Monday, December 23, 2013

GOING LIVE!

I'm all a jumble trying to put this experience into words.  I was going to start off all "tales of season's past" and all that but it just doesn't fit.  So let me get to the point:

Sugar and I are in NJ for Christmas (Yes, I am the crazy single person who brings all of the animals home for the holidays - coming to a Lifetime Movie soon.)  She is enjoying the attention of my 15 year old niece (and I hope my niece is enjoying her.)

There is something amazing to be in the place where you grew up, to be able to share your horse with someone you love and then, take her foxhunting for the first time.  Ok, and it was absolutely fabulous for me to be able to hunt Sugar in territory where, as a young 20 sumthin, I played.  And, with an old school hunt club hunting live. 

Our hunt club is a drag hunt.  And, no...  the men are not dressed up in fancy clothes.  Wait, they are but in red hunting frocks not women's dresses.  Wait, what are frocks?  That sounds a lot like women's clothes.


ONBH Pack - Fall 2013
Phew, back to drag hunting.  Most of the foxhunting in Massachusetts is done by hunting drag, not live foxes.  Since our territory is not vast, and we are fighting suburban sprawl, laying drag (scent) allows the huntsman to direct the hounds away from danger (roads, homes, domestic animals).  The scent is laid to mimic a live hunt but, often the hounds run hard and the field is fast... lots of galloping.

Hunting live is unpredictable.  No one knows where a fox will show up and how fast and far they will run.  The Huntsman may have a good idea of where to send the hounds but nothing is guaranteed except, maybe a good time with like minded folk!

ONBH Pic, not this hunt!
We started off in pouring rain - "just like hunting in Ireland".  Our pack was twenty couple (40 hounds) with noses on the ground and tails wagging high over the winter fallow.  The Huntsman's voice called, "Find him!" as she led/followed them from field to covert.   Her Whips were like sentries, riding tall over on a hill to the right and another to the left of the pack moving quietly, ready to guide and direct.

It was a methodical ride as the pack hunted for the wile fox occasionally giving a yip, a bark as the scent grew stronger and quieted as it faded away.  The footing was slippery and the Fieldmaster was cautious and meticulous in following the pack.  It might have been boring if it weren't for the magnificent hound work and gorgeous views.

Then a huge white tailed doe burst from the woods and bounded, white tail flagging her way.  I gasped, just sure that the hounds would run riot after the deer.  Nothing...  these hounds knew that deer were not their prey and continued moving forward with nary a look.

Minutes later, the strike hound screamed that the fox was found and the pack tongued wildly as the chase ensued.  39 hounds in hot pursuit - a sight and sound to behold.  (Suzanne, I thought you said that 40 hounds went out....  Yes, I did but I believe this cute little black and tan was meandering somewhere else.)

Whip pic but not of this hunt.
Unfortunately, the view was cut short as the fox entered the swamp.  Oh, we could hear the pursuit for the hounds gave voice for all to hear.  We waited enjoying the beauty of a warm, rainy winter day and I was filled with the joy of being alive.

Did I miss the big gallops?  Just a little bit...  What I lost in speed and thrills, I gained in the most awesome hound work - sights, sounds and scents.  My only regret was that I have no pictures to share. 

Close your eyes, picture a hill painted dark orange, flecked in gold and brown.  There is a man, dressed in red riding a white horse.  He is standing at attention waiting for the Huntsman.  The sky behind him is gray with billowing charcoal clouds - breathtaking!

I am a lucky girl, INDEED!

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I just can't wrap my head around fox hunting. I would love to try a drag hunt someday, though. It does sound like it was a really nice time.