We've had two exciting hunts recently that are worth writing about. To bad we can't get it straight from the hounds' mouths. They know all the details on what happened.
The Pamplin Coyote Run
On Saturday February 4, 2012, I took seventeen hounds to hunt at Sunny Day Farm in Pamplin under ideal conditions: Cloudy and cool, damp and not much wind. Sixteen riders attended which is a large field for us and Diane was our lone truck whip. This was a remarkable hunt in that the hounds found a coyote in the pines along Red Gate Rd. and ran him for 3 hours without a check. That coyote stayed within our rolling hunt country, another unusual pattern, and gave us many exciting views.
Kate tally-hoed him first at the bottom cow pasture on the Wallis Farm. She was getting ready to head up the trail when the mottled gray coyote came down straight at her maybe within 10 feet. No kidding! Hounds were on his heels with Jackie in the lead. That began a fabulous time for Kate as she was "in the right place at the right time" and able to stay close to the screaming hounds.
Hounds ran south almost to Baldwin Rd and then turned and headed north toward Richard Robinson's silos. They swung around Stanley's gate, through Louella's cowfield, crossed Crane Creek Rd. and looped back into and around the pines constantly singing to their quarry and delighting us all. First flight was cantering up the lower Wallis cow field behind me when out ran this tall, leggy coyote. The field watched him lope all the way across the pasture. What a great and long view! I doubled the horn and out flew the hounds with Jackie in front followed closely by all the rest.
Also, Mary K and Hope viewed him two times as he crossed the gasline. Without any more details of a long and hard to piece together chase with many changes of direction and circles, we stopped most of the hounds as they tried to cross on the Four Post road at 1:30. Sarah was the last to come in at 2pm. They had been going non stop since 10:30. We radioed for the hound truck to come get the hounds who were very tired. So were all of us and our horses.
We had a huge amount of delicious food in Cheryl's cozy home while trading accounts of the hunt. This was a day to remember!
Triple Game Day at Bonnydale
Saturday, Feb.11, we had another memorable hunt at the meet called Bonnydale. Seventeen hounds were anxious to start and thirteen riders anticipated a good day. The time was moved an hour earlier to 9am as very high winds were forecast-ed after noon and temperatures were to remain around the mid 30's. I like to hunt at least 3 hours this time of year. Hounds are fit and horses, too.
The first draw was along the edge of the Bonnydale cow pasture. Hounds worked well and made their way up into the McIver woods which is a large area of pines, cutover and scrubby tree growth. There they found and voices were heard and honored. Back and forth, circling, checks, more strong music, more checks and then Cheryl tally-hoes a gray fox.
Shortly after that, Howard in his truck parked between the hay bales with Sarah, a guest from Sweet Briar College, tally-hoes a red fox running the opposite way. For what seemed like a long time, I could not tell which quarry hounds were running. Allison and one other hound were seen trailing the red fox line but they lost and came on to the others whose music was increasing in volume as they turned back toward Bonnydale. Julia viewed the gray come out and cross the bottom of Bonnydale. The field and I galloped back in time to see hounds come out, all together, with Jackie and Sarah leading the way. Their music was oh, so joyful to hear. I think that the tighter in a group that hounds run the stronger they sound.
Judy and the hilltoppers had a brief view but about 10-15 minutes later they had an even better view when the gray who had made a loop below Ruckers Rd and the gasline, came back across the pasture in the same place and ran back into the woods. Hounds were a few seconds behind. Judy said that gray was stretched out running. Most times when we see a fox that is being pursued, he is trotting casually along and even stopping at times, almost like he is listening to the hounds on his scent.
Kate and her daughter, Melissa, came on the radio with a report of a coyote coming out of the same woods where hounds were now speaking and where the red and gray fox were first seen exiting. I don't know if anyone has ever experienced all three quarry coming from the same covert. I never have. (Although one other time in the same area I did view a red and a gray fox come out of that same covert just minutes apart!)
It was here that hounds were starting to scattered. I guess the abundant game caused many lines of scent to be followed. So we called them up, which was not easy, and headed over to the gasline and the Evan's farms. Solomon must have jumped something way ahead of us as he and Jackie and Charlie were up in front in the next draw, already speaking and running. Solomon has a very distinctive voice. Once you know it you can pick it out easily.
I quickly put the rest of the hounds in the thick pines between Booth Rd. and Plum Branch Rd. hoping they would join Solomon and company. Again the hound music was intermittent with hounds not together. After a while the winds were picking up so we decided to call them in and come back to the trailers. It was a little before noon. Just as the tailgate was set up, the skies clouded up and snow began to blow hard, as in horizontal.
We threw down some good hot soup brought by Janet Vickers as well as other satisfying treats. She took a last minute picture of us bundled up around the hound truck. See below. The hunting has been exciting, hounds are eager to find, the weather has been excellent for this time of year. Many, many things to be thankful for but mostly for all your support and friendship!
Your Dedicated Huntsman, Lili