In 1914 the Boyd brothers in Southern Pines, North Carolina founded Moore County Hounds as a private pack. In 1942, “Pappy” Moss took over the helm, aided by his legendary wife Virginia, who was Master until her death in 2006. Richard “Dick” Webb is at present the oldest serving Master of any pack in the MFHA, and he, aided by young, energetic Master Cameron Sadler, with her other joint Masters, Effie Ellis and Mike Russell, are intent in celebrating the centennial year of the Moore County Hounds.
The private Penn-Marydel pack hunts fox and coyote primarily in the 5,000 acre Walthour-Moss Foundation property, a rolling sandy tract of pine woods, cut through with broad trails and inviting jumps.
“I knew we wanted to start our Centennial season with a bang, and what’s more thrilling than a good performance trial?”, Master Cameron Sadler rhetorically asked. Cameron is the chairman of the MFHA Hound Show and Performance Trials Committee, so she is well versed in performance trials. Sadler organized the Centennial event utilizing primarily whips, Masters, and huntsmen for judges – Angela Royal, Master Red Mountain Foxhounds; Shellie Sommerson, whip at Moore County; Chris Moll, whip at Sedgefield Hunt; David Rayley, huntsman Moore County Hounds; and me, Jean Derrick, Field Master from Belle Meade Hunt. Entering hunts had teams of 10 hounds, and were hunted on October 11th and 12th, 2013 in Hoffman State Park, and a third and final day on Columbus Day, October 14th, 2013 in the Walthour-Moss Foundation tract, with the membership of Moore County Hounds, just for fun. Entering hunts were Hillsboro Hounds (Tennessee), Sedgefield Hunt (North Carolina), and Full Cry Hounds (Alabama).
Huntsman Lincoln Sadler cast hounds at 7:30 am on Saturday, and the pack struck almost immediately. For an hour and a half, field, staff, and judges were treated with a breathtakingly thrilling full cry. The fields rode hard to keep up with the hounds. All hounds had GPS tracking collars. David Hyman, huntsman of Full Cry, was so excited at the end of the day he could barely speak – “When you look at the tracks [on the GPS] they’re all together, in a tightly knit pack, the whole time”.
Huntsman Sadler attributes the superior pack action on the first day to the fact that, for this trial, visiting hunts arrived relatively early, and these hounds were all kenneled together for at least a day before they were cast. “That makes a big difference– they had all that time to get to know each other, and it really showed,” said Sadler.
The second day the gods of scent were not so kind. The field was treated to close up views of hard work in hunting and trailing by the hounds, with brief bursts of full cry, but scent was difficult to hold. The hounds hunted hard for three hours, and the day was called. However, the end of the hunt that day was not the end of the tale of the whole day. Early in the day, there had been a split, and 8 or 9 hounds were viewed in hot pursuit of a coyote. Hoffman State Park, while very open, is cut through with sandy drains, through which hounds can pass, but not horses – the footing is like to quicksand, it is so boggy in places. That split of the pack had cut through a drain, making pursuit by whips difficult. During the remainder of the day hunting, the whips located and turned back to the main pack several of the hounds in that early split, but at the end of the day, two hounds remained missing– Full Cry Laura and Sedgefield Hagrid, a crossbred bitch and a Penn-Marydel dog.
This was a well-organized performance trial. After quickly determining two hounds were missing, the GPS locator collar numbers were matched the list of the names and numbers of all hounds which hunted that day, and the road whip crew located the missing two hounds on their screens. David Hyman, Full Cry huntsman, was worried – “I could see her on the screen, and she wasn’t moving.” Leaving his road whip in the truck, David walked in to the distant site, and found a dramatic scene. Full Cry Laura was crouched, intently staring eyeball to eyeball with a denned coyote, huddled deep in a hole, walled by tree roots. Sedgefield Hagrid was close by, too.
Hyman returned triumphant to the site of the meet with the two hounds. His face was beaming. He reverently told the story of the marking scene, his face glowing like Moses down from Mount Sinai [And proud he and MFH Fred Berry should be – isn’t this what we’ve bred and trained these animals to do? They had chased their quarry to ground, and they weren’t leaving.]
Back at the kennels, when Laura stepped out of her trailer, she was foot sore, and Betsy Hyman, David’s wife, lovingly picked her up, cradling her like a lamb, and carried her back to her run. I am told Hagrid too received star treatment back home in Sedgefield.
Monday was a nice day out on the Walthour-Moss Foundation, with a larger field than those who had traveled to Hoffman that weekend. While it was a good hunt, it lacked those long gallops and thrilling cry we had at Hoffman. On the other hand, as the third straight day of hunting, it was just fine.
I’ve talked about the hounds and hunting, but I’ve not talked about the fellowship and the food, which is a whole different dimension of a performance trial. During the three days of festivities, Master Cameron Sadler worked tirelessly, preparing delicious food, organizing the bar, and presiding over dinner parties. I did not lose any weight on this trip.
The fellowship was outstanding, too. One thing a performance trial does is give serious fox hunters from far flung hunts an excuse to spend extended periods of time together. I particularly enjoyed chatting with Billy Haggard from Hillsboro, and David Hyman of Full Cry. Their daily post-hunt analysis of the chess game moves of quarry, hounds and huntsman was insightful. They were each good sports of the highest caliber, cheering on the success of other packs, admiring individual hounds from other hunts. MFH Fred Berry of Sedgefield was his usual, amazing self, with stories and anecdotes which endlessly amused.
Congratulations to Moore County Hunt for a fabulous start to its Centennial year!
OVERALL TOTALS: 2013 MOORE COUNTY PERFORMANCE TRIALS
Place Team Base Pts HGA
1st Hillsboro 475.5 780
2nd Full Cry 397.5 715
3rd Sedgefield 238 292.5
Place Hound # Team Base HGA
1st Keystone 76 Hillsboro 126.5 250
2nd Clifton 50 Full Cry 93.5 215
3rd Luxury 53 Full Cry 82.5 205
4th Kingfin 77 Hillsboro 77 185
5th Budweiser 35 Sedgefield 82.5 167.5
6th Dillon 57 Full Cry 66 145
7th Nifty 71 Hillsboro 71.5 137.5
8th Polish 74 Hillsboro 55 92.5
9th Hagrid 34 Sedgefield 33 62.5
10th Laughter 72 Hillsboro 45 60