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Fourth Bluff And Oak Grove Mark Merger At Blessing Nov 15 by Tom Burriss The annual blessing of the hounds is one that has lasted for well +over 40 years in the Oak Grove Fox Hunting Club and once again kicked off the hunting season at Cedar Hawk Farms in Collierville, Tenn. on November 15. Although adhering to tradition, there was much excitement over this particular hunt. This would mark the first hunt in which Oak Grove and Fourth Bluff hunt clubs would be merged as one. The reasons are numerous, but in large part because Neil Taylor, Master Huntsman for Oak Grove, is retiring. "It is a really big job," says Jack Bowman, MFH, with Oak Grove. "He manages the breeding, feeding, vetting, and training of the hounds. It takes a lot of time." And energy. Dickie Watson has been elected to fill that position, as he holds the same office with Fourth Bluff Hunt Club. Hence the merging of the two hunt clubs. "There are many who hold dual memberships and hunt both clubs," says Bowman. The clubs have combined resources, hounds and memberships to form the singular Fourth Bluff-Oak Grove hunt club. The hunt held this year "was just great fun," said Master Huntsman Dickie Watson. In all 55 hunters attend this year's blessing and hunt. There were also four hay wagons full of spectators following the action. "We generally hold a number of preseason hunts. This is a really big event when we hold the blessing of the hounds," said Watson. "It is the event that kicks off our hunting season." Three "views" were reported, "the greatest satisfaction for a hunter," remarks Bowman. Typically they will see either coyotes or foxes. Late in the morning the rain began to fall, but that would not be the end of the festivities, merely the signal for an early start to the hunt breakfast. The Fourth Bluff-Oak Grove clubs hunt almost every Saturday morning in varying territories from early October until mid-March. For more information about Fourth Bluff-Oak Grove hunt club call 901-754-1682 or 901-292-3302.

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