Foxes and “foxes”

Red fox, by Rob Lee.

EVERY so often the houndbloggers like to cross over to the hounds’ hunt field rivals, the fox and the coyote, and today it is Charles James’s turn in the spotlight. To get you in the mood for fox tales, we recommend this link to you. It shows a series of three truly remarkable fox photographs that Virginia photographer Douglas Lees took on New Year’s Eve while out with the Orange County Hunt. Enjoy!

Foxes were not the first-choice quarry for mounted hunters with hounds. When the first hounds started hunting stags and the first beagles began with hares, foxes were considered such vermin that they were even beneath hunting with hounds, and no king really would want to be seen putting his hounds on such a lowly line as a fox’s. But farmers, understandably eager to protect their poultry and lambs, no doubt would do what they felt needed to be done. I’ve read that the earliest recorded attempt to hunt a fox with hounds was in 1534, when a Norfolk farmer set his dogs after one.

On the other hand, Chaucer (who lived circa 1343 to 1400) wrote an earlier verse depicting “dogges” of various types running after the fox that stole away with Chanticleer in the Nun’s Priest’s Tale. By the 1300s, mentions of “fox-dogs” have crept into royal records in England, suggesting that foxes were by now at least occasionally hunted, even if they were not yet preferred to deer. An 1833 edition of New Sporting Magazine has an interesting description of this, as follows:”From the accounts of the Comptroller of the Wardrobe of Edward the First, for 1299 and 1300, we may form some estimate of the small degree of repute in which fox-hunting, if indeed hunting it can be called, was held at that period. The fox-destroying establishment of that monarch consisted of twelve ‘fox-dogs’ (terriers not unlikely), with one man and two boys. The master of these fox-dogs’ and his two assistants were allowed sixpence a day, or two-pence each; and three-pence a day for a horse to carry ‘the nets’ was allowed from the 1st of September to the last day of April, which a half-penny a day was paid for the keep of each of the dogs. From these items it appears that the expense for men and dogs was the same all the year round, except that the huntsman and his two whippers-in received each a new suit at an expense for the three of thirty-four shillings and four-pence.”

“The whole concern,” the author writes, “savours so much of rat-catching.”

A not-very-dangerous and not-very-stinky Christmas fox.

In any event, hunting the fox–exclusively and on formal terms–eventually did catch on, and in a big way. England’s oldest foxhunt, the Bilsdale in Yorkshire, was organized in 1668 by George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. (A point of interest: that pack today now has a hunt country covering about 300 square miles. I know, I know–and I’m betting they’ve never heard of a McMansion before, either)

The general view of foxes as noxious vermin is made very clear indeed in a book we’ve quoted here before, Edward Topsell‘s The History of Four-Footed Beasts, published in 1607. Of Reynard, now considered our hounds’ beautiful and noble rival on the field, Topsell said: “If the urine of a Foxe fall upon the grasse or other Herbs it drieth and killeth them, and the earth remaineth barren ever afterward.” And also: “He stinketh from Nose and taile.” Well, all righty, then. Mr. Topsell liketh not the Foxe, we presume.

Topsell's version of a fox in his History of Four-Footed Beasts

Regarding the fox’s “stink,” we have found a little note in the slim 1951 volume The Way of a Fox by Douglas St. Leger-Gordon. He says: “A path used by dog, wolf or fox is punctuated by intelligence depots where each passerby picks up the news, learns something about the identity, sex and general history of the last comer, and leaves a memento of his or her own visit. … A fox’s intelligence depot  is always indicated by the strong musky scent which is as permanent as that of wood-smoke about an old-fashioned hearth. … Contrary to common belief, a fox does not diffuse its strong personal odour upon the air as it passes along in the same way that a glamorous lady exudes ‘Evening in Paris,’ nor is it correct to assume when catching a vulpine whiff that the creature has recently crossed the road or path. One seldom winds a fox where it has been seen, nor does experience bear out the convention that the smell–for it is quite distinct from scent–rises after a while and becomes perceptible to human senses.more important still, the strong taint that assails the nostrils when near some port of call (and nowhere else, I think, under normal circumstances) has nothing to do with the ordinary bodily odour of the beast. … Like cats and many weasels, a fox only gives forth its overpowering aroma at moments of intense agitation, as when attacked, or under the influence of strong emotion.”

