Chula Homa Opening Meet

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On November 13, 2021 at Lake McGowan, Brandon Mississippi, bagpiper Tim Gordon called horses and riders to the 39th Chula Homa Hunt’s Blessing of the Hounds and Opening Meet. This playing of the Celtic instrument leading the parade of riders as they hack out to hunt has become a tradition with Chula Homa. Also a tradition is to host a breakfast before the hunt so that guests and hunters can meet and greet each other. Accompanying the pre-hunt breakfast is an art auction featuring works from local and international artists as a fundraiser to feed the foxhounds.

At this year’s opening meet there were 50 riders and 200 spectators, aka foot followers. It has become a very popular social, equestrian event in Central Mississippi. It gives spectators riding the tally ho wagons a little taste of what the sport of fox hunting is about, but also gives riders who are not regular foxhunters that opportunity as well. Many get hooked on the sport after riding to hounds at Opening Meet.

The riders were all turned out at their best, with immaculately groomed and braided horses, polished boots, staff in their Pinques (scarlet coats), and several ladies riding side saddle. Father Kevin Slattery Officiated the Blessing of the Hounds.    

The morning was chilly with bright blue sky, and by the time the hunt started, it was quite pleasant. Most foxhunters will tell you that the best actual hunting takes place when the weather is damp and cold because the scent rises when the air gets warmer and it can lift above the hound’s heads. However, that is not always the case.

Huntsman Petra Kay cast hounds and proceeded around the lake. The area is thickly wooded but passable. Hounds tracked all around the lake looking for scent, backtracking again and again going south east as far as Grants Ferry Road, back south and west, then back north around the lake for about a 2 ½ hour hunt. Although at one point deer jumped out directly in front of the pack, the hounds remained true to the line.  

At the end of the hunt with all hounds in and horses tended to, the hunters gathered at tables for Champaign and delicious food. 

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