I came out the door, looking for my son, and I saw him in the long grass by the pond. He motioned for me to join him and whispered that a lion was drinking from the pond. We lay still for a moment, then edged forward for a better view of the animal. All of a sudden, the long grass parted and a large, furry animal pounced on us without warning.
The world’s largest Golden Retriever had spotted us watching him and wanted to say hello. My 5-year-old son Jordan had successfully stalked our dog again, much to the delight of both.
That incident was one of the many early indications I had that my son loved hunting. When he was 6, he spent the entire summer sleeping outdoors in our backyard with that dog in a tent. That fall, he got his first single-shot .22 and showed his early skill with a gun.
But everything changed when I brought home a tri-colored foxhound. Jordan was then 7. He’d been raised watching hunting videotapes, and he knew exactly what to do with that hound. He and the hound, Cassie, roamed the farm, working every covert to find a fox. Jordan even fashioned a horn from a piece of PVC pipe and began mastering the art of working hounds by sound.
Later that year, a client of mine gave me an old pack of Beagles that his father had hunted. I acquired a World War II bugle as Jordan’s new horn, and they were off and hunting.
The best hound in the small pack was partially crippled, but very game to hunt. Jordan would carry her to the covert, where she would push whatever game was in the bush out, and the other hounds would give chase. Then, Jordan would pick up the striker and run with the pack, horn in one hand and hound under the other arm.
We got more Beagles, and a selection of various part-hound dogs, and Jordan hunted them almost every day. It never occurred to me during this time how marvelous it was that this young boy could get a pack of mixed-breed dogs to pack in, hunt, and follow him.
And he always seemed to have a natural ability with animals and a special gift of knowledge of the outdoors. One night, when we were coon hunting, he told me that we were being watched. Very slowly, he approached a stand of trees and found a fawn hiding in the covert. I asked him how he knew where to look, and he said he just knew.
Beagles, Bassets And More
During this time, one Basset hound would show up every Sunday to hunt with Jordan’s pack. He was always waiting for us when we arrived at the farm, and he would run with the pack, eat the after-hunt meal, and leave for his home. We never knew where he came from, and we never saw him during the week.
At age 8, Jordan started hunting coonhounds and hunting other game on the farm in earnest. By that time, our pack was up to 10 hounds, and Jordan had begun to hunt them on horseback.
The big moment came when I took him foxhunting for the first time with the Greenville County Hounds (S.C.). He was 9 and mounted on one of the most hardheaded ponies we ever owned. But he made every coop and stayed with the field all day. As I remember, his eyes didn’t leave the hounds once that whole day.
After Jordan’s second hunt, he tied his pony to the trailer and went to the kennels, just as if he was supposed to be there. It was the beginning of a long and true friendship between him and Gerald Pack, Greenville’s MFH and huntsman. From then on, in the field or at the kennels, if you saw Gerald, you saw Jordan.
Gerald has imparted to Jordan years of hard-learned knowledge of hounds and hunting, and they share a bond that can only exist between student and teacher. This season, Gerald let Jordan hunt the Greenville County hounds for the first time, and most of the field said that they couldn’t tell, from voice or horn, when the change had been made.
When Jordan turned 10, we bought Tristan, a staff horse from another hunt, and Jordan started whipping-in. The bond Jordan has formed with Tristan has really been something to watch. I think they share a brain. They seem to think alike and move together. Sometimes it’s hard to discern who makes the decisions, but in the field they work superbly together.
Over the years, we have whelped six litters of hound puppies, retired 10 older hounds to the Old Mill Foxhounds (Jordan’s private pack), attended all the Carolina Hound Shows (Jordan won the horn-blowing contest in 2000), held puppy auctions, managed hunter paces, built coops, and worked at the annual horse show. It comes as no surprise that Jordan wants to become a professional huntsman after college.
In the fall of 2004, Jordan will attend St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College in Pinehurst, N.C., to major in equine management. Choosing this school was easy for him, since the Moore County Hounds are so close to the campus. Of course, Tristan will go to college with Jordan.
Jordan’s thirst for hunting goes beyond the field. He spends many a night reading Covertside, the Chronicle, or watching a hunting videotape for the hundredth time. He also spends time on hunting websites, talking to others who share his passion for foxhunting. The people contributing to those sites are very good at encouraging young people.
This December, Jordan turned 18 and wore his first scarlet coat while hunting. It seems just yesterday that I was following a small boy with a bugle and a motley pack of hounds around the farm. I don’t know where life will take Jordan’I only know that it will include horses, hounds and hunting. I also know that raising a son with a gift for animals and hunting has been one of the best joys a parent can experience. If I ever need to locate Jordan, I can just follow the cry of the hounds.