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The houndbloggers would be interested to see what scientists have learned that might contradict–or vindicate–this view in the years since 1951.

But within six decades, between The History‘s publication and the Bilsdale Hunt’s formation, the fox had become appreciated for its guile and resourcefulness, and for the challenge it presented on the hunt field. This has led not only to countless interesting, and sometimes heartbreaking, and usually very chilly and often quite damp, hours on the hunt field for many, many generations since. It also had produced a rich history of Reynard’s exploits and how they foiled (or failed to foil) the hounds. We give you one from Cuthbert Bradley, a Hound Blog favorite.

“Wheeling sharp to the left, hounds ran hard leaving Quarrington on the right, across a flat strip of arable country. Here the pilot, evidently meaning to reach Rauceby, was headed by a sheep dog, and turned for Silk Willoughby village, where an open cottage door offered a welcome shelter after a quick hunt of 20 minutes. A baby lay on the hearthrug in front of the fire, while her mother busied herself about the house; the fox jumping over the infant went up the chimney. The alarmed mother had the presence of mind to slam the cottage door just as hounds dashed up, or possibly there would have been a tragedy. Gillard was quickly on the scene with hounds, all apologies for the rude intrusion of the hunted one; and the villagers came running up in eager curiosity, flattening their noses on the window pane. …

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Caine Croft, the whipper-in, climbed onto the roof peering down the chimney-pot, where he could see the fox sitting on a ledge. A clothes prop was borrowed, and Cox of Ropsley, a keen foot-hunter, out on every possible occasion with the Belvoir, went into the house with Gillard and Mr. James Hutchinson, to get hold of the fox. When Cox eventually appeared in the doorway, holding the sooty form at arm’s length–after his teeth had been through his coat sleeve–the village yokels fled out of the garden as though they had caught sight of the devil himself. Carrying the fox into the open he put him down in an adjoining field, and after dwelling a moment or two, he shot away, like an arrow from the bow.”

The Royal Artillery “Fox”

Today, of course, the English no longer hunt live foxes, but only the “stink,” slopped in liberal doses on a drag. To see what this new “fox” looks like, click on the video below from the 2011 Boxing Day meet of our local hunt when we are in England, the Royal Artillery Hunt on Salisbury Plain. The “fox,” mounted this time with the drag swaying from the thong of her hunt whip, appears at about the 24-second mark.

As for the smell, we didn’t get close enough to whiff it (the camera allows us to zoom). Customized recipes for drag scents seem to be pretty numerous, involving everything from aniseed to fox’s urine (the latter features in the Chiddingfold, Leconfield, and Cowdray Hunt‘s drag, which nearly causes huntsman Sage Thompson to vomit after he sniffs a bottle of the drag-line’s mixture in Michael Slowe’s documentary “Hounds and the Huntsman,” available here). We haven’t asked the Royal Artillery how they make theirs!

A couple of notes about the Royal Artillery. The hunt has a wonderful history and still remains very true to its deep roots in the British military. They drag-hunt over Salisbury Plain, which also is the main domestic training ground for British soldiers, and in this video you will see some of the features of that unusual hunt country. You’ll see the field gallop past a “village,” an unoccupied collection of buildings used for various military training exercises and one of the military features that dot the Plain. The RA Hunt does not have any jumps to leap, but that’s not to say that their hunt country isn’t challenging, because it certainly can be, in a most unconventional way. There are the foot-deep tank tracks that criss-cross the land and which must be negotiated diagonally if you’re to get over them safely, as well as slit trenches that can appear almost without warning and the occasional bits of ammunition (some potentially unexploded, as the sign in the video warns) and missile wire!

