April 20 - our annual Summer Horse/Pony Camp issue
Joint Meet: Longreen Foxhounds, Cedar Knob Hounds, Hillsboro Hounds
On the weekend of March 11-12, 2017, three mid-south hunts converged in Cornersville, Tennessee for a weekend of running their respective packs together: Longreen Foxhounds, Cedar Knob Hounds, and Hillsboro Hounds.
Many hunts in Tennessee use the same breed of hound, Penn-Marydel. This breed of foxhound is renowned for their deep voice, their biddable demeanor, and their long ears, which swipe the ground as the hounds sniff the scent.
Generally they are tricolored. Longreen and Cedar Knob have Penn-Marydel hounds, while Hillsboro hunts English and crossbred hounds.
This joint meet was at the invitation of the Cedar Knob Hounds. Their hunt country is beautiful farmland with clipped hedges along the lanes, clear streams, and hilly, rocky terrain with forested knobs high above the pastures. Barns and cabins are tucked in the valleys.
Hillsboro Hounds invited all to their Junior Meet on Saturday (March 11) at The Pavillion, one of their fixtures. The fierce wind made hunting difficult for Huntsman, Johnny Gray’s pack of English hounds and rather chilly for riders. In spite of the difficulty, his pack ran several bobcats, giving the riders multiple views.
Snow began falling as we arrived for supper at Crispen and John Menefee’s cabin: a delicious meal of the thickest tenderloin beef ever to be grilled. We huddled around the hearth, enjoying the feast, cooked and served by our hosts. After dinner, we drove through the snow to our accommodations.
With the daylight savings time change, we woke up to the full moon setting on the snow in the west and the dawn pinking the horizon in the east. Still, there was excitement about the hunting prospects. Snow covered the trees and barn, as the horses ran in, snorting and sliding, to be loaded onto trailers. Luckily the roads were clear and, with a predicted high of 40 degrees, we knew it would melt quickly. Sunday’s meet was at Theresa and MFH Albert Menefee’s, Foxview Farm.
Longreen Huntsman Susan Walker, MFH, brought 7 ½ couple of Longreen’s hounds from Rossville, Tennessee and Huntsman Clare Pinney brought out 11 couple of Cedar Knob’s hounds. Riders represented other hunts including, Mell’s, Hard Away Whitworth, Chula Homa and Hillsboro.
The mix for fox hunters was all in place. There were plenty of quality hounds, lovely countryside, experienced huntsmen and whippers-in, and lots of friendly people doing their best to see that guests were enjoying the day. The sparkly sunlit snow added to excitement as we trotted off to see what quarry might be about.
The combined pack contained young hounds, whose exuberance resulted in a few false starts as they gave voice on old lines of long-gone game from the previous night. Then we detected something more serious afoot when the hounds opened together, their voices pitched in a more urgent tone. A coyote led them around the base of one of the knobs twice and then raced due west. This coyote ran for five miles to Highway 31 and Buford Station Road. The huntsman and whippers-in struggled to keep up, and the fields were thwarted by the hounds traversing country that riders could not cross. Peppy Butler said her horse ran until he couldn’t run another step, and she watched as Rob Caldwell, Cedar Knob Joint Master, disappeared in front of her.
Horses were picked up by truck and trailer and the staff, failing to hear or see the hounds, then resorted to locating them via technology. With the handheld GPS devices linked to tracking collars, and by overhead surveillance from Mike Gomez’s drone, the hounds were located. When the staff got within ear shot, near the railroad tracks, they were elated to hear the pack in full cry! With the quarry heading back east, the huntsman began blowing those long mournful notes of “come on home,” signaling hounds to come to the horn. Steven Heard, Whipper-in, saw the coyote crest the hill after running through a herd of cattle in an attempt to foil his scent. The fit quarry had given the hounds an excellent run, and it was time to return to the Menefee’s terrace for fresh Gulf shrimp and the Sheriff’s barbeque.
Everyone involved expressed great thanks to Cedar Knob, Hillsboro, and the landowners for hosting such a wonderful joint meet. And they are ready for a return match – anytime.
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