Bedtime Stories: Scrutator

An occasional series in which we offer a pleasant “good night” to our readers, courtesy of hunting literature. Sweet dreams!

THIS is a blatant excuse to go back to reading one of the houndbloggers’ favorite sporting authors, Knightley William Horlocks, who fortunately used a less cumbersome pen name: Scrutator. It’s been a while since I opened up one of my favorite volumes, Scrutator’s The Science of Foxhunting (1868), but coming across that passage about Rummager and huntsman Frank Goodall reminded me. As it happens, my copy of The Science of Foxhunting is inscribed by Goodall, who presented it in 1870 to the Hon. Alan Pennington. So far I have found only a few brief references to Pennington in relation to hunting, although he appears to have been a Master for one season at the Holderness; according to Covertside Sketches by J. Nevill Fitt, he “resigned at the end of it on account of the scarcity of foxes.” Another mention of Pennington is in Annal of the Billesdon Hunt (Mr. Fernie’s) 1856-1913: Notable Runs and Incidents of the Chase, Prominent Members, Celebrated Hunters and Hounds, Amusing Stories and Anecdotes by the improbably named F. Pallister Costobadie (yes, really). Pennington, according to Pallister Costobadie, “used, with Sir Wm. Milner, to hunt from Billesdon, and with the Master and huntsman were generally to be found in the first flight. Nothing gave the writer greater satisfaction in his teens than when the fortune of the day, combined with youth and light weight, enabled him on a game old horse, once not unknown over ‘the sticks,’ to keep within measurable distance of this well-mounted quartet.”

And, indeed, underneath Goodall’s inscription in the Scrutator book, he has  written “Billesdon, 1870.”

But on to Scrutator himself, now. We have featured him before, in a 2009 Bedtime Story about the abduction of the Welsh hound Trojan.

Frank Goodall, huntsman of the Royal Buckhounds

I confess I know little about this favorite author’s life, other than that he resided in Gloucestershire at Ashwick House, where people seemed intent on destroying his rooks, and that he had an exceptionally good pack of exceptionally large hounds, as described by people who hunted with them. I’m hoping that Peter Brook over at Baily’s can enlighten me further, but in the meantime I can tell you that his writing is wonderful and that he is fascinated by hounds. “If he had done nothing more,” a commentator wrote of him in “Baily’s Magazine of Sports & Pastimes” in 1861, “the sporting world would owe him a deep debt of gratitude for having increased the pleasures of the hunting field, tenfold at least, by teaching us to interest ourselves in the hounds themselves, instead of resting satisfied with showing us, in what way we may run the least risk of breaking our necks, without detriment to the sport of our companions.”

And now, after that long prelude, we give you Scrutator.

A remarkable return

“As an instance of the extraordinary instinct in a foxhound which directs his way home, I may relate the following fact: The late Mr. Elton, of Stapleton House, who for many years kept a pack of foxhounds of Lord Egremont’s breed, conjointly with my father, to hunt both fox and hare, gave a hound which had bred a litter of whelps that year to a friend residing in Essex, but at that time staying with him. This hound was taken in his travelling chariot–the usual mode of locomotion in those days–from Bristol, right through London and thirty miles beyond. On the second night after her arrival there, she escaped from the kennel, and no tidings of such a hound being heard of or seen in the neighborhood could be gathered.

“Her new owner, after fruitless inquiries and researches, bethought himself, as almost a forlorn hope, of writing to her late master, telling him the day she absconded, when he was greatly surprised to learn that the hound had reached Stapleton on the fifth day after being missed from Essex. Knowing the instinct and sagacity of the canine race, this feat would not have appeared anything very wonderful, save for the hounds threading her way through the labyrinths of the great metropolis. She would have taken cognizance of the various inns on the road where the carriage stopped to change horses, and where, most probably, she alighted with her new master to stretch her legs. The sign of a large red fox, with a goose in his mouth, could not fail to attract her attention. A White Horse might bring to her mind the old grey mare ridden by the huntsman. The Goat and Compasses–etymologically explained by “God encompasseth us”–a phrase and sign in common usage during that arch-liberator or arch-fiend’s reign, Cromwell–would strike her as bearing some resemblance to deer which she had seen in a park near home. The Three Magpies, on Hounslow Heath, a very notorious posting-house in those times, were likely to have made some impression on her mind from those birds generally assisting hounds with their hoarse notes, when a fox is before them.”

