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Articles

Longreen Foxhounds Opening Meet


2021/12/05







Notes from the French Horn on the front porch of the mansion in Como, Mississippi heralded the 64th Opening Meet of the Longreen Foxhounds on November 6, 2021. As the music blew across the front lawn of Birdlands, 48 riders and three carriage drivers, each with passengers, prepared for the Blessing of the Hounds. At the Opening Meet, the pack of hounds, the oiled leather of the supple tack, the spotless horses, the polished black boots, and the Episcopal priest in his black and white vestments all summoned nostalgia for past years. The sun’s bright light accentuated the red maples, the red roof of the old house, and the red coats of the staff.

Longreen was joined by thirteen members of the Chula Homa Hunt from Canton, Miss., including their huntsman Petra Kay. She brought 2½ couple (5 hounds) of their cross bred hounds to pack with the three couple (6 hounds) of Longreen’s foxhounds hunting that day. After Reverend Scott Walters of Calvary Episcopal Church in Memphis officiated the Blessing of the Hounds, hounds and riders moved off from the ceremony through the woodlands.

The hounds picked up the faint smells from night lines in the cedar and locust covert along the fence line in the hay pasture. The scent may have come from coyotes who have been killing the resident flock of sheep one by one. The hounds’ trailing around the edges of the sheep paddock was like seeing a map of the coyotes’ previous movements.

Penn-Marydel hounds are renowned for their keen noses and their ability to track on scanty scent. Susan Walker, MFH and huntsman let them move where the trail took them. That meant listening to the voice of a hound who picked up the scent and waiting to see if other hounds could hold the line and work out a solid direction of the game. The pack maintained steady progress past the sheep paddocks, into a dove field where the scent blazed for a hot minute before cooling again.

Susan directed the hounds to Butterball Creek where their voices roared at once when they pushed out some game and rushed to follow it. The hounds emerged from the creek bed and tore over the hills to Twin Lakes. A grey fox leading the hounds was viewed by Ed Apple and Junior Whipper-in Caroline Dulaney. The field galloped behind, beckoned by the exhilarated voices of the hounds until they checked along the lake bank. Oh that exciting feeling when hounds are in full cry!

The hounds cast about the trees to find the new direction the fox had taken. Recovering the trail, the hounds lit off again through the tricky ground along buckeye ridge and then dropped down into the turkey's favorite food plot by the canal. At that point the pack picked up the scent of a coyote and gave chase; then the quarry and pack were viewed by those in carriages north of Twin Lakes barn.

In the 25 years since the riparian strips were planted along the erosion-prone creek bank, the trees have grown tall enough to ride under. Sound is dampened by the pine needles, yet the voices of the hounds ring out clearly. The trenched ground is peppered with an understory of native buckeye, ferns, and some large oaks. The area is full of dens and hiding holes, and that is where the hounds ended our hunt still in full cry. 

Returning to the meet and, after taking care of horses and hounds, the hungry people gathered at the circa 1838 log cabin for their victuals, and for the huntsman to offer gratitude and thanksgiving to the Creator.

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