Is there anything better than spending a rainy morning with a stack of old sporting books? Lessons abound. Modernity has changed many things for the better in kennel and hunt field, but there are also some wonderful pieces of advice that still ring true many decades after their proponents wrote or said them. And some are simply fun to recount.
“Don’t use the whip for every mistake your dog makes. Dogs are not like lions in a cage to be subdued by a show of force. Talk to the dog and prove to him by action and expression that he has done wrong. A dog follows his master’s expression more than the lash.” — Gen. Roger D. Williams, founder of the Iroquois Hunt, in The Fox Hound (1914)
“Every generation of breeders has warned its successors against any harmful blood which they have noticed may have crept in–not, perhaps, in quite such a drastic manner as did a famous huntsman to his son as he lay on his death-bed, his last words being, “Goodbye, son. Remember to avoid the blood of Grafton Silence!” — Isaac “Ikey” Bell in A Huntsman’s Log Book (1947)
“Without doubt, hounds would do more for the huntsman, if he loved them better. Dogs that are constantly with their master acquire a wonderful deal of penetration, and much may be done through the medium of their affections.” — Peter Beckford, Thoughts on Hunting (1781)
“No one who has not conducted a pack of foxhounds on early morning exercise has tasted the joys of life to the full; no one who has not accompanied them has lived at all.” — D.W.E. Brock, ca. 1930
“A first-rate handler of hounds knows just how much liberty he dare take with his hounds so as to pull off a good day’s sport or catch his fox. On the other hand, he will also know exactly ‘how to make it up to them’ the next time out hunting.” — Bell in A Huntsman’s Log Book again