Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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

The Best Day...On the Planet...Ever

lori brunnen on ozzyJackets excused, we started out on this warm early autumn day by hacking left out of the drive and down Lees Mill Road. Passing behind one of the houses a man was bent over a small back door garden while an elderly man watched from the adjacent deck. Although he looked our way the elderly man did not respond to our waves, standing with his arms slack at his sides. The younger man pointed at us and, barely audible, I heard him say we were “looking for the fox.” Closing in on the one year anniversary of the death of my father-in-law, it was a bittersweet scene. Much more sweet than bitter to witness this quiet exchange between what I imagined to be an adult son and his father.

Approaching the creek crossing we heard a whipper-in’s view halloa ahead of us. Shortly after that we heard third field’s view; they had crossed the creek the usual way by the machine shed. The run lasted roughly an hour-and-a-half. At one point there were simultaneous views on opposite sides of the strip of corn running alongside Doss Garland Drive. There were views being called all over the place. Hearing them ahead of me I rushed up only to miss them. Second Field was viewing behind me, and I missed those, too.

Sedgefield Hunt—Members and Hounds—Go Visiting

farnley.fred.grahamSedgefield Master and huntsman Fred Berry (left) visits with his pack of Penn-Marydels. Blue Ridge huntsman Graham Buston (right) was his guide for the day.  /  Nancy Kleck photo

The Sedgefield Hunt, founded in 1927, hunt a pack of Penn-Marydel foxhounds in the Piedmont region of North Carolina and Southern Virginia. We are a small hunt, but we have big fun, and we love our hounds. Last November we took a road trip to Northern Virginia to hunt with Blue Ridge and Thornton Hill. Six members, ten couple of hounds, eight horses and Ellie Mae, my mule, hit the road.

Fred Berry, MFH and huntsman, and his wife Elaine went up first and had a great day with Blue Ridge and their magnificent pack of Modern English and Crossbred hounds. On our day with Thornton Hill, which also hunts Penn-Marydels, the packs were put together. In our final outing with Blue Ridge, Fred was invited to hunt our Penn-Marydels. I'm told that for 275 years—from the time George Washington hunted with Lord Fairfax over that same country—the local foxes had never before heard a pack of Penn-Marydels in full cry!

Carol Easter Tribute Draws Hundreds to Farmington

easter1Honorary whipper-in Tom Bishop, huntsman Matthew Cook, and honorary  whipper-in Kimberlee Morton move off from Springhaven Farm for a memorial meet in honor of the late Carol Easter, MFH.  /  Cathy Summers photo

On a clear, sunny Saturday morning, December 19, 2015, two days after what would have been Master Carol O. Easter’s seventy-seventh birthday, the Farmington Hunt gathered on a grassy knoll at her beloved Springhaven Farm in Charlottesville, Virginia to celebrate her life and legacy.

MFH W. Patrick “Pat” Butterfield addressed a large gathering of fifty-five riders, family members, and guests as a chilly breeze prompted me to adjust the buttons on my coat. Blue Ridge mountains in the distance framed the classic scene of hounds rolling in the grass, horses milling about, and riders exchanging greetings in anticipation of moving off for the morning’s sport.

Multiple generations of friends and family, young and old, were there to be part of this special day. The entire Easter family was on hand to welcome a steady stream of visitors--a serious yet jovial field of riders and onlookers that included life-long close friends Carter McNeely and veteran octogenarian foxhunter and neighbor Bobbie Wells; on foot, Phyllis Jones and daughter Robin Mellen, and Ellie Wood Baxter. Bobbie shrugged against the chilly wind and quipped, “I might have not picked this day to come out, except for the day it is.”

Billy Vance at Eighty, and The Fermanagh Harriers

billy vanceCaptureMaster and Huntsman Billy Vance (80) watches his Fermanagh Harriers at work.  /  Noel Mullins photo

How many huntsmen are hunting hounds at eighty years of age? Or to add a twist to that question, how many huntsmen having achieved that age have already hunted hounds for the previous fifty seasons?

Billy Vance, Master and huntsman of the Fermanagh Harriers, has achieved this remarkable milestone. To see him hunting hounds is inspiring, humbling, and brings home just how lucky we all are to be able to follow great horsemen like him across the countryside.  

Vance is special—a consummate and stylish horseman across what can only be termed as challenging hunting country with drains, banks, walls, and wire to contend with. And he is usually riding horses he bred himself. He is a genius with a pack of hounds, but don’t get in his way when they are running! If Ireland is in need of role models in these difficult economic circumstances, then Billy Vance fits the bill. He never seeks attention, yet is respected not just in his own hunt but by the hunting fraternity at large. And it is sometimes difficult to get a photograph of him.

“I am not into photos!” he says.