A little eau de vie

“By the foxhunters of the old school, a few little extras were considered requisite to complete their equipment for the field. The loose shoe was generally attached to the saddle, in case of losses of this kind. A small leather case, for eau de vie or tincture of rhubarb, according to taste–the latter having been, as reported, the usual cordial taken by the great Mr. Meynell, when exhausted by the fatigue of a long run. De gustibus non disputandum.

Photo by Dave Traxler.

“That a drop of eau de vie has stood us in good need when meeting with accidents in the hunting field, we can vouch for, and once in particular, when our fox took his line through a farmyard up hill, which, there being no other mode of getting to the hounds by a high wall on either side, we were obliged to follow. Our only means of exit was through a door–not a gate–and being young, hot, and hasty at that time, without considering the difference of rising ground, instead of leading our horse through, which we ought to have done, we had the temerity to ride him. The consequences might have been seen had we allowed ourselves a moment for reflection. In lowering our head to pass under, the back of our neck came in contact with the lintel, which, being rather old, gave way; but the concussion was so severe that, finding ourselves on the point of fainting, we swallowed the contents of our flask, and scrambling out of the saddle lay flat on the grass.”

A close shave

“Sir Wheeler Cuffe, it appears from his own account, was the first man who introduced clipping, or, as he called it, ‘shaving horses.’ His stud being reduced by hard work or accidents, he was told of a good hunter then running loose in a farmyard (having been disabled the previous season), but now quite sound, although with a coat like a bear.

“A bargain having been struck with his present owner, he was transferred to the baronet’s stable, who, to bring him quickly into hunting trim, hit upon the novel expedient of first cutting off all the long hair, and then sending for the village barber, to lather and shave him all over excepting the head and legs; and he used to relate with great glee that, although well known before in the hunt, he was not recognized by even his former master after this metamorphosis, his colour having been quite changed.”

An exceptional deer

“Red deer generally–the stags I mean–are fierce and savage, particularly in the rutting season; the only exception to this rule in our experience being an aged one presented to us with other red calves by the grandfather of the present Duke of Beaufort, when we were also in our calfhood or boyhood, and by whom, being then Lord-Lieutenant of the county, we had also the honor of being appointed a magistrate at a very early date.

“This deer, which had been named ‘Mumbo Jumbo,’ from the terror inspired by his majestic size and appearance to all women and children, happened to be the most gentle of his kind. He would come down to the hall-door, and receive bits of bread and other things from the hands of our children, following them also about the park in the most dutiful manner. A friend of ours acquainted somewhat with the nature of red deer, remarked to us one day, ‘If you don’t kill that stag, he will some day kill one of your children.’

“‘We know him too well,’ was our reply, ‘or a bullet would have gone through his head long ago.’

“Poor old Mumbo Jumbo merited our confidence in him to the last. When, chilled by the blasts of a very inclement winter in a heavy fall of snow, he was found unable to rise from the ground, we had him conveyed upon a hurdle covered with straw into a loose box, where he was attended with assiduous care until his candle was burnt out; and his grateful acceptance of all our little attentions to his wants proved that he appreciated our kindness. Those who have studied deeply the characteristics of animal nature must have perceived something more than instinct cropping out in their conduct towards those who show them great kindness. ‘The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib,’ and so will every animal or bird in the creation respond in some way to gentle and kind treatment.”

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Rummager: a royal retiree

The Iroquois hounds on summer walk at Boone Valley.

THE houndbloggers came across this wonderful story while flipping through The Staghound for information about Frank Goodall. Goodall, not to be confused with WIll Goodall but one of that prolific family of huntsmen, was huntsman to the Royal Buckhounds (later, I believe, so was his nephew, also named Frank). In his 1897 book The Staghound, Lawdon Briggs Lee recalls an incident in which one of the pack’s hounds, Rummager, protected his huntsman after Goodall had taken a bad fall from his horse:

A pretty story is told in connection with Her Majesty’s buckhound Rummager. Some years ago, Frank Goodall, the then huntsman, met with a severe accident in the hunting field, and when assistance was to be rendered as he lay insensible on the ground, Rummager was by his master’s side, and for a long time would allow no one to approach him. On the story being related to Her Majesty, it was ordered that poor old Rummager should become a pensioner, have extra quarters and comfort bestowed on him, and so live out his natural life. His progeny remain in the kennels at Ascot, among the pillars of the present pack, which now has J. Comins as Royal huntsman, and the Earl of Coventry as “Master of the Royal Buckhounds.”

