On a recent Saturday the Old Chatham Hunt (NY) had a rare hunting day. Hounds ran their first coyote hard for an hour before huntsman and staff had to stop them from going into country where it was difficult to follow. Hounds then found another coyote and ran it through their wooded country in fine voice for another forty-five minutes to finish an excellent day of hunting. What’s remarkable about that? one might ask. Nothing, except that the huntsman had never hunted a pack of hounds before in his life until that day.
At the end of last season, Old Chatham members made some difficult and controversial organizational changes in an effort to improve their sport. A new huntsman—Tommy Hopkins—was named, and a new Master—Jef Murdock—was appointed. Hopkins had been whipping-in for years and was familiar with the hounds, but Murdock, though he’d been following hounds as a field member for years, was better known for his skiing acumen—he owns the popular Butternut ski area in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts—than for his prowess with foxhounds.