And if you’re wondering why their huntsman is wearing a green coat instead of the expected red one, that’s a hat tip to the hunt’s former life as a harrier pack. Huntsmen of beagle, basset, and harrier packs traditionally wear green.

The houndbloggers have hunted with the RA Hunt a few times and count those days as among our happiest and most interesting. Before we leave the subject of the Royal Artillery entirely, we should note that one of its staunch followers, Estelle Holloway, died not long before the Boxing Day meet featured in our video. We have quoted her excellent book Hounds, Hares, and Foxes of Larkhill several times here and value it as a great resource concerning the RA Hunt’s fascinating history.

The Year That Was

So how did the blog do in 2011? If you’re interested in our annual statistics, there’s a link to our stats report below. The upshot is that you all helped the hound blog reach new heights in 2011! The blog was viewed about 39,000 times in the course of the year, mostly by viewers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. The most-viewed post of 2011 was The Eider Has Landed, our report of Eider’s arrival at Beagle House on Jan. 16, 2011. (Eider, understandably, is pretty excited about this, but he’s not letting it go to his head.) The year’s top five posts of the year, in terms of views:

1. The Eider Has Landed (Jan. 16, 2011)

2. MFHA hunt staff seminar, part 4: Wiley Coyote (April 26, 2010)

3. Beagles, bassets, and dozens of running bunnies (with two videos!) (Feb. 28, 2010)

4. St. Hubert and the Blessing of the Hounds (Nov. 3, 2009)

5. Houndbloggers Abroad: Hunting’s historic clothiers (a tale of goss, coodle, and ventile lining) (Oct. 28, 2009)

To see the stats report, click on the link below this box:

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 39,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

As promised: Royal Artillery hounds video

THE video is from our visit to the Royal Artillery Hunt’s March 24, 2010, meet in England. In addition to seeing the hounds that belong to Great Britain’s last remaining military-affiliated foxhound pack, we also enjoyed a very tasty stirrup cup that included sausages, cake, and port. And, though I didn’t see any, there probably was also some whisky mac in attendance. Foul, but traditional.

We described the meet a little in a previous post, but I’ll add a few more words on the pack, because its history is interesting. The pack was organized in 1907 when a Mr. Arthur Ernest Hussey gave his harriers to the Royal Artillery officers stationed in Bulford, and the pack was first known as the RA (Bulford) Harriers. At least as early as 1903, the artillery officers had been known  to hunt with Hussey’s pack from his Netheravon kennels and environs. During World War I, the pack was largely destroyed as the artillery went to war and wartime privations made keeping the pack impossible. Hussey himself had joined up as a Lieutenant in the Wiltshire Regiment. He never was posted to France, and for a time he took over the Mastership of the RA (Bulford) Harriers as well as of the nearby Courtenay Tracey  Otterhounds (now defunct). But in her excellent book about the hunt’s history, Hounds, Hares and Foxes of Larkhill, author and longtime RA Hunt member Estelle Holloway provides this sad description of the events of 1917:

“In 1917 England was starving due to the menace of German U-boats, and lack of food forced Captain A. E. Hussey to put down his beloved pack of RA (Bulford) Harriers.”

But after the Armistice in 1919 the Isle of Wight harriers went to the RA on loan for a single season so that the artillery could start up hunting again. A year later, the artillery purchased the Instow pack of the West Country Harriers, mostly old hounds that had survived wartime and many with pedigrees that the Hunt Record noted politely as “unobtainable,” for 300 pounds.

Brigadier J. H. Gibbon DSO (left) was the first Master to hold the position when the pack switched to foxhounds.

According to a history of the RA pack, “it was originally laid down that each brigade at Bulford and Larkhill should provide at least one whipper-in, and opening meets were always celebrated at Bulford Mess.”

