Longreen Foxhounds Opening Meet
By Tommy Brannon; photos by Nancy Brannon
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Longreen Foxhounds began its 58th formal foxhunting season with the Blessing of the Hounds and Opening Meet, November 14, 2015. This year’s Meet took place at Birdlands Plantation near Como, MS, owned by Jake and Harriet McFadden. This fixture is a hunting preserve that was purchased and restored by Harriet’s grandfather in 1936. The white columned plantation house has all of the charm of the old south, and the preserve consists of several thousand acres of mature hardwood and planted pine forests, interspersed with pastures, open fields, and lakes. The jumps are coops over the barbed wire fences. There is plenty of wildlife!
Seven couple (14) Penn-Marydel Foxhounds, along with 70 horses and riders, as well as four horse drawn carriages, were blessed by the Reverend John Leach, rector of the Episcopal Church of The Holy Apostles in Collierville, Tennessee. St. Hubert medals were placed around the necks of the riders and stirrup cups were past around for a toast to the day of sport. Including riders and spectators, 170 people participated in the Blessing including Allen Mueller, MFH and son of Longreen’s founder, the late Bart Mueller.
Susan Walker, MFH and Huntsman rode her 24-year-old gelding Dunraven. This was Dunraven’s 22nd Opening Meet and Susan’s 48th. Susan roaded the hounds out to the first cast, followed by three fields, the four carriages and three “Tally Ho” hay wagons filled with spectators.
In spite of a chilly previous night, the day turned warm quickly and the sun was out in full force. Scenting was spotty, but the first cast brought out a coyote that was viewed going north of the cast. The coyote turned west and traversed some fields and woods, where it gave the hounds the slip. Susan continued the hunt, working hounds through the coverts for some time, but not finding again.
It was soon “half time,” when riders, carriages and wagons gathered in an open field for refreshment and more photo-taking. This, we were told, has become a regular tradition at Longreen in the past few years. With “half time” over, the hunters resumed the game and several more coverts were drawn, but turned out blank.
At the end of the hunt, all returned to the Birdlands manor house, where a feast was consumed with much reverie.
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