Nice story, and one we thought we’d pass along.

Glowworm has left us

Glowworm enjoyed a happy day out with her fellow retirees and visiting children last month at the Iroquois puppy show.

GLOWWORM, one of the Hound Welfare Fund‘s oldest retirees, died last week at age 17 after costing the fund almost nothing, except what it took to feed her during her long retirement.

Glowworm is by Iroquois Captain, one of the “old Iroquois” hounds from the days when foxes were more prevalent in our hunt country than coyotes and the pack, hunted by the late Pat Murphy, had more fox-chasing Walker hound blood. Glowworm resembled her sire both in coloring and longevity (Captain died at 18), but Glowworm also was a bridge between two eras in the pack. When coyotes became the local farmers’ scourge, Iroquois needed to breed a different, more biddable type of hound to chase this larger, faster game. Joint-Master Jerry Miller looked to England’s foxhound packs, and one of the bitches he imported was Glowworm’s mother, Grafton Gloria ’92.

Glowworm's pedigree combined American and English bloodlines and bridged two eras at the Iroquois Hunt.

The story of how Gloria came to be mated with Captain is one of the houndbloggers’ favorites. We asked Iroquois huntsman Lilla Mason, a whipper-in at the time the story took place, to tell it again.

“When Pat Murphy retired as Iroquois huntsman, he suggested which hounds we keep in the pack,” Lilla recalled. “At that time, the quarry hand changed to coyote, so we had to change, too. The old Iroquois hounds were more suited to trailing foxes than pressing coyotes. So we were infusing more English blood. But we wanted to keep some of the old Iroquois blood in the pack, simply because it was old Iroquois blood and good hound blood. One hound Pat wanted us to keep and use as a stallion hound was Captain, who also did well at hound shows. At the time, Pat and Bud followed the hounds together in a truck. Jerry (joint-Master and then huntsman Jerry Miller) told them that at the end of the season, he wanted them to tell him which of the English bitches they thought he should breed Captain to.

“What ensued was a serious argument that lasted the entire hunt season, and it was so bad that about halfway through the season they quit following the hunt together in the same truck and started following in separate trucks. By the end of the season, finally they did agree to breed Captain to a bitch called Gloria that we got from Tom Normington at the Grafton Hunt.”

A portrait of Glowworm by artist Lynn Judd, a former Iroquois Hunt member.

Glowworm went on to have her own fine hunting career, followed by an enjoyable retirement at the Iroquois Hunt kennels, where she was a beloved character. Most recently, she came to the Iroquois puppy and hound show in May, where she particularly enjoyed the attention of visiting children. You can see her in the day’s video (below), at the 3:22 mark.

“She was great in the kennel,” kennel manager Michael Edwards said. “You could put her with anybody and she’d get along with them. A lot of people in the hunt club remember Glowworm, and they’d always want to see her, and she was easy to pick out because her coloring was so different.”

Glowworm died in her sleep at the kennel on June 16 after a long, happy, healthy life.

“Practically the only thing she ever cost us was her food,” Lilla said.

Glowworm leaves behind many good memories, including Lilla’s favorite, from Glowworm’s early hunting days.

“I remember distinctly the day the light bulb went on for Glowworm,” Lilla said of Glowworm’s first season with the hunting pack. “That’s a phrase I use all the time for the day a puppy figures out where its nose is and what it’s really supposed to do with it. I remember it so well with Glowworm. We were at Brookfield Farm. That’s a great place for us to cubhunt, because it’s wide open fields with small coverts, so you can really see what every hound does. It’s easy to evaluate young hounds there because you can see who’s doing what.  I was whipping-in, and I was on the east side of a covert. A coyote came out of the east side and went straight across this five- or ten-acre grass field. I could see exactly where he went. He ran out into the field, and in the middle of it he took a hard, right-angle turn to the right. The hounds came out absolutely screaming on the line. Glowworm was in there with them, in the middle of the pack like a puppy would be, excited and screaming, too. This was probably December of her first season. The pack went screaming on the line, straight into the field, and slightly overran the line. When they did, they went silent. And the only one who never overran it and who turned exactly like the coyote did was little Glowworm.

