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TRed fox / Illustration by Doug Piferhe Pennsylvania Game Commission has published on its website a series of excellent Wildlife Notes on nearly a hundred species of wildlife to be found in that state. With their kind permission, Foxhunting Life earlier republished their comprehensive study of the Eastern coyote, and here we present the Wildlife Note on foxes, once again with permission, which we believe our foxhunting readers will find substantive and revealing.
Red and gray foxes are small, agile carnivores belonging to the same family (Canidae) as the dog, coyote, and wolf. Both red and gray foxes are found throughout Pennsylvania. They are intelligent predators with extremely sharp senses of sight, smell, and hearing (a fox can hear a mouse squeal from about 150 feet).
Old North Bridge Master and huntsman Virginia Zukatynski and hounds leave the Mary Martha Chapel at Longfellow's Wayside Inn followed by piper Thomas Childs, the field, and guests after the Blessing of Hounds. / Jack McCrossan photo
by Patricia Jackson
The Old North Bridge Hounds (MA) held their Blessing of Hounds on the grounds of historic Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts on October 17, 2015. The blessing took place at Henry Ford’s Martha Mary Chapel on a perfect fall day in New England under clear blue skies and beautiful fall foliage. Master and huntsman Mrs. Virginia Zukatynski, hounds, staff, members, and guests joined together and proceeded past the Inn to the chapel for the blessing.
Spectators enjoyed the sights and sounds as Joint-Master Marjorie Franko led horses and riders over the brick pathways and across the old bridge, following the music of the bagpiper. Longfellow’s Wayside Inn has a long history of hosting foxhunts on the property, including the Norfolk Hunt, the old Millwood Hounds, Myopia, and Harry Worcester Smith's Middlesex Hounds. Situated on the Boston Post Road, one of the oldest commissioned roads in the U.S., much of it built along the two-foot wide Pequot Path used first by native Americans, the Wayside Inn has the distinction of being the country’s oldest operating inn, offering hospitality to travelers along the old road since 1716.
The Wayside Inn, made internationally famous by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s book of poems, Tales of a Wayside Inn, was run by the Howe family. Longfellow visited the Inn in 1862 and his book of poems was published the following year. In it he republished his poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” which contains his immortal phrase, “Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.” Henry Ford bought the Inn in 1923, restored it, and formed the charitable trust that operates the Inn today.
John Woodcock Graves (1795--1886)We’re all familiar with “John Peel,” surely the most well-known foxhunting song of all time. We’re perhaps less familiar with the songwriter, John Woodcock Graves, who turns out to be a most fascinating and unpredictable character—rogue some might say—in his own way. We owe this insight into Graves' life to our Cumbrian friend, Ron Black, who sent us excerpts from A Ramblers Notebook at the English Lakes (H. D Rawnsley, 1902).
In an earlier article, Foxhunting Life describes that night in 1829 when John Woodcock Graves sat in his parlor in Caldbeck, in England’s Lake District, with John Peel. Peel was a farmer, horse dealer, and foxhunter whose hounds were highly celebrated by the local sheep farmers. From the adjoining room, Graves overheard his son's granny singing an ancient Irish melody to the child. Graves took that old melody and wrote a new set of lyrics to honor his friend, John Peel.
"I sang it to poor Peel," Graves wrote, "who smiled through a stream of tears which fell down his manly cheeks, and I well remember saying to him in a joking style, ‘By Jove, Peel, you’ll be sung when we’re both run to earth!'’
Just a few years after that cozy night, however, Graves became embroiled in a violent altercation with an employee, the aftermath of which induced him to leave England forever. His adventures were just beginning.
All civilized societies adopt rules of etiquette and conventions that allow individuals to interact without conflict. By the same token, unique activities, and especially those involving a measure of risk (motor driving, sailing, foxhunting), develop of necessity their own unique rules and conventions to help assure a safe and pleasant outcome at the end of the day for all participants. Thus, the courtesies and conventions of the hunting field, developed over the centuries, aim to produce an environment in which an exuberant sport may flourish pleasurably and safely. As each new season begins, it is never inappropriate to remind ourselves of the courtesies we owe to our landowners, Masters, staff, hounds, and fellow field members.