Since 1897, Baily's Hunting Directory has maintained a comprehensive listing of packs of hounds of all types. The publisher has more recently added helpful articles, anecdotes, and galleries, and produced a printed collection of sketches in 1997, Great Days. Demand for another anthology of stories from the field - some dramatic, some comedic, some bittersweet - encouraged this summer's Great Days Two, a delightful volume of short, easily-read and relatable vignettes. Enjoy these excerpts shared by kind permission of publishers Peter and Dr. Helen Brook.
"Within these pages you will find articles, poems, stories and short recollections or reports recalling the world-wide exploits of hunting men and women mounted or unmounted," the Brooks preface their volume. "This anthology features some great days for Masters, huntstaff, followers, hounds and quarry with each showing outstanding courage and cunning. We recall authors writing both stories and prose about some not so great days and some days that were just lucky for one side or the other. Who you cheer on at each event is up to you."
Silence in Court!
High Sheriff Mr. Selby Lowndes MFH, had directed his pack of fox-hounds to be brought into town, to gratify his friends with a bye-day immediately after the Assizes of 1850.
As arranged the hounds were lodged the yard of the White Hart lnn, which happened to be so close to the assize court, that they were literally within calling distance.
Some disturbance occurring in the court, the Sheriff suppressed it by calling " Silence!" more than once, in very audible and authoritative tone. It seems that in the pack of hounds there was a leading hound named "Silence." The hound on hearing himself summoned, broke through the lofty palings which surrounded the White Hart yard, and rushed into the court with the whole pack at his heels, threading through the crowd in search of Mr. Lowndes. The Assize trumpeter sounded a call outside, but the pack regarded him and his efforts with contempt. However, Mr. Lowndes's own voice was acknowledged instantly; in short time he collected his favourites from the inappropriate and temporary covert, and much to the amusement of the spectators, led them off to kennel.
There is a story of a Yorkshire pack of beagles who held one of their meets this season in a country where hares were known to be a bit scarce. They were lucky enough to start a hare, but after a fast hunt of forty minutes lost their quarry, and repeated recasts failed to recover the scent. Searching in muddy gateways for the five-pointed prick which would indicate that the hare had gone that way, my friend gathered from the remarks of his companions that the hare was an old and well-respected acquaintance of theirs. One claimed such familiarity with its habits as to state confidently that if a cast were made in a certain field some distance away the hare would probably be discovered. Senior members of the hunt, while agreeing that this suggestion was probably right, refused allow it to be acted upon. "For," they said, "she'll be tired now and we might kill her." "But," said my friend, who had been hearing stories of the increasing difficulty of obtaining fresh meat for hounds since war broke out, "why don't you want to kill her?" "Why, because then she wouldn't be here next season to hunt again, would it?" was the reply.
If ever this hare took it into its head to be thoroughly awkward I imagine that she would simply refuse to run away, and the hunt would recoil upon itself in embarrassed confusion. Or if the creature chose to be unsportsmanlike, it might threaten to leave and live elsewhere, or even transfer its allegiance to another pack of beagles. But, being a good Yorkshire hare, it will probably settle down in the district and bring on several generations of leverets to carry on trying to outwit the local foot packs.
1884 Hunting Incident in Ireland
An amusing incident occurred Thursday near Ballinasloe, Galway. While Mr Pollock’s hounds were hunting, a fox started from Eyrecourt Castle and ran towards Prospect House, hotly pursued. Prospect House is now undergoing renovation, and the workmen ran out see the hunt. Taking advantage of their absence Reynard bounded into the parlour, rested himself, and then coolly devoured the artisan’s dinners he found in the room. When the men returned he made his escape!
1905 Unusual Hunting Incident
Though the Heythrop and North Cotswold Hounds meet some ten miles apart, yet those who stayed out for the afternoon draws with each pack on Friday were rewarded by seeing somewhat unusual sight. The Heythrop were bringing their fox into North Cotswold territory Kineton Thorns, whilst the North Cotswold had brought fox from Guiting. Consequently the packs united and hunted together the rest of the afternoon, though scent was bad and no kill was scored. Each pack followed its respective huntsman at the close of the day.
To order your copy of Great Days Two (hardcover, 6.5" x 10"), please visit Baily's website. Those wishing to save on shipping costs may combine with friends and place an order for 20 volumes to receive a discounted price - contact the website for details. To see if your local bookstore can order it, reference ISBN 978-0-9926214-4-5.