Hunting legend Ikey Bell, the master of the nearby South and West Wilts pack, was impressed with the RA hounds of the era. Of them he wrote:

The only occasion on which I began to feel anxious for my pack’s laurels was when Major Scott-Watson brought down a couple of his little hounds from Bulford Camp. This couple was of Quarme Harrier blood, and all day they held their place in front, and once when the pack were checked by sheep, carried on the line. No-one was more delighted than their gallant Master when I cheered his little couple with a “Forward to Bulford! Yooi!” and later on handed him the mask of a good fox, which his little treasures had played a full part in bringing to book.

When World War II broke out in 1939, most of the harrier pack was destroyed again as the hunt staff and members went to war in Europe. The Hunt Record notes that seven couples were saved. But feeding them proved difficult, because only foxhounds, considered important for keeping down foxes that killed sheep, were classified as “pest control” and therefore could receive rations.

The Royal Artillery foxhounds today.

A general, Gen. John Frost, heard that the small Quarme Pack in Exmoor–which had contributed some fine blood to the RA harriers Bell had so admired 20 years earlier–also was about to be destroyed because they could not be fed adequately during wartime. He intervened, bringing the pack to Bulford and kenneling them there with some of the RA Harriers’ remainders. With these, he got in some hare-hunting on the Plain despite the war.

Eventually, the pack was added to five couples of foxhounds from four other dwindling packs, and the cavalry at Tidworth took over the lot.

The war did not, in any case, prevent some soldiers from trying to hunt while in their units. As Holloway writes, “Major Selby-Lowndes took a pack of beagles to France with the British Expeditionary Force, while Freddie Edmeades was somewhat unlucky. He included a couple of harriers in his baggage and was forced to spend an uncomfortable night in a French gendarmerie accused of poaching!”

After the war, the pack gradually regrew and transitioned to foxhounds. It was recognized by the Master of Fox Hounds Association in the fall of 1946.

The Royal Artillery hounds with professional huntsman Rob Moffat on March 24.

The kennels are still located at Bulford Camp, where they were built in 1934, and in a day out with the Royal Artillery you are sure to meet many military men and women.

To learn more about the hunt and to see some marvelous pictures of their hunt country in the Salisbury Plain military training area, we heartily recommend the hunt supporters’ club website. Photo galleries of the hunt can be found here. The slideshow of the Packway meet, located here, also features some very nice photos of riders in military dress for the hunt, giving you some sense of the hunt’s style and panache.

A postscript about Ikey Bell

I recently came across a quote attributed to Bell on behalf of working dogs everywhere. Considering the purpose of the Hound Welfare Fund that is linked so closely with this blog, I thought I’d share it. It describes the houndbloggers’ view very well.

Cherish us for our courage

Instead of our looks;

Look on as more as comrades,

And less as picture books.

Houndbloggers Abroad: A Royal Artillery meet

The Royal Artillery hounds with professional huntsman Rob Moffat at the March 24 meet.

ANY trip that starts off with hounds has to be good! Not long after we landed in England, we attended a meet of the Royal Artillery Hunt, Britain’s last surviving military foxhound pack.

The Royal Artillery Hunt is unusual in many ways, most notably for its hunt country. Most people, when thinking about English foxhunting, conjure up images of the rolling grasslands and terrifying five-foot hedges that Leicestershire’s fashionable hunts face on their fast runs. But the Royal Artillery hunts (within the law as decreed since the hunt ban of 2005, so they now drag hunt) across Salisbury Plain (for one photo, see here, though this doesn’t do full justice to the plain’s amazing sweep and great beauty). That presents an altogether different set of challenges for horse and rider.

