Wednesday, May. 22, 2024

An Excellent Season

Skycastle French Hounds
Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.
Organized 1948.
Recognized 1952.


Skycastle's 57th season opened with the blessing of the hounds on Oct. 10 at Marsh Creek by Rev. Elsa Mintz. After a few short runs to ground around the old track oval, the pack hit pay dirt in the corner woods near Chalfont Road.

For the next hour, they were in cry, with runs from one end of the woods to the other, and a really nice hunt from the upper end and across the road to the lake and back.
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Skycastle French Hounds
Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.
Organized 1948.
Recognized 1952.

Skycastle’s 57th season opened with the blessing of the hounds on Oct. 10 at Marsh Creek by Rev. Elsa Mintz. After a few short runs to ground around the old track oval, the pack hit pay dirt in the corner woods near Chalfont Road.

For the next hour, they were in cry, with runs from one end of the woods to the other, and a really nice hunt from the upper end and across the road to the lake and back.

They recovered the line through the stream and heavy briars, drove the rabbit out and back across the road again, finally marking to ground in the upper east corner of the woods.

The next week at Bob Berry’s was tough on a dry, hot day. Hounds did a great job moving rabbits in and out of the big hillside briar square and ignored the deer as they worked across. Another rabbit was hunted in the swamp and managed to kill its scent in the water after a run to end the day.

The Fall NBC Basset Trials in Aldie, Va., were a mess. The grounds were literally wrecked and left dangerous to foot and horse by the logger who had taken valuable timber and left blocked trails, stump-filled fields and huge log piles in the “clearings.” Game was scarce but present outside the enclosure.

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The seven-couples did well, with only one pack blank. The three-couples, in the gameless, completely overgrown enclosure, were a joke. Our pack worked well and thoroughly to no avail. Packs that hunted outside did the scoring.

In the five-couples, Calf Pasture (Md.) and Ripshin (Ga.) had super hunts, and Skycastle French placed fourth with a solid hunt, ignoring the deer.

Oct. 31 marked our first hunt in new country at the Brandywine Valley Association. We had a big field out, including Cindy Bedwell, ex-MFH Brandywine Hunt (Pa.), and Christian Huber, MFH Radnor Hunt (Pa.). From a foxhunter’s point of view, it was great. Hounds flushed out at least two foxes from every piece of large cover that we drew, for a total of six.

Hounds worked hard the whole time, but rabbits were nowhere to be found. They pushed one fox around until it broke out of the covert. We were joined for the tailgate by two carriages full of landowners. All were impressed with the steadiness of our pack to fox, and it was a good start indeed.

Nov. 9 at the Christiansens’ began with a burst on deer, then a long draw all around the top of the fields and woods. Finally, hounds got rabbits going, and were rewarded after working out a couple of checks.

Yeager Farm on Nov. 14, in very dry and windy conditions, was almost blank, until hounds found a “4 o’clock rabbit” at the top of the property toward Coldstream Rd., which after a looping run through briars was marked to ground.

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December started with a bang at Milky Way Farm with rabbits galore. The first was put to ground in the hedgerow toward Lionville Rd., then after crossing to the bottom woods covert between the fields, hounds ran several rabbits very well and were in cry for almost 11³2 hours. All worked like demons, and the sound of the pack was great.

On the 12th, at the McKennas’, game was sparse, with three rabbits really worked for.

Church Farm School on the 19th was a rabbit marathon. Hounds ran at least four rabbits all over the hedgerows and fields for nearly an hour. Then I took them past the pond to the next covert to the left of the tracks, where they ran squads of rabbits, settling on singles for two nice hunts before going to ground in the bottom briars. All worked well, and again cry was tremendous.

The last hunt of the year, at Peeples’, was cold, rainy and blank except for one fox and an old line worked in the Flint Rd. hedgerow. Hounds covered everything, but the bunnies stayed in.

This first half of the season showed a much tighter working pack. Midweek and Saturday morning hunting have made the difference, with thanks to the Wiedorns, Sally Roberts, Sandy Slaymaker, Clark Kirkpatrick, Coopie Heiserman and Marsha Knight. Mireine, one of our new French hounds, has proved a wonderful addition, and Daphne has now recovered and is hunting well.

As we become familiar with our new territory, we must all be particularly careful to respect the properties in every way, so that we may convince the farmers and landowners of all the ground we cover on a day’s hunting that we respect and appreciate the great privilege of hunting their land. We hope they’ll come out and get to know us and our hounds, and enjoy our sport.

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