Check One Off the Bucket List: Hunting With Keswick Hunt

Keswisk Jan 2013Photo by Phil AudibertAt first it seemed that circumstances conspired against me. Hurricane Sandy roared through the Northeast, raising floods and dumping snow, and causing terrible problems for so many people. I watched the disaster unfold on the news and felt guilty as I nursed my private concern: would the Keswick Hunt go out on Friday the second of November, and would I be able to get my horse from Tennessee to Virginia to hunt with them? My friend P.J. Drayton and I had planned our trip for months, even “practicing” hauling our horses with our cobbled-together combination of my truck and her trailer, and making detailed packing lists and contingency plans for various calamities. But we had not counted on the disaster that was Sandy. Our Deep South foxhunting buddies in Tennessee and Alabama warned us by phone, text, and email that we were committing certain suicide by attempting the trip. There was snow on the ground up there, for heaven’s sake!

Dear Diary...

RFHH Sorry to leave you behind 1Once a year, the entire membership of Rocky Fork Headley Hunt convenes to tell tall tales about the ignominious unplanned dismounts of the preceding season. Last year among all the other sad stories, Bill Bering had to confess to his own disgrace. The saga which follows was Bill’s rendition of the time when Missy got the better of him, as told at the annual Thrills and Spills convocation.

January 25th

Dear Diary,
Today Missy bucked me off during a hunt. My first reaction was to deny that it happened. After all, who would they believe: me--or Bob, Liz, and Linda, the alleged witnesses? I quickly abandoned the idea though thinking that perhaps I might crack under cross examination.

Same Sport, Just More Horses

derek frenchDerek French with Sallie & SimonThe radio crackles.

"Hounds have split. Two or three couple are headed west. Get over to the fourth line and stop `em. We`ll never get `em back out of that huge swamp.” I fumble for the radio that my two Jack Russells have knocked to the ground.

"I`m on my way. Ten four," I reply.

I jump onto my trusty steed and roar off at a full gallop. All 180 horses bursting with power send the gravel flying. Too late, I see first the coyote and then two couple headed west over the fourth into the swamp. I jump off my mount and run yelling, "Get on back" and, "Leave it" while attempting to crack my whip. Try as I might I have never been able to produce a really authoritative crack. Fortunately there`s no one to hear my feeble attempt over here on the fourth Line.

One Hundred Marvelous Years of Cheshire

cheshire 1 smallFounded in 1912 in Pennsylvania, Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds entered their Centennial year this season. Mr. Stewart, a Philadelphia banker, set out to find the perfect hunting country, and settled on the rolling hills, rich pasture land and extensive woods around Unionville. As one of what in modern terms could be classed as a committed practical conservationist and environmentalist, he purchased thousands of acres of land, and before he sold on the farms he amended the deeds to restrict development and nurture conservancy, clean water and habitat that today consists of 30 square miles and 26,000 acres free from ribbon residential and commercial development that has allowed the sport of foxhunting and steeplechase racing to thrive.

The Huntsman's Pocket

Glenmore HuntGlenmore Hunt photo‘Tis not often one is blessed to hear the music of the hounds in full cry, in hot pursuit of the elusive quarry. However, this Tuesday past all who were fortunate to be present, were able to experience such a wonder.

It was my fortune to be tapped by the huntsman to ride in his pocket. To be given the pleasure of being up front, to watch the workings of the bond he has with the hounds. Seeing him dismount, trudge through the briars and underbrush, giving them the encouragement to carry on and to push them in pursuit of the quarry through such dense growth.

Western Packs Rendezvous in the Rockies

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Photo by Zina Balash

Arapahoe Hunt’s November 2012 Rendezvous Week featured five days of fast-paced hunting on the rolling hills of the high-desert plateau just outside of Denver, Colorado.  The Arapahoe’s country is wide-open except for two river bottoms which hold cottonwoods, and a plethora of ravines ranging from the mild to the mildly terrifying, if taken at speed.  Similarly, the quarry—coyote—enjoys putting in fast paced runs, which adds to the thrill of the chase, especially with the possibility of snow in the mid-November Mile High City.

Hunters and hounds from Juan Tomas (NM) and the Grand Canyon Hunt (AZ) gathered outside of Denver, Colorado to partake in the long and blistering runs for which this country is so famous. 

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