Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Moingona Hunt

moingona

Murray, IA Clarke & Madison Counties

Website: www.themoingonahunt.org


downing.dennis.karen mDennis Downing is the new huntsman at the Bedford Hunt (VA). / Karen L. Myers photo

Huntsman Robert Taylor hasn’t had a good rest in five years. He’s been hunting two separate packs of foxhounds in Maryland—the Goshen Hounds as Master and amateur huntsman and the New Market-Middletown Valley Hounds as professional huntsman. Huntsman Ken George has been driving hounds and horses six hours each way twice a week from Kansas to Iowa to hunt hounds in both states. Huntsmen love what they do, but each season ends with changes in the wind.

As this hunting season draws to a close, we see huntsmen on the move again. Starting in the north and progressing southward then west, here’s what we know so far; please let us know who we’ve left out.

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neil.amatt.kleckNeil Amatt, professional whipper-in, Piedmont Fox Hounds (VA): “Anticipation, punctuality, how you present yourself—all these things are drilled into you in the English system. You start in the kennels, and you have to really want it before you’re even allowed on a horse.” / Nancy Kleck photo

With the start of a new season just around the corner, we bring back this article, first published in 2013, not only for the benefit of all new and aspiring whippers-in, but also for those field members who wish to appreciate all that happens in the hunting field.

Last season, after forty-five years of hunting, I witnessed a simple act of sophisticated whipping-in that left me shaking my head in admiration. For a huntsman or an experienced whipper-in, it was perhaps no big deal.

My hunt fielded an all-new professional staff last season—huntsman and whipper-in—both of whom were learning the country on the fly. Hounds had checked in a thick covert, and we in the field could see them, heads down, trying to recover the line. The whipper-in came galloping by headed for the end of the covert.

“Over here,” called the Field Master, pointing to a concealed trail. “You can get in over here.”

The whipper-in came back, talked urgently to the Field Master, then turned his horse and continued in the direction he was originally going.

After the meet I asked him what that exchange was all about.

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brazos valley mysticBrazos Valley Mystic 2010 / Liz Callar photoBrazos Valley Mystic 2010 was judged Grand Champion of the Southwest Hound Show for the third consecutive year, matching his sire’s outstanding performance there. The show was held on April 20, 2013 at Greenwood Farms in Weatherford, Texas.

Mystic’s success is no stroke of luck; he’s the product of a royal breeding engineered by Brazos Valley MFH Sandy Dixon. She put her own sire—Brazos Valley Catfish 2006—to a Potomac-bred bitch that she entered in 2006—Brazos Valley Meadow.

Catfish won three consecutive Grand Championships at the Southwest Hound Show in 2007, 2008, and 2009, and Meadow brought her own credentials from Maryland. She was bred by Potomac huntsman Larry Pitts and is by Potomac Jefferson, Grand Champion of both the Virginia Foxhound Show and the Bryn Mawr Hound Show in 2007. Jefferson was knockout handsome.

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ken george.bill sipp.john webberHuntsman Ken George (foreground) and whipper-in Bill Sipp  / John Webber photoThe Moingona Hunt (IA) had a great start to the season. I joined Steve Satterly, ex-MFH, and Matt Lange—local cowboy turned foxhunter and whipper-in—for the season’s very first cub hunt on a hot, dry day in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Huntsman Ken George took out twenty-two-and-a-half couple of hounds.

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kuenzi.heatherThe authorPicture this: four hunts—Bridlespur Hunt (MO), Full Cry Hounds (AL), Grand Canyon Hounds (AZ),and Mill Creek Hunt (IL)—bringing their best three couple of hounds to the field; thirty-five enthusiastic mounted riders; and sweeping vistas of open hunting country loaded with coyotes. This made for an action-packed five days of foxhunting activities consisting of a three-day Foxhound Performance Trial, foot hunting with the bassets, and a joint meet of foxhounds. It all took place at the  Flint Hills Invitational Performance Trial, held on March 7-9, 2012, generously hosted by the Moingona Hunt staff and members. The Flint Hills area of Kansas is an immense rolling prairie of tallgrass and recognized as one of America’s unique treasures.

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