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Hard Away Whitworth Opening Meet


By Christina White

In keeping with our oldest tradition, Hard Away Whitworth Hunt held its annual Blessing of the Hounds at Paulling Place, home of the Hales Family. [Paulling Place was originally the plantation of William K. Paulling, established in 1836. Ernest Everett Hale came to the area in 1925 as a County Extension Agent. In 1951 he purchased Paulling Place.] Father Hatchett provided the Blessing, accompanied by some rather noisy hounds. The Field looked grand with horses in braided manes and ladies in sidesaddle.

The Huntsman, attracted by the just picked and yet unplowed bean fields, changed his usual pattern and drew on the south side. He was rewarded by Jamie McKemie giving a Tally Ho to a bobcat. Perfect! We put the hounds on the line and they struck immediately! With a brisk 15 mph plus north wind, dry air, and hounds unused to a bobcat, we did not know what to expect. But we had Lapwing, daughter of the famed bobcat hunting fool Lattice, and she showed the way. The cat did the usual twisting and turning and hunkering down, so we had the occasional check. As the Huntsman was casting at one of these checks, Anna Lin gave the Tally Ho on the bobcat, who had doubled back to where we had struck him originally, which happened to be at the opposite end of the covert from where we were. She then announced a coyote was following in its footsteps. Game on and we rolled the dice and got hounds on, hoping they would strike the cat first. Wrong! The music and direction suggested coyote. All Whips were instructed to stop hounds at the boundary so that we did not have the shortest Opening Meet on record. Hounds, however, had the perfect answer to keeping the coyote in bounds, as their baying signaled the end of the run. This proved to be the highlight of the day, as scenting conditions further deteriorated and the winds further picked up.

That evening, Susan and Archie Craft, long-standing members of the hunt, put on a magnificent dinner, with Archie’s beef cooked to perfection and Susan’s three sinful desserts, at their “tornado-improved barn,” (which deserves to be featured on the Home and Garden channel). The Craft’s farm took a direct hit in the April tornadoes that devastated the Tuscaloosa areas. They spent a year, as many people have, picking up the pieces and rebuilding.

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