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Longreen Foxhounds Opening Meet


By Tommy Brannon, MFH

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On a sunny Saturday, November 2, 2019, Longreen Foxhounds held their 62nd annual Opening Meet and Blessing of the Hounds at Jake and Harriet McFadden’s historic Birdlands Plantation near Como, Mississippi.

The annual event was well attended with 35 adult and eight junior riders. There were also four carriages, with one junior driver, three adult drivers and three lucky carriage passengers. Sixty spectators participated in the ceremonies and observed the hunt from several Tally Ho wagons.

Six couple (12) of Penn-Marydel foxhounds were blessed in a traditional religious ceremony that dates back several hundred years. The Reverend John Leach was scheduled to officiate the blessing, but he and his wife were blessed themselves just a few hours before the hound blessing with a new baby girl. Lee Alexander, who rides with Longreen as a Whipper-in, volunteered to recite the liturgy and prayer. This is the first time any of the foxhunters present had participated in a hound blessing where the officiant was on horseback!

The fall weather was perfect for horse and riders, as the day was sunny and cool, with a bluebird colored sky and temperatures in the mid-50s. It had rained the day before so the turf in the pastures at Birdlands had softened and made excellent footing.

Susan Walker, MFH and Huntsman cast the hounds at 11:00 a.m. and drew coverts to the east of the main house.  Hounds opened and lost several times. At one point the pack was working so diligently in a tight circle in the woods that the First Field and staff rode down in the woods hoping for a view of a bobcat. Several doe came out of the woods south of the draw and in front of the carriages, but the hounds paid them no heed and continued to work north.

Birdlands is heavily populated with dear and in the course of the day not only were many doe sighted, but also a 10-point and a 12-point buck. A coyote was viewed by J.D. Dulaney, who was up from Clarksdale, Mississippi for the day’s activities. However, by the time this information had been relayed to Susan, the coyote had run to an area that Longreen does not hunt. Susan continued to draw in a semicircle east, northeast, and then west.

At the end of the hunt, riders and spectators had a scrumptious meal on the grounds in front of the Birdlands Plantation main house.

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