The Metamora Hunt met at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Mark Milewicz on Rock Valley Road on Saturday morning, December 19th. We were treated to a lovely stirrup cup on this cool morning. The temperature was 27 degrees with a light snow cover on the ground.
Huntsman Patricia Pearce had brought 10 ½ couple and was assisted by Honorary Whippers-in Gay Kent and Margie Gilbert. After thanking our hosts and presenting a few announcements, Joint Master Joe Mayday turned our day over to jt.-MFH Joe Kent who called for “Hounds Please.”
A short hack to the east brought our small field to the entrance of the first draw at Bruno Moser’s hayfield. Staff cantered away to their appointed points, and we all were very excited to be out hunting after being shut down by weather for the past two weeks. Pat Pearce cast hounds to the hay field, and they spread out and feathered for scent.
With a small field, we all felt that we were in the Master’s back pocket today as he stationed us quietly behind Huntsman and hounds. Our hounds remained biddable through the first quiet draws. We proceeded into the woods, north of Ms. Jesse Reynold’s polo field.
Those woods are thick and were beautifully snow covered. A lone hound would speak from time to time with a faint thread of scent, but nothing solid. We continued at the walk, behind but always in sight of our Huntsman and hounds. They were very beautiful to watch in the snowy covert. Pat was mounted on a gray, and she appeared to be floating along at times, 50 yards away through the thick woods, with only her scarlet coat visible.
The strike came with the booming voice of one of our older hounds. Within seconds their voices swelled to full cry, and we were trotting quickly on a parallel path as Pat blew “Gone Away.”
Our Masters headed us east as quickly as footing would allow. Our horses were all stoutly shod with snowball pads and studs all around, but the paths in the woods were icy at times, and there were some low muddy creeks to cross. We broke out of the woods onto harvested crop fields and turned northeast, cantering to follow the ringing voices of our hounds.
We continued at a good pace with hounds just within hearing. Heading north now and onto Parker Lane, we were able to make some speed on a long uphill gallop. Our horses remained quiet fresh after their two weeks away from hunting. Some care was required to stay back from the icy snowballs that came from the horse in front of you! We broke out of the woods just behind Fairplay, Joel and Debby Pace’s farm.
Hounds were in sight now on the other side of Fairplay’s busy paddocks. Debby’s horses, many of them field hunters, were dividing their attention between the hounds that must have just come by them with great voice, and our field that had just appeared. The hounds crossed Brocker Road and continued into a thin strip of woods along side a large pasture full of horses. The line continued, turning west and across that paddock. Hounds lost, perhaps by the foil of the horses, but recast themselves and continued on the other side of the paddock, on the line into woods, now heading back south.
Charlie must have gone right up the driveway to the house at Fairplay as hounds followed with a good head and left their tracks in the flower beds near the sunroom as they turned west and into the woods. All of this happened in our sight as we trotted along onto Brocker Road. I suspect that we missed a view by just moments. We stopped in front of the house as there was no access available to those woods from our position. Hounds continued to speak to the west for just a few minutes until scent was lost.
Our Huntsman gathered hounds and staff quickly, and we circled back south to draw that covert. Our pack spread out and worked well together. There were bits of scent here and there, but nothing developed. It was snowing again by then, and visibility was down to less than a half mile with some wind out of the north.
We were delighted with our day, the wonderful performance by our hounds and a good run. After hacking hounds two miles back to the Kennels, we met for a lively breakfast at the White Horse Inn in Metamora.