A reader writes, “We were discussing the proper distance a field of foxhunters should keep between itself and the huntsman. Is there a rule of thumb that can be applied generally? We thought one simple rule might be to keep the same pace and a reasonably constant distance.... so the huntsman would always know roughly where his field is. But would love to hear what the experts say.”
Here is a question for which there can be no simple rule appropriate for all hunting situations. There are too many factors that modify the “appropriate” distance, even during the course of a single hunt.
We asked huntsman Hugh Robards, just retired after a fifty-five-year professional career in England, Ireland, and America, for his opinion. For twenty-seven seasons, Hugh hunted hounds for Lord Daresbury, MFH, at the County Limerick, showing world-class sport to members and foxhunting visitors from all over the world. Even before becoming a huntsman, Hugh whipped-in to some of the most illustrious British huntsmen of the twentieth century, including Captain Ronnie Wallace at the Heythrop and Brian Gupwell, later to become huntsman for the Duke of Beaufort. Hugh writes: