W3C Ramblings - from
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The mounted hunt

Hounds

Contributed by Stubble Burner

I was born 50 something years ago and 50 yards from where I now live, “darn sarff “(other end of the country from cumbrian-lad in fact!), and I have farmed there all my life. I started shooting at the age of 8 years with a 410 shotgun. I wasn’t allowed to have cartridges and I remember one day turning with the gun which pointed to someone’s back – when I picked myself up off the ground I was sent home! If only people were taught safety that way now.

I spent my formative years shooting and apart from the local Boxing Day meet with the Cowdray Foxhounds didn’t really start hunting until my 30s.

The first day out with the Mink hounds, it was a good day, the weather was nice, company friendly and we killed two mink, to my mind the scourge of the riverbank. I enjoyed myself so much I thought I'd have some more of this.

I started going out with the local Beagle pack and well remember one day we met on a god forsaken part of the South coast – mainly marsh. The landowner said as he didn’t have many hares could we try not to catch any - although we were welcome to hunt them!. The pack I was with was a keen pack, but the Huntsman agreed not to catch any hares if he could avoid it.

The pack found a strong hare which gave a good hunt, it went over the sea wall and swam out to sea, being mobbed by some seagulls, after a while it returned to the shore, looking a bit damp but no worse for its exertion, the landowner’s smile had to be seen to be believed!!!

I have family connections with the West Country and personally prefer stag hunting to any other form of hunting. One day stands out for me, the meet was at Comers Gate for spring stag hunting, and the stag was harboured and after a lot of trouble tufting, was eventually got away, only to head for Barle Where hounds were stopped. In the meantime word came that an injured stag had been sighted.

Hounds were taken to where the stag was last sighted and let go. They found the stag which was not as badly injured as first thought and hunted it for some two hours before bringing it to bay, we returned to the original stag where one or two of the older hounds faithful to their original quarry had carried on hunting it. Eventually this stag was brought to bay in the Barle Valley just as darkness was falling.

This is the only time apart from the last day of legal hunting, when I saw two stags being hunted and brought to bay on the same day.

On another occasion three of us went for the Easter Weekend’s stag hunting. We stayed at a friend’s house on Exmoor, on the road from????? to Simonsbath.

Saturday morning dawned and with it thick fog, we went off to the meet at Molland Moor gate only to find the start had been put back because of the fog. As usual on these occasions the whisky came out and the “craic” was good. Someone introduced us to Graham, from South Devon who was convinced the fog would not clear and there would be no hunting that day and freely partook of the drink. He was keeping us well amused with his unlikely stories

By 12.30 he was well away and the fog was showing on signs of lifting.

Sure enough at 12.45 it lifted and hounds were called, by now Graham was decidedly wobbly but assured us he would be ok to ride, if we would help him with his horse.

We got it out of the trailer for him but he insisted on tying it to the trailer himself. To cut a long story short, he took the head collar off before putting on the bridle. The horse (a bloody great grey thing) decided it was hungry and began to eat the grass. Graham got quite upset at this and started shouting and jumping up and down! The horse thought “bugger this,” or the equestrian equivalent and legged it. Graham by now well pissed started swearing at us shouting, “You B******s, go and catch my horse,” and he began to run … the wrong way as it happens. He bounced off his trailer and fell over landing in a puddle. We of course cracked up, and couldn’t pursue the horse for laughing.

He regained his feet muttering obscenities aimed at us and ran off dripping with mud and shouting, "Loose horse, loose horse.” Eventually someone caught his horse and returned it to him. We helped him mount and then went hunting.

By 4pm the fog had returned, ending the day, and so we adjourned to the pub. Graham had beaten us and as we walked in he was in the middle of telling his wife how the horse had stumbled in a gutter and put him off which was how he came to be so covered in mud! As he was buying the beer we didn’t enlighten her!

One day with the Beagles, a very wet one, on the marsh I watched a hunted hare run a bank for approx 400 yards. A herd of about 20 bullocks saw her go and followed a right rodeo! Hounds were two or three minutes behind. With no help at all, hounds worked out the line through the bullocks, which by now had calmed down and moved off the line of the hare that was by now some twenty minutes ahead.

They took her right out to the marsh where due to failing light they were stopped. As pretty a piece of hunting as I have seen in a long time.

A day I would rather forget, is my first day with the Exmoor Foxhounds. Needing to answer the call of nature, I looked around and spotted an out of the way gateway, and unzipped my trousers; imagine my thoughts when on hearing a noise I turned round only to find the entire field led by Captain Ronnie waiting for me to open the gate for them - didn’t get my shilling either!!

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