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Tennessee Hunt Week


By Gretchen Pelham

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During the first week of December 2014 several of the registered foxhound packs in Tennessee met for four days of foxhunting. The hunt week was hosted and organized by the Cedar Knob Hounds MFH and huntsman, Albert Menefee III, with help from the Hillsboro Hounds MFH Orrin Ingram and MFH Hill McCallister.  Two of the visiting packs, Longreen Foxhounds and Tennessee Valley Hunt, brought their Penn-Marydel hounds to hunt with the Penn-Marydels of Cedar Knob and crossbred hounds of Hillsboro. Mell’s Fox Hounds brought its members and staff. 

Thursday – two Penn-Marydel packs combined
On the first day, Thursday December 4, Susan Walker, MFH and huntsman of Longreen, hunted the pack with Ryan Johnsey, professional huntsman of Tennessee Valley, and Albert.  They hunted a combined pack of twenty and a half couple of Penn-Marydels from Longreen and Tennessee Valley with Johnny Gray, professional huntsman of Hillsboro, acting as a much valuable whipper-in. The morning meet was at the Menefee’s Foxview fixture.  It was a beautiful, quiet day without much scent. 

Friday – three Penn-Marydel packs combined
The scent returned for the afternoon meet held at Marianne Byrd’s barn on Friday December 5.  Ryan Johnsey hunted the twenty-three and a half pack of Penn-Marydels from all three packs: Tennessee Valley, Longreen and Cedar Knob. The pack hit hard on a coyote.  The run was fast and hard over fields, hills and a wide, shallow creek that lasted about 45 minutes without another check. 

Grosvenor Merle-Smith, MFH to Tennessee Valley Hunt, was road whipping on Hart Leonard Road and got a great view.  He could hear the pack roaring towards the road, but he couldn’t see because of a thick hedge lined the roadway.  He leaned back against the hedge to wait for a view when the coyote jumped the hedge, right over his head! He could have reached out and touched its belly as it flew overhead.  Later, the coyote was viewed coming out of a covert behind a herd of deer and was soon afterwards accounted for by the pack in a muddy creek.

Saturday – Hillsboro Hounds crossbred pack
The third day, December 6, was an overcast, very damp morning at Emily and Hill McCallister’s Time Out Farm. Johnny Gray took out twenty and a half couple of his English and crossbred hounds from the lawn meet. The pack quickly found a coyote and in a low trail just below Hill’s impressive barn the coyote was accounted for.  It was a quick result, less than an hour had passed since the hunt began. 

Sunday – all four packs combined
The last morning on the fourth day, December 7, promised to be a legendary day with 59 hounds from all four hunts, Penn-Marydel and crossbred alike, all thrown into one pack.  The meet was again at the Menefee’s Foxview fixture where the first day held such a quiet hunt.  Quiet was not the word to describe this last day!  Albert carried the horn for this massive pack, with the other three huntsmen riding with him. 

The hounds worked on a coyote for almost an hour without a check until three more coyotes were flushed out of the top of another ridge.  The massive pack had split into four groups, with each group containing hounds from all four hunts.  Here is where the day turned into a scavenger’s hunt, with each huntsmen looking for his hounds scattered in all the corners of the two counties covering the entire hunt country. Staff was sent out in all directions, some hitching rides in passing trucks, to collect the hounds a few couple at a time.

This was the first time that all these packs had come together for a joint meet.  It was also the first time for some of the packs to be hunted jointly with hounds from other hunts.  Remarkably, all in all the week was a resounding success on all points.  The Menefees of Cedar Knob did a phenomenal job of organizing and orchestrating such a busy schedule of hunting.  It was repeated often by many participants that this week of hunting the packs from Tennessee all together should be repeated again. 

About photographer Brenda Black: Brenda Black has a tremendous love of all animals. She showed hunter jumpers and fox hunted for many years. She has also competed with her Welsh Corgis and Australian Shepherds in sheep herding and agility. Photography is a new found interest and Brenda has been photographing her pets, fox hunts, shooting sports and anything that aligns with her love of outdoors, family and friends. Brenda resides in Nashville, TN with her Aussie Huck and kitty Ethyl.

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