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Rockbridge Hunt Joint-Master Hugh Brown (center), described his hunt's successful reading group to writers Mary Kalergis and Norman Fine.
“Tell me a story,” is one of my favorite sentences in the English language. So I responded enthusiastically when Hugh Brown, MFH told me about the reading group organized by the Rockbridge Hunt (VA). The Masters hit a responsive chord. Even members of nearby hunts have been attracted to join.
By keeping the literature of foxhunting alive, the Rockbridge Masters have found another way to further engage their members into this sport we all love. What better way to absorb our history and traditions while reveling in the humor and entertainment of a good story?
“The reading group is the brainchild of longtime Master Cindy Morton,” says Brown who raided his extensive library to help kick-start the operation. “We specifically didn’t want to limit it to Rockbridge Hunt members, and we definitely wanted to focus on foxhunting. We've had great discussions on related subjects like big game hunting in Africa and bear hunting, but we always return to the fox (and coyote).
How to Tame a Fox (And Build a Dog) by By Lee Alan Dugatkin and Lyudmila Trut, The University of Chicago Press, 2017, 216 pagesIt is accepted science that dogs evolved from wolves about fifteen thousand years ago. One can imagine, back in primitive times, certain needy wolves sidling up to man for food and shelter. Or orphaned cubs being saved by primitive families. In those relationships that proved successful, both wolf and man discovered advantages. Even disregarding love and companionship (those were harder times), the wolf was assured access to food and shelter in all seasons, and man discovered a hunting partner that contributed to his well-being and that of his family. The domesticated wolves, genetically disposed to the relationship, bred with others so disposed, and succeeding generations over the millennia evolved into purpose-bred dogs.
But just how did that evolution occur? It hasn’t been recorded. What if you could speed up the process and witness it? Two Soviet geneticists tried to do just that. They wanted to try to breed foxes as friendly to people as dogs, and this is their story—“part science, part Russian fairy tale, and part spy thriller,” says The New York Times Book Review.
Six Centuries of Foxhunting: An Annotated Bibliography by M.L. Biscotti, Foreword by Norman Fine, Rowman & Littlefield, 2017, 499 pages, illustrated, $85.00 hardbound, $80.00 eBookWithin Six Centuries of Foxhunting, Matthew “Duke” Biscotti has collected the essential facts of every bit of literature on the subject of foxhunting that was published prior to the year 2000. A lot of years, a lot of sport, a lot of huntsmen, horses, hounds, and foxes for many lifetimes.
Biscotti’s volume is destined to be a bible for antiquarian booksellers, scholars, collectors, and writers of sporting literature. But the book’s appeal will be a great deal broader. Biscotti gives us so much related and fascinating information about the listed author, the subject, and the times that the volume invites browsing, as does a good encyclopedia.