Bud Murphy, shown here with Iroquois Hunt field secretary Betsy van Nagell at the 2011 Virginia Hound Show, was behind the mating of Gloworm's parents, Iroquois Captain and Grafton Gloria. Photo by Dave Traxler.

“I couldn’t believe it. She just followed her nose right along  that turn, and went screaming off in that direction, and the whole pack followed her. The rest of the pack kind of swirled around, but as soon as they went off in the direction she did, they all picked it up as well.It was the coolest thing, because she was a teeny, tiny thing compared to a big English hound. I’ll never forget that day. For a puppy to have the confidence and the nose and the drive to follow it in a frenzy like that, to cut right against what everybody else had done.”

Glowworm did have a last hunt not long after her official retirement, Michael reminded us.

“We took her and a bunch of the retired hounds on a little hunt around Jerry’s one day,” he said. “They struck off down in Archer’s Draw, and I was sitting up on the driveway waiting to see what they’d do. Here came Glowworm, Graphite, and Grizzle. They always hunted together, and they always had a tremendous desire to chase quarry. They’d been hunting around for a long time out of Archer’s Draw. And, sure enough, here came a coyote up the drive, kind of dragging his tail and panting and panting, and here came Glowworm, Graphite, and Grizzle behind him, panting and panting behind him. They were retired and weren’t moving all that fast, but he wasn’t that much faster than they were. We wondered if they’d found some old retired coyote! That’s one of my best memories of Glowworm.

“She was very, very boisterous and would talk to you,” Michael added. “When you’d get ready to feed, you could tell which one she was just by her bark. She had a higher-toned bark. And I loved her because she reminded me of Captain, who was one of my all-time favorites.”

They’re missing Glowworm’s bark these days at the kennel. Godspeed, Glowworm!

Virginia Hound Show video and a FUNraiser!

It's summer hound walk season! Joint-MFH Jerry Miller with some of the hounds at joint-MFH Jack and Betsy van Nagell's Boone Valley Farm last summer, as captured by photographer Dave Traxler.

The houndbloggers finally have some video for you from the Virginia Hound Show! Since Paper’s big victory in the single crossbred dog-entered class, everyone in the Iroquois kennel has been plenty busy. We’ve got updates on several topics, but first let’s go to the videotape from Viriginia …

Six days after the hound show, hounds and houndbloggers were back in Lexington, where the annual Hound Welfare Fund dinner and auction took place. The event’s honorary chair this year was the stylish and highly capable Kasia Pater, a passionate supporter of the Iroquois hounds, both retired and active. We are pleased to report that–thanks to our generous bidders, item donors, and cash donors–this year’s event, including the silent and live auctions, raised $68,000 for the retired Iroquois hounds! The top-priced item was Andre Pater‘s original charcoal and pastel work, “Awake,” which brought $16,000 after its unveiling at the pre-auction cocktail party.

Internationally renowned sporting artist Andre Pater with his charcoal and pastel work "Awake," specially created and unveiled at the 2011 Hound Welfare Fund dinner and auction. Thank you, Andre! Photo by Dave Traxler.

We’re so grateful to everyone who attended, bid, and made donations to the HWF, and to all of the artists and vendors who donated to the auctions. Because the Hound Welfare Fund is a 501(c)(3), donations are tax-deductible. So if you’d like to make a contribution, click on over to the HWF donation page, where you can donate online or by mail.

It’s only thanks to our generous donors that the Hound Welfare Fund has been a success for more than a decade and is now inspiring a new outlook on retiring working hounds.

Iroquois field secretary Betsy van Nagell with huntsman and HWF president Lilla Mason and HWF director Uschi Graham. Photo by Dave Traxler.

Remember: It’s all for the hounds! We are an all-volunteer fund, and none of our volunteers or committee members ever is reimbursed, even for expenses. Our volunteers really are volunteers who freely give their time, talent, and money to pay for our projects, and that’s a culture we’re proud of. If you’re a donor to the HWF, it means your money goes directly to buying medicine and food for the retired hounds–and never into someone else’s pocket.

