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What is needed to start a hunt?

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  • What is needed to start a hunt?

    I know the usual question is "how do I start foxhunting?" to which I will admit that I don't really know. There aren't any within 2 hours of me so I've never had the opportunity.

    My question is: How does one start a hunt? How much land is needed? Where do you find the hounds? We definitely have both grey and red fox around as I've seen both.

    It seems sad that a whole group of people are missing out on what seems to be an amazing experience, all thanks to being so far away from "old hunt country" areas.

    Thanks in advance!
    The only thing the government needs to solve all of its problems is a Council of Common Sense.

  • #2
    There's only one club in my state.....and it's 3 hours from here. It's something that I've always wanted to do (even more so now that I'm more adventurous!), so I've wondered the same thing. It seems like so many have been around for generations when I read up on them.


    • #3
      1. Access to a vast fortune!!!

      and then some.....

      either your own or subscribers

      Insurance, paying staff (unless you have gifted local talent that is willing to work for free), feeding, housing, vetting hounds and horses are just a few of the ways your vast fortune would soon become a very small amount.


      • #4
        maybe the OP really wants to know

        Originally posted by jawa View Post
        1. Access to a vast fortune!!!

        and then some.....
        either your own or subscribers
        Insurance, paying staff (unless you have gifted local talent that is willing to work for free), feeding, housing, vetting hounds and horses are just a few of the ways your vast fortune would soon become a very small amount.
        I know your answer is meant to be funny, but I live a long way from any recognized packs, and I know a bunch of cowboys who hunt bears and mountain lions with hounds. They aren't wealthy by any means. Lion hunting packs are usually 8 to 12 hounds.

        I would really like to know how many hounds you need to hunt red fox or coyotes? (We have both). What do you have to know to take them hunting? How many people do you need, at minimum? Do the hounds have to come right away when you call, like a good duck dog? Sit? Stay? How big are they? (Blue tick and redbone hounds seem to be the favorite lion dogs, they are big, around 80 pounds). What does your horse have to know, aside from being able to gallop in the open without losing its mind? How do you get ready to hunt a piece of land? Maps? Lots of trail rides?

        There are huge tracts of public land out here, and any number of ranchers that would be thrilled to have people hunting coyotes, by any method.
        friend of bar.ka

        I am dressed up. These wellies are clean.


        • #5
          I hunt with a small farm pack, and certainly no one involved is wealthy! No paid staff, I doubt any specific insurance. Basically a family with a rich history of hunting and a love of hounds! Also, permission to hunt got grandfathered in when the land was donated to a land preservation organization. I am very fortunate.


          • #6
            Can you contact a group and get some advice from them? Maybe they can help with the hounds too. I would just ask.


            • #7
              Well, truly, what keeps me from doing it is 1) time and 2) money.

              But the real #1 requirement is land. You need to get permission from landowners to put together enough land to be able to hunt at least a couple of times a week without wearing out that land or the quarry. One needs less in the east than in the west due to differences in quarry- but you still need access to a fair chunk of real estate- and keeping in the good graces of the landowners is the biggest part of that 'time' requirement above.

              Foxhunters are a friendly and sharing bunch, so really, your best bet would be to hook up with a hunt in your area and learn more about it. The dynamics of hunting a pack of hounds are NOT something you can learn by just getting a bunch of hounds and turning them loose.

              Since it appears you have no hunting experience yourself, really, you need to join your nearest hunt and learn how to do it before trying to launch a new pack. Otherwise, what you propose strikes me as something like, 'well, I've always wanted to go to Paris but I've never flown in an airplane, can someone explain to me how to fly one so I can go?'


              • #8
                Good fox hounds are extremely well trained, yes, kind of like duck dogs. (I have seen our huntsman ride up to the edge of a two lane highway with 15 couple and have the entire pack heel and wait by his horse until he allowed them to cross) They must have pack manners as well as individual manners. Oh, AND they need to have good noses and know how to hunt.

                To hunt hounds you need at least one very experienced person to actually hunt the hounds, and two moderately experienced people to act as whippers in or assistants, and it's best if these individuals also work with the hounds in kennel and take them out for exercise a couple of times a week so they all get aquainted and work well together.

                As far as land goes, in the East where the quarry is usually fox rather than coyote, you need a couple thousand contiguous acres. If you plan to hunt the territory more than once a week, are hunting coyote, or are in wide open country, you'll need more land.

                Finally, it's not just galloping in the open that's an issue for a hunting horse; it's galloping in the open in close quarters with other horses, the presence of the hounds (most people who hunt will tell you that the horses understand what's happening and are excited by the presence and sound of the hounds.) and the hurry up and wait aspect. Many more horses misbehave at checks or on slow days than do on runs.

                It's a very big undertaking.

                The plural of anecdote is not data.


                • #9
                  Hounds- I would say most of the hunts that I have had the opportunity to go out with (more than 10 different hunts) have 15-35 hounds that they take out hunting on a given day. They have 45-60 hounds (and quite possibly more) in the kennels.

                  Why so many out hunting? They each have a job and together make it work so that you have a successful day. Some are fast, others slow, others have a nose that can work an old line, some rally the group with their enthusiasm, some add volume....

                  Why so many in the kennel? Old hounds that you started with that cant hunt every day, but are still valuable because they have so much experience and can teach your new hounds a thing or two. Your main pack would range in age from 8-2 or 3 years old, your new entry ( a litter or two you bred last year with 6-10 puppies per litter) and finally your puppies for this year (1-2 litters). You might skip one years breeding, but the norm is to have at least 1 litter of puppies.

