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TVH Starts 25th Season With New Huntsman


By Tommy Brannon

Ryan Johnsey, the new huntsman for Tennessee Valley Hunt (TVH), was just three years old when TVH held their first opening meet, but he was old enough to know about fox hunting even then. Ryan grew up in Northern Virginia as part of a fox hunting family. His mentor was Nancy Dillon, who coached him on his pony as they rode together with the Piedmont Fox Hounds. 

His family later moved to southwest Virginia, and at age 18, he went back to Leesburg to whip-in for seven seasons with the Loudoun Hunt. When Noel Ryan, longtime huntsman for Loudoun, decided to retire and move to Florida, the Masters at Loudoun decided to give Ryan a chance at the job. He proved himself well!.

This year Loudoun Hunt merged with Fairfax Hunt and a game of “musical saddles” ensued when the new Loudoun Fairfax Hunt in Virginia chose Martyn Blackmore from Loudoun West Hunt as their new Huntsman. Andy Bozdan, Huntsman for TVH, went to Loudoun West. So TVH seized the opportunity to lap up Ryan Johnsey as their Huntsman.

Ryan says he loves hunting in East Tennessee, but that it has been big learning curve. The packs he hunted previously were cross bread and American hounds, and this is his first Penn-Mayrdel pack. “These hounds are different,” he said “In the kennel they are more coy. You have to sell an idea to them. If you fuss at them, they will shut down. Everyone admires their voice! In this hunt country, the sound reverberates off the hills. You can still hear them on the other side of the ridge! And they are excellent cold trailers. I have had to learn to sit back and let them figure out a line that I would have given up on with other hounds. I can’t say that I prefer one breed of hound over another, but in this hilly country, I would not want anything faster. That would be too hard on the horses.”

Ryan hunts the TVH pack two or three times a week in several fixtures around the Knoxville metro area.

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