Home for the Holidays

photo of hound jumping on personAs my winter vacation comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on how I spent most of my time compared to my peers at school. As friends excitedly talked about the various beaches, cruises, or ski trips they were headed for the moment school let out, I had my hopes on spending as much time as I could at the kennels, and I have to say that was the highlight of my break.

I know, it’s weird because I’m a nineteen-year-old college student. I should be sleeping until at least noon. Ten am should be an early morning. I should be dragging my feet with droopy eyes at any hour before nine. And if I’m up before eight, I should be chugging energy drinks to function. But I’ve found over my break that there’s something about a good hound walk in the morning that just puts me in a good mood. Is that so wrong?

Little Moments

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After another great Saturday hunt with Shakerag Hounds, I stood in the barn with sponge and rag in hand, giving the mud-coated tack a deep clean. After a bit of a slow start that morning, I was thinking the tack might not look much dirtier than when we started. But when hounds struck on that coyote, we flew across the Georgia countryside for a solid 30-40 minutes, and the Georgia red clay showed no mercy.

A Foxhunter's Finals Week

[caption id="attachment_2569" align="alignleft" width="199" caption="Autumn Clarke and Tobey"][/caption] It’s the last week of the semester here at Berry College, and it is rough. Everyone walks around in pajamas and sweats, and I can’t count how many times I’ve seen people walk out of the dining hall with to-go boxes packed to the brim with food, just so they won’t have to leave their studies for food for the day. I’ve heard rumors that the library is packed to the gills with students from the moment it opens at 7 am until it closes at 2 am, so I’ve been chipping away at my own studying in my dorm. Now that my roommate has finished her finals, along with several of my friends, and gone home for a one month long hiatus, I’ve only got one thing on my mind: hunting. I, along with a few other unfortunate souls, am stuck here until Friday to take the Principles of Cell Biology final exam. On one hand, I’m ready to attack it; at this point, it is the only thing standing between me and a month long break, thus completely opening up my schedule to hunt. On the other hand, my mind doesn’t want to focus; I have various hunting pictures taped on my dorm room wall, and the more I look at them, the more anxious I am to get home. Three pictures really hit home the most for me. One picture is a photo I took of Shakerag’s Georgia and Gemma as puppies when they were getting walked out at our family friends’ farm. I have been able to watch these two grow up over the years, and when I stumbled across this picture of them, it brought back so many memories. Walking them on leashes as they dragged us around the farm, noses stuck to the ground, howling the moment anyone stepped foot into the barn, watching them knock each other to the ground as they played, but then falling down themselves as their uncoordinated paws and long, floppy ears got in the way, and let’s not forget when they put the bobcat up in the old barn! Today, being able to pick them out of the pack is really exciting for me. Their black and tan coats sometimes make it difficult when they’re running in the pack, but I can surely find them when I’m visiting the kennels. Although this photo of them snuggled up together in a deep sleep as puppies may not be indicative of how active they were, it sure is a trip back in time.

The One That Got Away

Autumn Clarke aboard Tobey. Photo by Kit Paryzek

We jumped the staff coop on that crisp October day, and turned left into Ramsey’s woods; hounds had yet to really strike on a line. Curse the clear skies, curse the wind. It’s only been twenty minutes or so, and it’s still cool out, so maybe we’ll get lucky.

We followed hounds and huntsman into the woods, and we heard one or two voices toying with a line; the huntsman sits still, and gently urges hounds onto the others, he knows this could be good. A few more voices join in the melody; all of a sudden the entire pack explodes into a thunderous chorus! We did a quick reverse field, out of the woods, and off we went! We carried a strong canter over the crest of a hill, and we see the huntsman streaming ahead of us, and a few tail hounds to our right; a quick turn to the right when we get to the road, and we’re flying down Sam Swindle Road, as hounds are crashing through the woods to our right.

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