Hunting in sagebrush is a little like mogul skiing. You stay loose in the saddle, keep your eye on the horizon, and let your lower body just move with your horse. He can pick a better path than you through the dense brush and if you second-guess his choice, parting company is a distinct possibility.
I have just returned from five days of hunting with Red Rock Hounds in Reno, Nevada (emphasis on the A!). It is big hunting: endless sky, huge tracts of land, big horses, big belt buckles and big cowboy hats. Lynn Lloyd's Red Rock Hounds at Ross Creek is about one hour north of Reno. She ran out of gas 30 years ago in this valley and as she puts it, "God must have had a reason." She stayed put and has built a wonderful hunt club and facility that the whole valley seems to enjoy.
Lynn has the most enrolling personality I have ever met and the proof is in her membership. Not only do some of the local cowboys enjoy hunting with her, western style, but there are also motocross kids, who fly up the steepest ridges to watch for coyote for her. There are mountain bikers who follow, throwing their bikes over the coops as they ride behind and lots of landowners in their big trucks on the dirt roads below, some who generously bring water for the hounds in this dusty, dry country. She has welcomed all into her club. I rode with a woman who was Lynn's first student, and she told me how five of them used to take out hounds in the beginning, watching them disappear high into the mountains, learning as they went how to hunt this tough country.
It was an awesome five days and the best part was riding close to Lynn as she explained her hunting style. She has learned to stay high and listento the hounds as they follow coyote. I watched them vanish into the sagebrush after quarry and scanning the distances, one can see their movement way ahead and hear their cry. Then she picks her path through the brush and the field gallops for miles. Coyotes run a long way and after two long chases one day, we had the trailers brought around to load tired hounds and tired horses. On some days, from the tops of rocky ridges, you could see for miles around and watch wild horses in the distance and golden eagles hunting on the wind. Excited hounds would burst after long-eared hares before returning quickly to Lynn's side. She does not scold the hounds but explains to this visitor that she believes it keeps them enthused and interested in hunting, and as they settle on the right quarry the puppies learn from the steadier hounds.
Fellow foxhunters had come from California, Montana, Washington State, Idaho, as well as a couple of us easterners.This was the Pacific District Triennial meet and on the first day we hunted with Santa Ynez Valley Hounds and Claire Buchy-Anderson, huntsman. That was followed by Terry Paine of Santa Fe West Hills, who brought his English pack, and showed us excellent sport on days two and three. Lynn hunted her hounds the next day with some of the hounds she had given to her Montana friends, Kail and Renee of Big Sky Hounds. The last day she hunted her American (Walker) hounds at nearby Campbell Springs. As we rode home at the end of the hunt, we passed by the shady tree and green grassof Campbell Springs and Lynn told the story of the last Indian massacre taking place on that exact spot in 1907! A group of disgruntled youths of the Paiute tribe massacred a whole settlement, and showing unusual restraint, the nearby American troops let the chiefs of the tribe deal with the miscreants in Indian fashion. Just what that was is lost to history.
On Friday evening Red Rock Hounds held their annual Hunt Ball at one of the big casinos in Reno. A "Jeans and Jewels" theme ensured the finest in western wear! Gentlemen wore their scarlets over jeans and substituted bolos for a bow tie. It looked great and the fringed shirts and bejeweled women in their fancy boots made for great people watching. The crowd impressively raised thousands of dollars that evening to help the Red Rock Hound Foundation and, clearly, showed how much Lynn and the hunt is beloved in their community. It was a treat to see an American foxhunting legend in her element and I hope to return many times to enjoy her warm hospitality and watch her hunt these excellent Red Rock hounds.