Mells Foxhounds Celebrates 50 years of Fox Hunting

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By Tommy Brannon, MFH; photos by Bill Kenner

On October 18, 2014 Mells Foxhounds celebrated their 50th anniversary and Opening Meet at the Circle G Ranch near Campbellsville, Tennessee. Karen Kressenburg, MFH hunted the hounds, accompanied by Jt. Master Bill Haggard and a full field of riders who came from all over Tennessee, Alabama, and as far away a Louisiana. Karen introduced a high “aww” factor by bringing a litter of Penn-MaryDel puppies to the Blessing of the Hounds so everyone, especially those who were dismounted, had an opportunity do some puppy petting. In honor of this 50th anniversary meet, Annie Mahr, daughter of the late Jack Horner who founded the Mells Foxhounds in 1964, traveled in from Maryland to present Karen with her father’s horn. Also in for the celebration was Lindsey Burns, former Huntsman of the Mells Pack.

Annie Mahr gave a bit of history about her father and founding the Mells. Colonel Jack Horner was a career military officer who had fox hunted when he was stationed in the eastern U.S. Her mother, the late Ann Eidson Horner, was raised in Virginia where she had fox hunted from age 4. The Horners liked the sport so much that they decided to start their own pack when Jack was stationed in Alabama. The Horners were also members of the Moorland Hunt in Alabama. Annie said that her parents loved to bring along young riders. “Many of the hunts in the early years consisted mainly of kids,” she said. “No one in the area was familiar with fox hunting, so he [her dad] would conduct classes, drawing diagrams on the board showing how the game was played.”  Mahr hunted with her parents as a teenager, but left the sport when she grew up and moved away from home.

As the days hunt began, the field hacked about a mile down the road from Circle G Ranch to the kennels, where the hounds were cast nearby. The weather was bright and sunny with temperatures in the 70s. The ground was moist from a previous day’s rain, but not muddy. The country is hilly with plenty of open fields, interspersed with wooded areas, and has good footing. Small streams flow through the valleys, and it is extensively paneled with coops. This looked like perfect country for game! Indeed, one of the fields, which consisted of only three riders lead by Field Master Ron Kramedjian, was treated to about a 15-minute view of a coyote that the pack was not running. She was hunting mice in an open field.  The riders were downwind and behind cover, so they remained very still and quiet, and the coyote had no idea that they were there – allowing the long view. The hills are steep enough that one should be on a fit horse, but the hills can also block radio reception; thus it is a good idea to stay alert to follow the action of the hunt. 

After the day’s hunt ended, the riders, road whips, foot followers, and guests returned to the wonderful facility of Circle G Ranch for sumptuous fair and libations. With new members joining, the return of older members, a good pack of hounds, and bucolic hunt country, Mells Foxhounds are poised for another 50 years of sport.           

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