                  How do you get your first hounds? They are generally drafted from existing hunts (not sold). Some are given, some are lent. You have to decide what type of foxhound you want to hunt. Some depends on your territory and some depends on your (assuming you hunt your hounds) personality. American, English, Penn-Marydel, or a cross bred hound.

                  Beverly is right on Time and Money being a constraint when you think of starting a hunt. Caring for 45-60 hounds. That's a lot of poop and a lot of food and a lot of exercise. Can you get by with fewer hounds, I'm sure you could, but even if its half as many, 20-30, that's a lot of mouths to feed.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thank you everyone! These are just the type of answers I was looking for. (yes, even the joking ones about a vast fortune and flying a jet to Paris. I get the humor!)

                    If I was to undertake such a thing (which at this point is obviously a pipedream), I would definitely try to not only gain experience myself first, but also try to reach out to people in the area who might be knowledgable.

                    In my dreamland, the hunt would probably only go out once a week on a Saturday since alot of us have regular jobs so we wouldn't be available during the week.

                    For those that do hunt but have to travel a long way, do you get up at an wee-early hour to get there or do you find a place to stay the night before/camp out at the hunting site?
                    The only thing the government needs to solve all of its problems is a Council of Common Sense.


                    • #11
                      Remember that hounds live to hunt- once a week isn't much and they will cost just as much to feed.

                      And whether you hunt or not, they do need exercise every day. I know some packs who don't walk out every day, and sure, you can get by with that (if you have a large kennel yard for them to move about in) but I sure wouldn't recommend that.

                      Just to play around- you could get by with just a few couple, say 5 or 6 couple, but you won't have great sport.

                      Another route is a 'trencher' pack, where a number of members keep a few hounds and bring them together for hunting. A pack in AZ hunts beagles from horseback instead of the more usual people-on-foot (jackrabbit is their quarry but you'd have cottontail back east)- a ton of fun and a potentiall consideration as a 'startup' where you might have lower level riders, the pace would be a bit slower but still a ton of fun watching the hound work.

                      Oh, edited to add PS re travel. I've trailered up to 3 hours one way for a day of hunting in the past, when I lived in VA. Out here in the west, the nearest possible meets are 6 hours away. So I don't tend to do that unless at least a couple of consecutive scheduled days (more often, 3 days to a week) are on the agenda.


                      • #12
                        I think cssutton hunts his own hounds with no membership or other staff; you might want to contact him for thoughts on going it alone.
                        ~ Horse Box Lovers Clique ~


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Dramapony_misty View Post
                          It seems sad that a whole group of people are missing out on what seems to be an amazing experience, all thanks to being so far away from "old hunt country" areas.
                          It is sad.

                          But you're looking at this from the rider's perspective. Not the sportsman's perspective.

                          Foxhunting isn't letting a bunch of dogs out to chase wildlife, while galloping your horse over private or public land.

                          It's hunting. Someone must know how to select, breed, (or acquire) good hounds - the right kind of hound for your territory.

                          That requires expertise - and that expertise must be hired or apprenticed. That's how it's done. You learn from an experienced hunter(s) willing to mentor you. Then you pass that knowledge on to younger people.

                          That person also has to know how to manage a good kennel, and must have the space and facilities - or be able to acquire both.

                          That person must also be able to depend on dependable whippers-in - who have to be extremely proficient riders, with bold horses, and a lot of free time - as well as being experienced with hunting or at least willing to put in the time and effort required to become proficient.

                          The hounds require extensive training, all spring, summer and fall. They must be exercised consistently. That requires an enormous time commitment as well as dedicated helpers - during the day when most people are at work.

                          That's a tall order. But there are a lot of new clubs out there - though maybe not in your area. If you would like to change that, you're going to have to have the money, time, and desire to learn about hunting.

                          Not all mounted foxhunting clubs are recognized by the MFHA. There are lots of farmers packs/private packs out there. Maybe not where you live, but they do exist. It's doubtful they advertise their existence - few sporting clubs do. They're private.

                          There are also plenty of coon hunters, night hunters (fox), bobcat, bear, etc. hunters.

                          If you like hunting with hounds, and mounted foxhunting isn't available near you, why not hook up with other sportsmen and go hunt with them?
                          Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                          Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                          -Rudyard Kipling


                          • #14

                            The above links will give you an idea of where the closest hunts are located and hopefully give you a contact.

                            Any hunting you can observe/participate in that involves dogs would be great, hounds (scent and in a pack) would be ideal, will give you lots of practical experience and knowledge of how things are/can be done.

                            If you don't have a hunt horse, car follow or get a livery horse for your first experience. If you let the hunt secretary know that you are truly interested in how fox hunting works, then he or she may be able to set you up with an experienced person in the field that can impart information as the day goes on.

                            If fox hunting exposure on a regular basis is not possible, I would check with your local small animal vets to see about other dog/hound hunting/hunters that you could get introduced to and get some extra experience that way.

                            We have a couple of friends who have coon hounds. We let them hunt on our property and we follow. Their voice can sure fill up the woods on a cold night.

                            You might be able to go to a fox pen and watch hounds work. (not sure if you have them near you.)

                            You could observe a bird dog working at a shooting preserve.

                            The more exposure you have to hunting in general, the more opportunities you will have to meet and learn from experienced dog hunters. You could be 1 introduction away from meeting someone local who has a private pack.


                            • #15
                              There are people who get together and hunt one or two of their hounds with other's hounds. Night hunters. Traditionally, Walker hounds are hunted around here at night. Coon hunters would be where I would start. They hunt on foot or sometimes on mules. Not all fox hunters are mounted and in scarlet . They do it for the music.
                              In fact, Mr. hardaway heard his first foxhounds by listening to night hunters.


                              • #16
                                A never ending supply of CASH....