Friday, May. 24, 2024

America’s Hunting Authority

Within years of its founding in 1937, the Chronicle’s cover proclaimed it to be “America’s Hunt Authority,” which it no doubt had been since its inception. It was later designated as an official publication of the Masters of Foxhounds Association of America, a distinction it still holds today.

6 Packs Provide Splendid Sport
Sept. 24, 1937
PUBLISHED

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Within years of its founding in 1937, the Chronicle’s cover proclaimed it to be “America’s Hunt Authority,” which it no doubt had been since its inception. It was later designated as an official publication of the Masters of Foxhounds Association of America, a distinction it still holds today.

6 Packs Provide Splendid Sport
Sept. 24, 1937

Again the delightful long and lazy days of summer are over. No doubt there are some who will regret their passing, but not those who enjoy one of the greatest of sports.

The hunting season has started and one can feel the stir in the air. Perhaps if you are lucky enough to be able to rise early and you have a young horse you want to get accustomed to hounds, you not only can see how beautiful the world looks from a hilltop, but watch the puppies work and listen to the huntsman with horn and voice encourage them.

The country being still somewhat blind, there is little jumping at this time, but that is good for a young horse. He can give all his attention to the hounds.

There are six splendid packs [in Virginia] giving sport hereabouts, Piedmont [Dr. A.C. Randolph, master], whose country is without a peer, beautiful fields with old blue grass sod gently rolling towards the distant mountains. Then there is Middleburg [Dan Sands, master], where you are made to feel welcome and to a lovely and hospitable country.

The Orange County [Fletcher Harper] has one of the fastest packs in the country. The Cobbler, Major Patton [the general and war hero to be] took over several years ago and has made it into a workmanlike country with quite sizable fences.

Warrenton [Amory Carhart] is perhaps one of the best known packs although not the oldest. The
Old Dominion Hunt, started by Major Sterling Larrabee a few years ago, is located near Flint Hill with runs over the sweeping Rappahannock country.

Early History Of The Virginia Foxhound
By Alexander Mackay-Smith
March 14, 1947

During the winter of 1789-90, the weather was so severe that the Chesapeake Bay froze over “to the capes.” Descendents of the red foxes said to have been imported from England about 1730 to the Eastern Shore of Maryland by a certain Mr. Smith crossed over the ice into Calvert and Anne Arundel counties and from there made their way to Virginia. The American red fox is native only to the north so that it was at this time that the red foxes first appeared in the Old Dominion.

The advent of the red fox presented Virginia hound breeders with the task of developing a hound that could hunt and kill an animal which ran straighter and much faster than the native gray.

We should note that many foxhunters of the old school would have nothing to do with red foxes, but preferred to hunt grays in the old-fashion way, just as [George] Washington had done in his time. Hounds like Washington’s Countess and Taster were black and tan and were, in fact, known as “unequalled in the point of endurance and not passed in speed or acuteness of scent by their imported English rivals. (American Field, 1887). They were of large size . . . neither as cold (trailers) nor have they the full musical tones of our old fashioned hounds.”

The transformation of the old Virginia black and tan into the modern hound that can drive a red fox at the top of his speed and either kill him or put him to ground was accomplished in two ways, by selection from existing strains and by outcrossing.

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When Washington was building up a new pack after the Revolution he borrowed a couple from Col. Daniel McCarty and another from his son-in-law Richard Chichester, “a dog named Rattler and a Bitch named Juno (Dec. 12, 1785).”

To increase the speed of their hounds, most Virginia breeders relied upon importation from Great Britain. The old Southern hound had virtually dropped out of the picture. [In 1831] Col. F. G. Skinner writes  “I remember the excitement caused among the hunting men of Maryland and Virginia by the arrival of a trio of dogs from so famous a kennel as the Quorn; a large contingent from the Washington Hunt, gentlemen of the foreign legations, Andrew Jackson Donelson, the president’s nephew, several of the highest government functionaries and members of both houses of Congress came over to Baltimore to witness the debut of the imported dogs on the American hunting field.

Foxhunting With The Virginia Hound
By Alexander Mackay-Smith
April 4, 1947

It is fortunate for the history of the Virginia foxhound that Col. Fred Skinner spent the years immediately preceding the Civil War hunting in Rappahannock County. The destruction brought about by that conflict, particularly among livestock, was terrific.

When Col. Fred went north to New York after it was over, he joined the staff of the new weekly, Turf, Field, and Farm, as sporting editor, and began casting up accounts to see what packs had survived.

In 1873 he summarized, “At present fox hunting and fox hunters alike have gone to decay in the south, and but few first-rate packs have survived. The most noted now in existence are those of our valued correspondent T.G.T. of Caston, N.C., Mr. Broadnax of Brunswick Co., Va., the Messrs. Maupin and Robinson of Kentucky, and Col. Charles Green of Rappahannock Co. This county has still three first rate packs of dogs owned respectively by Col. Green, Frank Eastham, and Tom Hughes—they meet almost in defiance of the weather three times a week through the season and rarely fail to kill their fox, though the country is exceedingly rough and mountainous. (Turf, Field and Farm, June 22, 1867).

