to attend the Judges meeting we returned to the hotel until cocktails and dinner were scheduled to roll out. Something different at this trial was that the huntsman of each entered pack would be doing the judging. An independent huntsman would hunt the combined packs, while the judges rode up forward with hounds. I am familiar with Field Trial judging from my years coursing my whippets, although they are judged on different abilities. Coursing hounds were judged on speed, agility, endurance, enthusiasm, and follow. The foxhounds would be judged on hunting, trailing, full cry, endurance and marking. Different categories to judge scent hounds versus sight hounds.

By the time we returned for cocktails things had livened up with the arrival of attendees from Aiken, Cedar Knob, Last Chance, Thornton Hill, Camden, Mecklenburg, Sedgefield, and Wiggins hunts. Arriving as well were George and Roy who had gotten an unavoidable late start waiting for Roy’s girlfriend. Moore County hospitality was enjoyed by a congenial group drawn together to celebrate hounds. The porch was a quiet place to sit. George seems to know everyone. He is even friends with the people at the BP station on the corner. Weather was cool and unseasonable with no sign of the oppressive weather of the week before. Moore County Huntsman Lincoln Sadler, Belle Meade MFH Epp Wilson and MFHA Executive Director David Twiggs explained the trial process and function. This is the second time I have met the gregarious David Twiggs, and I am convinced he will do great things for the sport. No doubt the final stern reminder that if your hound’s number could not be read, the hound could not be judged, sent a few scurrying to double check their marking jobs.

george and roy(l-r) George Harne, MFH, Last Chance Hounds, Lori Brunnen, Roy Good  /   Amy Gesell photo

Saturday’s ratcatcher hunt would start at 8:00 am on the nine-thousand-acre J. Robert Gordon Field Trial Grounds. When the alarm went off in the morning I told Karen that the digital reading on my bedside clock had not moved off 6:30 for twelve hours. Turns out I had been looking at the temperature setting on the air conditioner beneath the window. Arriving at the grounds both of us heard the unmistakable gurgling of a coffee percolator coming from our neighbors in the Wiggins Hunt trailer. Unfortunately it turned out to be their water tank.

My mount Sunny—slaughter bound in January before I bought him—has roaded hounds once and hunted once this season. Time to take him to a Field Trial. So far he was handling the trip and trial grounds commotion like a veteran.

The hounds from all the packs were combined and gathered around huntsman Lincoln Sadler as if they had always been together. Hacking down the sand road in front of the Clubhouse, Sunny was taking some minor offense to the kimberwick rein being attached to the lower slot. He was otherwise completely unfazed by the number of hounds and horses, the likes of which he had never seen before. With Sunny being neither fit nor experienced, I stuck to the tiny Hilltopper group. Leaving the road we stepped into deep sand, clumps of pine and coarse grass. As we paused, I spotted a backpacker. Then another. They were everywhere. These were the Special Forces from Fort Bragg on a training exercise.

special forces traineeKaren Miller interrogates her captive, a special forces trainee.  /   Lori Brunnen photoWalking slowly, pausing to check their bearings, then resuming their trek, they could not have been better designed to unhinge a horse. Their eighty-pound packs loomed over their heads making them appear even creepier. They filled the woods in every direction. One of our field members needed to be escorted back, and in the process Karen and I lost the hounds, unfortunately. We did spend a couple of pleasant hours looking for them unsuccessfully. Popped over a couple of logs and avoided the “green grass,” bogs that George said would swallow us without a trace. The area is quite beautiful. We returned to the clubhouse in time for breakfast and a short rehash of the day. Hounds did run a coyote, and Lincoln said, sadly, some hounds did not receive scores due to illegible numbers. Some of us retired to our hotels and some to recheck their hound’s markings. Again. Quick stop at the BP station for George’s pork rinds. Dinner that night was an all you can eat oyster roast at the lovely Moore County Kennels. Moore County hospitality simply cannot be beaten. Settling for bed we relaxed watching “When Animals Attack.”

Sunday morning we met George in the lobby at 6:00, interrupting him giving the breakfast lady advice on her man troubles. By 8:00 we were mounted and heading out into the fog and rows of pines behind the clubhouse. Kimberwick on the upper slot this time. Again, creeping along silently in the mist among the trees were the special forces. This time we were behind George and Roy who kept us close to the fields and seemed to know exactly where they, and everyone else, was. We passed one of the soldiers who broke his silence by saying quietly, “Ma’am, a big red fox just passed through here.” The first run George thought was a grey fox based on how it ran.

The test tubes of yellow fluid taped to a white pole in the middle of nowhere where not urine specimens but light sticks. You break them. Before Lincoln clarified this at breakfast we had concocted many twisted theories of our own. Some involving DNA. George did not really tell us we needed to leave a urine specimen, I made that up. Breakfast followed, and final placings were announced.

Our neighbors the Wiggins Hunt brought one hound and left with an armful of ribbons. The Last Chance Hounds finished with one top five hound overall for hunting, two top ten hounds overall for trailing, 4 of 6 hounds in the top 25 overall and a sixth place Hunt score. Great results even before considering that the six competing hounds equal three-quarters of the entire Last Chance pack!