Salisbury Plain appears, from a distance, innocently simple to cross. It is vast and, though a plain, it has quite a few gentle rises that just beg you to gallop up them. (Its most famous feature, incidentally, is Stonehenge, which once was a regular meet for the RA hounds!) The plain’s openness makes it a great place to watch hounds, and the hunt country’s description at the Master of Fox Hounds Association website makes it sound uncomplicated enough: “There is very little jumping: there are always ways round any fences. It is a good country for seeing hounds work, with few of the problems generally encountered in modern hunting. Sport is varied; there are some good long runs of up to ten miles unimpeded by roads, railways, wire or urban sprawl. Any horse, young or old, would enjoy a day on Salisbury Plain. The RA Hunt is run on military lines and is an exceptionally friendly hunt with a jolly atmosphere. Fields average up to 60 on a Saturday and up to 30 on Wednesday.”

The RA hounds were interested in the stirrup cup.

But the 300 square mile Salisbury Plain also is a military training ground, and once you ride out on it, you begin to realize just how tricky it can be for the unwary! What the MFHA site doesn’t tell you is that you will occasionally gallop around a bend to find a tank or two in your path. There are horse-eating slit trenches dug into the ground here and there. Part of the hunt country passes a mock village used to train troops in house-to-house combat.  And the tank tracks can be a foot deep and extremely awkward to cross if you don’t know the trick to it, which is to always, always take them on the diagonal, and never try to cross them on the perpendicular. Children are almost always welcome to join the hunt, but not, the hunt says somewhat ominously, “on days of military activity.” You get the idea.

For more general information on Salisbury Plain, click here.

The Royal Artilery hounds. You’ll notice a few that are slightly woolly, but most are smooth-coated.

Once you’re over your initial surprise at the unusual conditions, you settle in to a great day of hound-watching. Despite the military activity, including regular firing pratice, the vast plain is full of wildlife, including red foxes, badgers, and the great bustard, a large bird. It also has some farmland, and so there’s a lot to see. And Salisbury Plain is truly beautiful, changing colors with the seasons and as cloud and sun pass overhead. Definitely worth a trip.

A handsome pair in conversation at the Royal Artillery meet.

A note about the gray horse you see in the picture above. We’ve bumped into him before–and photographed him–on our last trip to England, when we visited a horse trials at Larkhill, a racecourse and fixture for the RA hounds. That day, he was ridden by an officer in the horse trials, and on this day he was taken hunting by another officer. The horse’s name is Ollie, and we recognized him easily, because he is missing his left eye–not that that stops him from leading a highly active life as one of the Royal Artilery saddle club’s mounts!

The saddle club provides an excellent opportunity for soldiers to learn to ride or to continue riding, and there are lots of chances for them to compete, too, in local events. It’s a great feature that undoubtedly has helped introduce more people to the joys of a day behind hounds.

Let's gooooooo!

One of the RA hounds makes the rounds at the meet

You’ll also notice that the hunstman and Masters of the RA Hunt wear green coats, instead of scarlet. This is a nod to the pack’s history as a harrier pack; the staff and Masters of harrier packs, as well as of beagles, traditionally wear green coats, and the RA have kept that tradition even after switching to foxhounds in 1946.

The RA hunt staff wear green as a nod to the RA Hunt's history as a harrier pack. The RA changed its pack to foxhounds in 1946.

Some of the RA pack's woollier members.

We will have video from this meet, including hounds’ voices and the huntsman blowing his horn to gather start off from the meet, on Wednesday when we are back in Kentucky.

Food for thought …

To no one’s surprise, yes, I have been hunting the fertile ground of England’s second-hand bookstores again! As always, Mr. McGregor’s shop and the Heads’  sporting bookstore yielded treasures. From McGregor’s (better known by its formal name of d’Arcy Books, in Devizes), this great quote from Lord Willoughby de Broke’s The Sport of Our Ancetsors:

“When a highly-bred pack of Foxhounds have been running full cry for nineteen minutes and come to a check, the first thing they do is to quarter the ground and fling themselves this way and that, all with heads down, and some with hackles up, to recover the scent. There is nothing more beautiful and wonderful that this in the whole of Fox-hunting. Any mere human being in a red coat who tries to correct animal instinct at sublime moments like these, by makng a noise on a copper instrument, is at once a Philistine and a fool–a Philistine to try his hand on what nature is doing for him so much more artistically than he can do it for himself; a fool because no good pack of Foxhounds would take th slightest notice of him if it were anything like a scenting day.”

