Stonewall Hounds and Visiting Members of Oak Ridge Fox Hunt Club
What started out as a somewhat slow day of casting in many different areas off Crane Creek Road, later broke wide open with hounds striking in the triangle between the “Bear Bog”, Robinson’s hay field and the new cut trail from the gas line, and the pack in hot pursuit of a huge and feisty bobcat—my first up-close and personal encounter with such an animal in the woods.
Our Master and first flight had just passed second and third flight fields along the bog trail, vowing to share some great hound music with our wonderful guests from Oak Ridge Hunt.
Well, her determination paid off as shortly thereafter we all were entertained with high-pitched hound voices roaring from side to side and in circular patterns in the heavily wooded hill along our trail. We knew that the pack had hit upon something and we all waited for that grey fox we just knew would pop out and provide some sport for the day.
Oak Ridge member and avid mounted photographer, Sara Bateman, positioned herself just in front of the spot where the “grey” eventually jumped out, first running to her left and then turning sharply back uphill to the right, jumping a long log and seemingly disappearing in the direction of hounds. “Tally Ho,” rang out as Sara pulled off her cap and signaled the line.
Sara and I were the last riders in the back of the field lined up along the bog. We looked at each other and tried to figure out what we had just seen. Sara identified it as a grey, but because it was unusually large, I asked if it could have been a coyote. Momentarily, a bouncy and quick-as-a-cat animal emerged from the woods and darted across the trail close to Sara, gingerly popping right off a bank into the stream and under some brush to make a getaway that any fox would admire! However, as evidenced by the lack of a full, beautiful brush and instead, a docked off tail, we knew in a minute it was a bobcat! Hounds were quick to cross over the trail in full pursuit, undaunted by the large leaps required to traverse the bog stream and pick up the scent. They stayed the line for more wonderful music and entertained us as we listened to their fading voices. All of us were delighted at the bobcat sighting, reveling that once again third flight had the good fortune of a great view.
The hunt photos that Sara took that day were absolutely the best, but to capture the bobcat in the underbrush and dense wood was remarkable! I have much admiration for this very experienced foxhunter and talented photographer who actually rides with the largest camera I have ever seen (tucked inside her tweed coat in between shots) and uses it expertly.
A memorable day with Stonewall Hounds!