Coming with an unfit novice horse, I knew ahead of time that I would not be burning up any country. And that was fine. Karen and I proved to be compatible travel companions with the apparent shared ability to go anywhere with a jar of peanut butter, a loaf of bread, and a cooler full of ice. It wasn’t until the last day that she even mentioned “my nest,” referring to the open suitcase out of which I live, which is never moved from where I first drop it. She said it did not bother her.

It was a wonderful weekend. Beautiful country, lovely weather, incredible hospitality, great company, and of course the hounds. In the end it is all about the hounds. I feel lucky to have been able to enjoy it with this small private pack. It is impossible not to notice the deep friendship between George and Roy. They are two of the most naturally funny people I have ever met. And they know everyone. And I am grateful that I have met them. The quiet mutual respect between Master and huntsman is easy to see. Lisa is dead serious about her hounds. Most obvious of all is the utter devotion to their hounds displayed by the three leaders. Unresolved is whether the breakfast lady dumped her lowdown, cheating man.

Posted November 7, 2017

Lori Brunnen is a regular contributor to FHL. She brightens our pages with her unique brand of humor, observing and sharing those odd, personal moments that resonate in all of our foxhunting lives.

wws heythrop r achelWhy Worry Hounds' Heythrop Rachel 2011 is Grand Champion of the 2016 Carolinas Hound Show.

Why Worry’s Heythrop Rachel 2011 was judged Grand Champion at the fortieth annual Carolinas Hound Show held at the Springdale Racecourse in Camden, South Carolina on May 7, 2016. It’s one thing for a visiting MFH to pick up a nice draft to bring back to the home kennels; it’s another thing entirely to know what to do with it. Here’s where George and Jeannie Thomas, MFHs, Why Worry Hounds (SC), showed their breeding acumen.

While visiting friends in England and judging a puppy show at the Heythrop kennels, George mentioned that he needed a bi*ch* to introduce new bloodlines into his breeding program. We have just the hound for you, he was told. So he brought home a nicely-bred entered bi*ch, Heythrop Rachel 2011.

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carolinas15.david traxlerGrand Champion Hillsboro Graphic '14 with professional whipper-in Leilani Hrisko. Judges (l-r) are MFHs Tony Leahy and Dr. Jack Van Nagell / David Traxler photoHillsboro Graphic '14 was judged Grand Champion of Show at the thirty-ninth annual Carolinas Hound Show held at the Springdale Race Course in Camden, South Carolina on May 8 and 9, 2015.

Whelped to royal bloodlines—American on the sire’s side and English on the dam’s side—it should have been no surprise to see Graphic garner top honors. Her sire is Hillsboro Jethro '08, son of the magnificent Potomac Jefferson '05, Grand Champion Foxhound at Virginia in the year of the MFHA Centennial celebration, 2007.

On the dam’s side, Graphic goes back in tail female to North Cotswold Grapefruit '95, a Peterborough Champion and dam of several influential foxhounds in North America including Iroquois Grundy '98, Master Jerry Miller’s all-time favorite foxhound, and Mid-Devon Grocer '00, sire of Virginia and Bryn Mawr champion hounds from Blue Ridge.

Foxhounds from fourteen hunts and five states trod the flags at Carolinas: Aiken, Camden, DeLa Brooke, Green Creek, Hillsboro, Keswick, Lowcountry, Moore County, Red Mountain, Sedgefield, Tennessee Valley, Tryon, Whiskey Road, and Why Worry.

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wilkes.chad.karenmChad Wilkes moves from Camden to Blue Ridge / Karen Myers photo

By common agreement among hunts and professional hunt staff, April 30/May 1 is the long-accepted transition date for hunt staff changes. In a round robin of moves, the Blue Ridge Hunt (VA), Camden Hunt (SC), and Old Dominion Hounds (VA) all connected and cooperated in making changes for the upcoming season effective this date.

After two seasons as second whipper-in at Blue Ridge, Ross Salter was hired by Old Dominion to whip-in to professional huntsman Gerald Keal there.

With that opening and huntsman Dennis Downing having given his notice of resignation to be effective one year from now, April 30, 2012, the Blue Ridge Masters looked to the future and hired Chad Wilkes, Camden huntsman for the past nine seasons, as kennel huntsman. Wilkes will whip-in to Downing during that huntsman’s last season at Blue Ridge.

Downing looks forward to continuing hunting hounds, but has not yet decided where that will be.

To fill the huntsman’s opening at Camden, the Camden Masters brought back former huntsman Kurt Krucke. Krucke hunted the Camden hounds from 1996 to 2004, most recently serving as huntsman for the Tennessee Valley Hunt (last season) and the Flat Branch Foxhounds in Aiken, South Carolina for six seasons.

Posted May 1, 2011

salter.ross.karenmRoss Salter moves from Blue Ridge to Old Dominion / Karen Myers photo

krucke.kurt.gretchen.pelhamKurt Krucke moves from the Tennessee Valley Hunt back to the Camden Hunt / Gretchen Pelham photo

 

 

 

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