Hard Away Whitworth Hunt Opening Meet

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By Dr. Stephen Portch MFH; photos by Sharon Phillips

October 8, 2016 made a good day for the Hard Away Whitworth Hunt Opening Meet and the 14th annual Blessing of the Hounds at Hales, near Greensboro, Alabama. The weather was spectacular: for a Blessing, for a party, for photographs, for feeling all is good in the world. But not quite for hunting. With clear blue skies, super dry air, and high winds, scenting conditions were not ideal, but hounds did a spectacular job.

We drew behind the pond with low expectations, which were soon exceeded when some young hounds started to speak near the family cemetery. We remained cautious because we knew the voices were not our seasoned hounds, but were much encouraged when Spud viewed a large coyote crossing the gas line. The Huntsman brought hounds on towards the double coops, just as Red and Sues saw the coyote cross the highway into the hayfield. The Huntsman put hounds on and they hit the line immediately, running hard to the end of the big hayfield, giving us a fine early gallop. When hounds checked in the tough conditions, the Huntsman chose to take them to the lake for water.

Barbara and Sharon then viewed the coyote cutting back across the hayfield to the “covert in the curl.” After watering, we worked hounds in that direction and just as they hit the line, Anna Lin and Katlin saw this big coyote heading into the covert. As hounds came on, he popped out the north side, and showed his arrogance by doing the Heisman pose as he passed Sharon. He repeated his arrogance by letting Spud spot him slinking along a ditch heading to Salty’s. Hounds kept working him, but a combination of the bone dry conditions and his use of a large heard of cattle to foil his scent led us to decide to draw back in. It was a busy day with some super gallops and pretty hound work.

Sunday, October 9th, saw us at the Kennels for a blistering day of spectacular high drama. With no cows on either the Kennels’ side or Kyser’s side this weekend, we had unfettered freedom. We drew on Kyser’s with no luck, so the Huntsman changed his usual draw by going into the Trees and drawing north. Soon hounds opened, so it was no surprise when David, Lake, and Allison Tally-Ho’d a coyote crossing Slippery Lane going behind Big Muddy. Cal then saw him on the Gazebo dam going towards Hwy 47. Anna Lin and Andrea jumped into the pasture ahead of hounds and helped hold them up when the coyote crossed Hwy 47 in front of Cal, well ahead of hounds.

Confident that we would find more coyotes, the Huntsman chose to draw behind Big Muddy. He sent Jamie well ahead on west, where he spotted a coyote out looking for breakfast behind the Sludge Pits. The Huntsman brought hounds up quickly and quietly. The coyote flew northwest, leaping in the air and twisting to avoid Red and Spud. The chase went on due north in wide open pastures with coyote, hounds, horses, and Red flat out in a spectacular high speed run, with the coyote just beating us to the northwest boundary!

We then headed to draw Big Woods, panting a little. The Huntsman, fortunately, sent Kailee on to watch the east, and before he even reached the covert, she gave a Tally-Ho on one two coyotes headed to Eagle Point. Again, another gallop to the view, with hounds being mega responsive, staying together, and holding their tongues. Jake then viewed both coyotes going into the Honey Hole. Hounds struggled at first and then opened hard going north. At the end of the Trees, one coyote went east and another went west. We chose the west one who took the same track north before, conveniently, turning back south with the help of Red and Jamie. Again, the pack was responsive going to a view and ran him hard across Gracie’s Ditch and on to Boat Ditch, where Red saw him go out of the country.

It was a spectacular day to end a spectacular weekend!

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