John and Cathy Neal at the 2011 Hound Welfare Fund auction. Photo by Dave Traxler.

The fund’s 501(c)(3) status also means the Hound Welfare Fund abides by federal laws regulating charities and is highly transparent. Our form 990 tax information is public, and we can account for every dollar we raise–just as we can account for every retired hound in the fund’s care. For those of you who have been the retired hounds’ champions, thank you again for providing them with a dignified and peaceful retirement after their years of service on the hunt field.

Thanks to the Bulleits for concocting The Grundy to honor one of our best foxhounds. Photo by Dave Traxler.

Special thanks also are due to Betsy and Tom Bulleit. Using Bulleit Rye as a base, they developed a custom drink for the Hound Welfare Fund. Christened “The Grundy,” this hearty and delicious drink is named for one of the Iroquois Hunt’s all-time great hounds. And Leslie Penn, who headed up decorations for the silent auction, did an outstanding job.

The hunt club was dressed to the nines on auction night, thanks to caterer Cooper Vaughan, his staff, and decorating volunteers! Each diner also received a set of postcards depicting Iroquois retired hounds, taken by photographer Peggy Maness. Photo by Dave Traxler.

The Iroquois hounds like to thank their supporters whenever they can, so Baffle–the mother of both our prized BA litter and the new HA litter–made a special appearance at the pre-dinner cocktail party to meet and greet the guests whose bids will help provide for her when she retires from the working pack.

Artist and HWF supporter Andre Pater waxes lyrical about hounds as an appreciative Baffle, friend Morgen Federspiel, and Hound Welfare Fund supporters listen. Photo by Dave Traxler.

The Dodds were among those sharing good food and great camaraderie for a good cause. Photo by Dave Traxler.

Did the houndbloggers bid? Well, all right–the houndbloggers admit that they love a good auction, especially a charity auction, and even more especially a charity auction for hounds. So, yes, the houndbloggers did account for some game: an oil painting given by artist Hazel Morgan and a beautiful silver wine coaster donated by local businessman Zeff Maloney and Heritage Antiques.

The auction's honorary chair, Kasia Pater (left), perused the silent auction tables. Photo by Dave Traxler.

The bidding was pretty lively all evening, and several items drew especially hot competition!

Iroquois Hunt joint-Master Jerry Miller, whose leadership in retiring hounds inspired us to establish the Hound Welfare Fund, placed a bid. Photo by Dave Traxler.

In all, it was an evening of tremendous fun, all for a great cause.

Mary Moraja, Dr. Andrew Clark, and Kathleen Sullivan at the silent auction. Photo by Dave Traxler.

For more photos from the evening, see the Smilebox below:

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

You all made Baffle and the Iroquois hounds very happy with your generous support!

Baffle and the Iroquois hounds were very pleased with how the fundraiser went! Photo by Dave Traxler.

Now it’s summer hound walk season again, so we’ll be out with the hounds for their exercise–and watching the HA puppies with great interest to see how they do on these forays into the wider world with their kennel colleagues, the older and working hounds. We hope you’ll stay tuned for their adventures and more photos and videos!

Hounds, hounds everywhere: Virginia Hound Show

Photo by Dave Traxler.

THE Houndbloggers are still working on the video from the 2011 Virginia Foxhound Show that took place at Morven Park last weekend, but we are delighted to be able to share a slideshow of photos (see below) from that extremely picturesque, often elegant, and sometimes humorous event. Most of these photos were taken by roving photographer Dave Traxler, who was attending his first hound show, but we confess that we’re to blame for a few of them!

To see more beautiful photographs from the show and hound exercise before it, also click on over to Karen Myers’s terrific site, KLM Images, here. Pages 9, 10, and 11 feature some informal shots of the hounds at exercise–and at least one of Mr. Traxler at work!

We hope you enjoy this, and we hope to have video available in the next couple of days.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Tonight’s the night!

The Hound Welfare Fund‘s annual dinner and auction takes place this evening. For more details on some of the items on offer–including sporting artworks and the unveiling and sale of a new work by Andre Pater–click here and here. We thought you might also be interested in seeing some of the the night’s live auction items, too, and hear some of the voices behind the artists who support the fund, the first registered 501(c)(3) charity to care for retired foxhounds after their working days end due to age or injury.