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Hillsboro Hounds Opening Hunt – “Catch of the Day”


by Sherry Paige
TheHillsboro Hounds 80th Opening Hunt day dawned as quintessential as its October 27th date: cool, damp and cloudy with a bevy of autumn leaves underfoot. Sixty-plus riders with horses arrived at the Happy Hill Farm Pavilion, near Cornersville, TN, by Saturday noon, in true formal hunt attire with horses clipped, clean, and braided. Final preparations had already transformed the Pavilion itself into a celebration of horse, hound, and hunt staff the day before, as a band of avid members helped complete the vision of its decor. The exhilarating scent of Opening Hunt was definitely in the air!    

Friends of the hunt arrived in time to enjoy a bit of stirrup cup as the field gathered for the 2:00 pm Blessing of the Hounds, delivered by Officiant Dr. Stuart Gordon from First Presbyterian Church of Nashville, TN. Joint Masters, Henry Hooker, Orrin Ingram, and Hill McAllister were on hand, welcoming all who gathered to add their voice to the blessing. With the final amen, able huntsman John Gray, surrounded by twenty-three and a half couple of cross-bred hounds, cast hounds and away they went!

Through the northern most end of Hillsboro country, this fixture with great vistas for viewing, had one of the largest ‘car hunt’ groups ever to follow after hounds and three mounted flights.  Despite increasing winds, hounds struck early and ran a line across a hillside peppered with cover down into a ravine and back up; and by the end of the day, held successful lines on two coyotes and one bobcat!

But the catch of the day goes to Chris Hart, who pulled an engagement ring from his pocket in the late afternoon - and with his eye on Eileen Campbell, granddaughter of MFH Henry and Alice Hooker, finished the chase in grand style! A marriage proposal was accepted! As the band of the evening, Soul Incision, added their soulful sounds to the spirited gathering, all agreed – a most happy end to an already great opening day!

Many thanks to photographer William Kenner for the photos.

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