Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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FHL wants your hunt reports! Stories and photos. Submit yours here.

The Donegal Harriers at Beltrim Castle, County Tyrone

donegal harriers.mullinsDonegal Harriers president and honorary whipper-in Ger O’Riain, MFH and Dr. Lucinda Blakiston-Houston, honorary whipper-in and hostess of the meet at Beltrim Castle in County Tyrone  /   Noel Mullins photo.

The Donegal Harriers, formed in 1999, is a relatively new pack by Irish standards. It is also the first pack of registered harriers in County Donegal, the northernmost county in the west of Ireland, replacing the Strabane Foxhounds that hunted the country until 1977.

The pack was meeting in Gortin in the Owenkillew River Valley on the outskirts of Omagh, over the border in County Tyrone. Upon visiting, first impressions could easily lead to the conclusion that the only significant activities in this quiet, remote, rustic village was Mossey’s Bar, Pedlar’s Cafe, and a Farmer’s Market on a Monday! But scratching beneath the surface, there is a rare gem in Beltrim Castle, built in 1780.

Bridlespur Hunt Celebrates 90th Anniversary

hartwell.eleanor.sizedHuntsman Eleanor Hartwell and the foxhounds of the Bridlespur Hunt

This year, 2017, marks the ninetieth season for the Bridlespur Hunt Club (MO). The Club has survived two World Wars, loss of land, uprooting of hounds and clubhouse, and hopefully will endure for another ninety years at least. Over the years, the Hunt has been honored by the patronship and Mastership of wonderfully dedicated individuals.

Bridlespur was founded in 1927 with the support and assistance of the late Mr. August A. Busch, Sr., president of Anheuser-Busch and brewer of what is still the most popular beer in the U.S. Mr. Busch obtained his original draft of hounds from the well-known Joseph B. Thomas1-Percy Rockefeller pack at Overhills, North Carolina. The pack consisted entirely of American hounds or, as better known, Virginia Hounds. By careful breeding and observation the two guiding spirits of the hunt, Mr. August A. Busch, Jr.2 and Mr. Adelbert von Gontard, Sr., developed a pack with most excellent nose and voice. Today, the pack consists mainly of Crossbred hounds.

Whipping-In Is a Rush

ddl fox huntingWhipping-in on Fearnought, the author's favorite.Cold and wet from rain on my thirty-six-inch pony Toy Mouse, with my fearless two-legged leader...mom Caroline...at the other end of the lead-line: that’s how I became addicted to a sport known as foxhunting. When we got in from hunting, my wool hunt coat weighed more than I did.

Since then, every autumn, from age four until now (not going to disclose that, but I’ve finished college!), there is a sense of anticipation and adrenaline that rushes through my veins. Foxhunters know how the goose bumps rise on your skin the moment those hunting hounds open up on a fresh scent of a fox or coyote, and away they go! This adrenaline rush only multiples, if you can believe it, when a person is allowed to have the honor of being a whipper-in.

Going Home

black.ron.portraitCumbrian foot hunter Ron Black, a purist.“I am a native Lakelander,” writes Ron Black, “with roots going back to 1700, the fourth generation to follow hounds, with ancestors who stood on the cold tops at dawn, moved the heavy Lakeland stone to free trapped terriers, and also carried the horn on occasions. Hunting will not come back in the foreseeable future, perhaps not at all, but for three hundred years hunting and the church were the central thread to many communities. This is a part of the story.”

Ron Black has been a regular contributor to Foxhunting Life with his stories of hunting in the rugged fells of England’s Lake District. Foot hunting—the only pure way to hunt, Ron insists. And this, he also insists, is his farewell story.

I sat in the lee of the big boulder and watched the rainstorm disappear down the valley. Signs of its passing were everywhere. Small runnels of water ran down the fell side, water dripped off the crag behind me, and I was soaked. Oblivious to the rain, the huntsman remained out in the open, one foot up on a small boulder, his coat open to the waist.