The pack of Col. Green, the one pack that not only survived the war, but did not even have to rely on outside blood, is of special interest to breeders of present day Virginia foxhounds, because so many of the strains now found in our crack packs go back to hounds from that country.

Harry Worcester Smith, Joseph Thomas, William duPont, the Millbrook, the Orange County, and many other packs got all or a large part of their foundation stock from Rappahannock.

Forward
By William Almy, Jr., President MFHA
Sept. 22, 1967

Subdivisions, superhighways and other building projects are currently grinding up the North American countryside at the rate of over two million acres a year. Costs mount constantly as creeping inflation eats away our currency.

It is certainly a most heartening indication as to the strength and vigor of foxhunting that, in spite of these handicaps, the number of packs recognized by and registered with your association continues to grow steadily. Whereas in 1960 the total was 97, today the number stands at 119, with three more applications awaiting action.

Considering the fact that the requirements for recognition are now far more extensive than before World War II, we can be confident that foxhunting today is an expanding sport.

Piedmont Hounds To France
May 5, 1967

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Mrs. A.C. Randolph, Master of the Piedmont Hounds, Upperville, Va., has sent a couple of American hounds to Mme. Monique de Rothschild, Master of L’Equipage La Futaie des Amis, a pack hunting stag and wild boar in the forest of Compiegne, France.

The Art of Hunt Reporting
By Alexander Mackay-Smith
Sept. 18, 1987

The first Hunt Roster issue was published on Oct. 24, 1941, 46 years ago . . . Our primary goal is a major increase of families who ride to hounds together—children, parents, and grandparents. These are the people who will help to spark the creation of new hunts, to add to the territories of those already in existence, and who will arouse the interest and enthusiasm of their relations, friends and neighbors.
The best way of achieving these ends is by individual example and word of mouth. The next best way is through the columns of the Chronicle. A great gallop across country on the heels of a flying pack of foxhounds is a story with which they naturally identify. We need to put these stories into print.

Museum Of Hounds And Hunting Dedicates Room To Honor All Huntsmen
September 19, 1997

A moving ceremony, which brought together many masters of foxhounds, huntsmen, and others from the
foxhunting community, celebrated the grand opening of the Huntsmen’s Room, at the Museum of Hounds and Foxhunting on May 24.

The ceremony was held on the front steps of the Westmoreland Davis Mansion at Morven Park, Leesburg, Va., where the museum is located.

The 15 huntsmen were chosen from those who served after 1907, when the governing body of foxhunting, the Masters of Foxhounds Association, was formed by six distinguished members of foxhounds, including Westmoreland Davis, who resided at Morven Park and later became governor of Virginia. The selection period extended through World War II.

Sherman Haight Jr., ex-M.F.H., said that the huntsmen had carried the horn for two decades or more, making such a lasting impression upon their peers that they stood preeminent in the history of foxhunting on our continent.

[The first group inducted to the Huntsmen’s Room included Thomas Allison, Meadowbrook Hounds; Hunton Atwell, Piedmont/Loudoun; Charles Carver, Piedmont/Mr. Thomas/Foxcatcher/Green Spring Valley/Essex/Vicmead; Elias Chadwell, Millbrook; William Chadwell, Essex; Homer Gray, M.F.H., Rombout; Henry Higginson, M.F.H., Middlesex/Cattistock; Mason Houghland, M.F.H., Hillsboro. Sterling Leach, Orange County; Dallas Leith, Elkridge-Harford; Robert Maddux, Middleburg; Charles Smith, Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire; Harry Worcester Smith, M.F.H., Grafton/Piedmont/ Loudoun; William Wadsworth, M.F.H., Genesee Valley; William Woodward, Montreal.]



The Legend Of Piedmont Hunt

Piedmont, the nation’s oldest, has shown a noteworthy continuity of masters: The Dulany family from its founding as a private pack in 1840 to roughly 1906; with the Randolph family serving as masters from Dr. A.C. Randolph in 1919, later Mrs. A.C. Randolph in the ‘90s, then beginning in 2002 with Mrs. Randolph’s grandson Shelby Bonnie.

The description of their hunt country has remained almost entirely unchanged: “Country is situated at the northern end of the Piedmont Valley. It is about 20 by 12 miles. It is a grain growing and grazing country made up of large farms. Fences are stone and woods. It is a galloping country.”

The following legend, repeated annually for more than 40 years, was dropped by sometime after 1977, surely for its racist elements: “The Hunt was established about 1840 by Col. Richard H. Dulany of Welbourne as a private pack. There is a legend in the Piedmont country of a fox with two brushes that runs on the full of the moon and has never been killed. This probably is a Negro tale but it accounts for the crossed brushes under the mask on the button.”

Compiled by Jackie Burke

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