And speaking of copper instruments …

Next week we’ll also have a little video of the Cheffins auction at which the great 19th century huntsman Will Goodall’s horn was sold for £2600.  Sellers Denise and James Davies of Zimbabwe were delighted with the price but confessed to having mixed feelings about the sale.

James and Denise Davies (left and right), sellers of Will Goodall's hunting horn this week, with a houndblogger in the middle

The Davieses, like the houndbloggers, feel certain that the horn did indeed belong to Will o’ Belvoir, the subject of Lord Henry Bentinck’s classic hunting treatise “Goodall’s Practice,” and they are committed to trying to solve the greatest mystery of all: how the horn got from Goodall’s home at Belvoir Kennels in England after his death in 1859 to an auction house near Harare, Zimbabwe, some 150 years later.

The Hounds of War: A Veterans Day for Hunting Soldiers

RA Officers at the RA hunter trials 2009

British officers, retired and current, and soldiers turned out in force at the Royal Artillery hunter trials in England last month. The Royal Artillery is one of the world’s military regiments with a long and storied connection to both horses, hounds, and hunting.

IT’S Veteran’s Day if you’re in America, Remembrance Day if you’re in the United Kingdom, and so it’s a good day to reflect on the deep historical connection between the armed forces and hunting.

It’s less obvious now than it used to be, but you can still see outcrops in a few remaining military (or military-associated) packs, particularly in England. One example: The School of Infantry Beagles, now merged with another pack and called the Wiltshire and Infantry Beagles, retains its links with the infantry school and is a member of the Army Beagling Association (the mere fact that there is such a thing as the Army Beagling Association tells you a lot about the entwined history of pack hounds and soldiers). Britain’s last surviving military foxhound pack, the Royal Artillery Hunt, became a drag hunt after the 2005 hunt ban in England. The hunt’s country is Salisbury Plain, England’s main military training ground, and it is not at all unusual, when riding with the Royal Artillery hounds, to come upon tanks and shellholes. There are few jumps there, the main obstacles being slit trenches and the impressively deep tank tracks that must be navigated safely. And fragments of ammunition and military hardware are common, as parts of Salisbury Plain are impact areas for artillery practice.

For a little more on the history of British soldiers’ involvement in hunting with pack hounds, this is an interesting source, from a Parliamentary exploration of the whys and wherefores of the hunting soldier.

In the United States, the most notable military-foxhunting link is through the Fort Leavenworth Hunt, organized in 1926 by the 10th Cavalry regiment. The pack was disbanded during World War II but was reconstituted in 1964, and today still proudly counts military members among its numbers–including veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The hounds are American hounds.

Current Joint MFH at FLH, COL Joyce DiMarco

Current Joint MFH at FLH, COL Joyce DiMarco

Back in the day, by which we mean before World War II, there were far more American military hunts, including the Artillery Hunt (Ft. Sill), Cavalry Hunt (Ft. Riley), Infantry Hunt (Ft. Benning), and 1st Cavalry Division Hunt (Ft. Bliss).

For more fascinating history of military foxhunts, especially in the United States, try the blog at A Horse Soldier’s Thoughts.

Xenophon, the Greek military leader and horseman who lived from around 430 to about 354 B.C., wrote of hunting:

The advantages that those who have been attracted by this pursuit will gain are many. For it makes the body healthy, improves the sight and hearing, and keeps men from growing old; and it affords the best training for war.  … In an attack on the enemy they will be able to go for him and at the same time to carry out the orders that are passed along, because they are used to doing the same things on their own account when capturing the game. … In the rout of the enemy they will make straight for the foe without a slip over any kind of ground, through habit. If part of their own army has met with disaster in ground rendered difficult by woods and defiles or whatnot, they will manage to save themselves without loss of honour and to save others.

