Three exceptional huntsmen were honored by the Museum of Hounds and Hunting North America on the eve of the Virginia Foxhound Show. The late James L. Atkins, former huntsman at Virginia's Old Dominion Hounds, Piedmont Fox Hounds, and Warrenton Hunt, Marvin Beeman, DVM, MFH, Arapahoe Hunt (CO), and C. Martin Wood, MFH, Live Oak Hounds (FL) were inducted into the Huntsmen's Room at the Museum, located in the north wing of the main house at Morven Park, near Leesburg.
Tommy Lee Jones relates his memories of Jim Atkins to the packed crowd.
Twenty years ago, the Museum dedicated a room "to honor all huntsmen for their immense contributions to the sport, from its earliest days to the present." A few dozen individuals have received special recognition for "their skill with hounds, their courage across country and their unselfish and complete dedication to the sport," and this year's event attracted a packed crowd to the columned front entrance of Morven Park.
Museum board member John C. Carle II, ex-MFH, oversaw the ceremonies, which included robust testimonies to each of the new inductees from their fellow Masters and staff members. Atkins was remembered as a fun-loving huntsman who loved to see riders in the field having fun. Tommy Lee Jones, huntsman at Casanova (VA), spoke about his friend: "Jim would look back when hounds were running, and make sure everyone was having a great time." He added that Atkins was "truly a country huntsman who deserves to be here." Carle stated that he considered Atkins "the best huntsman in Virginia, and in my mind, he always will be."
Marvin Beeman, MFH, speaks after his induction into the Huntsmen's Room.
Mary Ewing, MFH, Arapahoe Hunt (CO), introduced Beeman, her joint Master and huntsman. She noted the impact of World War II on the availability of men to serve as whippers-in. "Dr. Beeman’s father, George Beeman, himself a member of the Huntsman’s Hall of Fame, turned to his 10 year old son and told him to saddle up. Not only did Dr. Beeman learn the intricacies of fox hunting from one of the great huntsman of our sport, but he began accumulating those 10,000 hours that contemporary literature tells us is necessary to garner proficiency in most any endeavor." Continuing to calculate the hours Beeman spent learning his craft, whipping-in three days a week from childhood through his teens, she concluded that "By age 20, Dr. Beeman [had] accumulated those 10,000 hours. He’s 84 now. Even taking time out to achieve his DVM degree, he probably has over 60,000 hours spent whipping-in or hunting hounds. Is it any wonder he deserves to be inducted into the Huntsman’s Hall of Fame?"
Dr. John Reynolds gave an energetic account of his joint Master, Marty Wood's, education as a huntsman. The crowd applauded when Reynolds paused in his remarks to note that "As we move into the development of the Live Oak Hounds, and Marty's hunting career, if I say 'Marty did,' or 'Marty thought,' or particularly 'Marty decided,' you should quietly, in mental parentheses, think, 'Marty and Daphne.'" Reynolds then recounted Wood's experience whipping-in to Ben Hardaway, another previous inductee, and the influence of Captain Ronnie Wallace on Wood's breeding philosophy. He added a couple of anecdotes from his own experiences hunting behind Wood, including a particularly challenging assignment to block a clever bobcat from entering a drain pipe while the Live Oak pack followed in close pursuit - as frightening as facing the bobcat seemed, the fear of the huntsman's wrath, were it allowed to escape, was greater.
Dr. John Reynolds gave an animated speech in honor of his joint Master and huntsman, Marty Wood (with Daphne Wood, right).
Reynolds concluded by praising Wood's passion. "His passion for hunting and all the things that go into it, and for sharing his love of hunting with others. His passion to build a team of hunt staff at Live Oak second to none anywhere in the world. His passion to breed a pack of hounds which can pursue and account for game in any conditions in any country."
The Huntsman's Room is included as part of regular admission. Now in its fourth decade, the Museum is open Saturdays and Sundays; for more information, visit their website here.