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The Ladies Go Hunting


By Cary Hart

Mid-week hunts are always chancy due to work schedules. So when the call for a Friday hunt recruited only the ladies of Oak Grove Hunt, an exciting excursion was in the making. They all jumped into their pickup trucks and headed for the newest hunt fixture (territory): Chickasaw State Park in Chester County, TN.  Everyone from 6-year-old Evelyn McGee, on her very short pony Blackjack, to the Haflinger contingent of Brynna Bartlett, Cary Hart, visiting from England, and Amanda McGee, Huntsman, to gaited rider Brynda Read headed east. Barbara Henking was road whipping and First Whipper-in Peggy Hart was assisted by Ashley Evans, who became an honorary staff member, as the hounds were introduced to a totally new type of country.

Heavy woodlands, both hardwood and pine, make up the primary terrain in the park, with graveled trails throughout.   The most viable areas for game are the ones that have been logged. They range from bare, newly logged land to new growth of sedge, greenbriar, and other first growth plants, hiding the trash left from the logging. Hunting territory this required hounds to work thick covers, scramble through brush piles, and traverse the steep hills.  The pack was up to the task, hitting a line shortly after being released to hunt by the Huntsman! The pace was slow due to the terrain and the quarry, which was never viewed, as the trail wound around and around in the cover.  Finally moving west and north toward the group camp road and then turning back north, the pack was seen running a line parallel to the King Trail.

Hats off to Evelyn, whose pony got bogged down at the bottom of the valley, where runoff had created streams of soft mud. While she did pop off and her pony scrambled out over the top of her, she gamely got back on and continued the hunt, only to later be attacked by the undergrowth, with facial scratches to prove her mettle!  Other members returned to the trailers, also with scratches testifying to their hard riding.  Horses and riders will have to be very fit for this new territory, but it was beautiful and still in the bright sunshine, and certainly worth many more visits.

It was a fun day, although it was apparent that this territory is going to take a lot of learning to be hunted well. But the Oak Grove ladies are a group willing to take it on! All hounds were accounted for and put in the hound trailer before the food, which Oak Grove is famous for, was brought out. While dining, the members recounted their take on the first hunt at Chickasaw State Park.  The ladies are ready to go again!

ChickasawState Park is situated on some of the highest terrain in west Tennessee. It is also one of Tennessee’s earliest state parks and is a place of recreation, nature, and classic scenery in an historic environment. Around the turn of the 20th century, longstanding agricultural practices, combined with the hilly terrain, had led to significant erosion problems in this area. Development of the Chickasaw Land Use Area began in 1934 to aid people stranded on poor and eroded land and to create a wildlife reserve and recreational area.

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