I have heard far more recent commanding officers who have led troops in modern warfare say they still feel hunting provides valuable training today.

KIng's Troop rider on a gun horse

Members of the Royal Artillery’s elite King’s Troop ride the powerful gun horses in competition as well as in their ceremonial duties.

One, a former Master and huntsman at the Royal Artillery, told me that there were two important things, in particular, that soldiers still can learn from the hunt field: knowledge of the land and the wind and how to use them to their own advantage, and how to improvise and change plans under pressure when, as happens both in hunting and in war, the original battle plan falls apart due to conditions on the ground.

(Incidentally, the officer/MFH/huntsman in question also tells a fantastic tale of his days stationed in Cyprus, when his appointed “fox” for the drag hunt mislaid the line—right down the middle of land held by the Greeks on one side and land occupied by their enemies the Turks on the other. He said he felt he had little choice but to stand up tall in his irons and blow his horn for all he was worth as the hounds went on a screaming run through what should have been a sort of no man’s land. The Turks, he said, remained silent, but the Greeks all stood up and cheered. Nobody, happily, fired.)

Tank and coop at the RA hunter trials

Not your usual coop! The final jump at the Royal Artillery hunter trials.

Time with hounds wasn’t only considered good training at home; it was also good sport for troops–or at least their officers–abroad.

The Crusaders took hounds with them, and King Edward III took 60 couple of “large hounds,” as well as greyhounds, for hunting purposes when he invaded France in 1359. In 1812, during the Salamanca campaign, the Duke of Wellington “encouraged his officers to follow hounds, which he kept during this campaign,” according to Hounds and Hunting Through the Ages, by Joseph Thomas, MFH. When forced to retreat, Wellington wrote to his adjutant general: “If you should be pressed by the enemy, and if you should move, take care that all our stores and people (including my hounds at Arevalo) move off.”

Tales of hound packs on the Western Front during World War I also abound.

Again, from Thomas’s book, an account by P.W. Nickalls, an officer of the Northants Yeomanry:

We first had a couple of harriers and a beagle; in 1916, we moved down the line to a village called Harbarque, behind Arras. Someone told us there of a farmer in the neighborhood who had hounds before the war and still kept some. I went to see him and found he still had 50 couple of sorts. Greatly to my surprise I saw four couple of very light-colored hounds that I thought I recognized. Sure enough, they came from my friend Herman Tiarks, Master of the Mendip in Somerset. I knew the brand of old, and returned in triumph with all four couple. Then our regular fox hunting began.

The best hunt of all was when we killed our fox close under Mt. Saint Eloi. … I was riding a good English hunter, but even he was getting beat, and we were longing for the end to come. We were riding straight for the second line. As I jumped into a road I met a party going down to the trenches. The officer halted them, and was waving his tin hat in wild excitement. ‘You will have him in three fields.’ he yelled, and sure enough we did.

There are also numerous documented accounts of British officers, one a Brigadier-General, in the Great War who rallied their men by blowing their hunting horns.

And George Washington (above, in the snazzy hat) was well-known as a keen hunter and hound man who even forgave one of his French foxhounds, Vulcan, when he stole an entire ham right out of the Mt. Vernon kitchen just as a large formal dinner party was sitting down to dine. According to Washington’s butler, a fight ensued between hound and kitchen staff, but Vulcan came out the best and galloped off with the ham in his jaws. Upon being told, Washington laughed.

And one last piece of evidence for soldiers’ historic affinity for hounds and hunting, as described by Thomas:

“In the current year, 1928, we find this enthusiasm reflected on a piece of paper attached to the will of Captain Arthur Marmaduke Whitaker, late Duke of Wellington’s regiment, which reads:

‘Wishes for my wife to carry out at my death: I trust (should it be suggested) that if I die in the hunting season, hounds will not be stopped on my account, as I never can understand why people should be made more miserable than necessary.’

Here’s to you, Captain Arthur Marmaduke Whitaker–and to all of you who serve and have served!