Wednesday, May. 22, 2024

Hunting For A Name

Perusing through a list of the recognized hunts in the United States, some names certainly stand out--and sometimes they don't seem to make much sense.

But delving into the rationale for naming a hunt can reveal some very interesting stories about its background.

Some names have geographical backgrounds--a road or a town. Others have historical foundations--often with Native American origins. And still others have been a personal decision by the founding masters, drawing the name from experiences associated with the early days of the hunt.

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Perusing through a list of the recognized hunts in the United States, some names certainly stand out–and sometimes they don’t seem to make much sense.

But delving into the rationale for naming a hunt can reveal some very interesting stories about its background.

Some names have geographical backgrounds–a road or a town. Others have historical foundations–often with Native American origins. And still others have been a personal decision by the founding masters, drawing the name from experiences associated with the early days of the hunt.

Let’s have a real look at the state of things and start with the New Mexico hunt Caza Ladron, which translated is the “Hunt of Thieves,” or “Thief’s Hunt.” The magnificent mountain peak Ladron, was a favorite hideout for outlaws. From there, the Navajo and Apache bands raided the Spanish settlers. The Caza Ladron was chosen as the hunt’s name partially to designate the geographical area and partially to hint at the spirit of the hunt and its members.

Not that any of the hunters are outlaws, but they like to continue the same sense of adventure that gave the landscape its folklore. Joint-masters Guy McElvain, Brian Gonzales and Holly Mitchell, always good friends, wanted to continue the spirit and style of hunting that they’d all enjoyed and “steal back” their love for adventure. So the Caza Ladron came to be in 1999.

From the ghost town region of New Mexico comes the name for the Juan Tomas Hounds–Juan Tomas being a village there. It was also the place where the kennels were first located.

“Today,” said Jim Nance, who’s jt.-MFH with Helen Kruger, “we’ve moved hounds to our ranch, where they’re still in the ghost town area.”

Situated on more than 25,000 acres, it would seem the hunt would be far from other living souls, but, no, they’re right next to a Navajo reservation with 3,000 Native American residents–thus carrying on the thread of Indian heritage similar to the Caza Ladron.

Moving north now to the Settlers Acre Beagles in Greenwood, Mo., we find Jim Beisel, the joint-master with Eleanor Peck. Shortly after they were married, Jim with his wife, Carlie, were looking for a small piece of land on which to keep their two horses. They found the ruins of a log cabin that was built when a little valley was first settled. As they were settlers too, they came up with the name, Settlers Acre.

“We started the Beagle pack several years later, when Jim was hunting hounds for the Mission Valley Hunt,” said Carlie. ” One day he remarked to one of his whips that it would certainly be fun to have some Beagles to hunt. The next day, one of our acquaintances told me that a neighbor’s Beagle had just had four puppies. They were the start of the pack.”

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It’s An Honor
Not every man has the honor of having a pack of hounds named after him, but Ben Hardaway is not “every man.”

Steve Portch, MFH of the Hard Away Whitworth Hounds (Ala.), moved to Georgia in 1994 to take up a new job as chancellor of the Georgia University system and to hunt with Hardaway.

Sure enough, Portch went on to serve as whipper-in for Hardaway’s Midland hounds. Then, in 2001, Portch and Midland huntsman Mark Dixon founded the Hard Away Hounds, so named in honor of their mentor.

The Whitworth part of the name honors another wonderful hunting personality, Fannie “Whitty” Elizabeth Payne, who began the Whitworth in the 1970s. Upon a merger of the two hunts in 2003, they became the Hard Away Whitworth Hounds.

Some hunts have the most interesting origins for their nomenclature, and looking at the Moingona Hunt in Iowa, you have to wonder first how it’s pronounced. Monte Antisdel, jt.-MFH with Roy Kipper and Dixon Appel, pronounces it “Moin-gon-a.”

It’s actually the Indian name for Des Moines, and Moingona actually means “River of the Mounds.”

It wouldn’t be a surprise that the Coal Valley Hounds (Kan.) had something to do with coal, and this was immediately confirmed by the fact that the hunt was named for Coal Valley Road. But hunts in mining areas also have hidden shafts and holes for the unwary.

“Much of the area is covered with old coal-mining strip pits,” said Wes Sandness, who’s jt.-MFH with his wife, Kathleen. Tommy Jackson, Steve Satterlee, and Tony Adams are the other masters.

“The strip pits are now filled with water, and the mature trees are a great habitat for wildlife,” Sandness said.

Upheaval
Ever wonder how the Ripshin Bassets (Ga.) got their name?

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Granted, Bassets have short legs, so ripping their shins could be possible, or perhaps it was the subscribers and staff whose shins were ripped?

But Edgar Hughston, joint-master with his wife, Ann, said that Ripshin was just the name of the road they live on.

But Edgar added that his father always told him that “ripshin” was like a riptide, but on land, where the earth underwent upheaval to form a ridge. He’s never been able to find the word in print, except in the novel Cold Mountain. But there is Ripshin Road.

Hard Stuff
And then there’s the Shakerag Hounds in Hull, Ga. “There are several explanations for the name,” said Richard Washburn, jt.-MFH with Sally Rasmussen.

The two most credible stories show that Shakerag was a small community, on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. It was near a ferry crossing and in Indian territory. There was an inn near the ferry, and when travelers came across the river, the innkeeper’s wife would “shake a rag” to get their attention and entice them to the inn.

The other story is that the inn drew a rough crowd that liked to drink and make untaxed whiskey–moonshine. Whenever the law showed up, supposedly the innkeeper’s wife would “shake a rag” to warn the revelers. Either way, the innkeeper’s wife seems to have played a most important role in the scheme.

There’s more “hard stuff” in Aiken, S.C., home of the Whiskey Road Foxhounds. Here, Mel Haas, ex-MFH, put it all so beautifully.

“Our original hunt country was split by the South Carolina Highway 19, Whiskey Road. Whiskey Road is a now four-lane highway, not to be crossed by horse or hound,” he said.

“There are two stories as to how the road got its name, and both [or neither] may be true,” Haas continued. “The first is that it was the road by which Jamaican rum was brought up into the southern colonies from the ports of Charleston and Savannah.

“The other, a more recent one, is that it was the road by which Canadian whiskey was brought into the southern United States during prohibition. In the city of Aiken, Whiskey Road is crossed by Gin and Brandy Streets, and by perhaps the best-known street, Easy Street. The signpost at the corner of Whiskey Road and Easy Street is an Aiken landmark.”

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