Category Archive 'Field Sports'
02 Nov 2016

T.H. White, “The Black Rabbit”

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T.H. White, 1906-1964

A nice bit of reading for hunting season, here.

Hat tip to Steve Bodio. (I read it first in his Anthology.)

05 Jun 2016

Hunt Saboteur to Master of Hounds

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The Yorkshire Post describes Miles Cooper’s conversion from Hunt Saboteur and League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) activist to Field Sports participant and finally Master of Hounds.

I know it would be more interesting to say I had a road to Damascus moment, but there were no blinding lights. It was much more of a gradual process. I was living in a market town in Oxfordshire and I came to know many of the farmers who lived there. I guess the more I talked to them, the more I began to question the anti-hunt stance. I spoke to sheep farmers who explained that hunts were a viable way of managing the fox population, that they were more humane than snaring and shooting. These weren’t people trying to twist my mind. They were people who had the countryside and its best interests in their blood. They were simply explaining their point of view and given their wealth of experience it was right for me to listen, to think and to challenge my own views.”

By the time a hunting ban became a serious prospect, Miles had decided that it wasn’t something that he could support. In April 2002, 13 years after going on his first protest he came out publicly as pro-hunting. “I suppose I could have gone quietly, but I decided that I should be open and honest, especially since I’d been so publically critical of hunting in the past so a press conference was organised at Westminster. Of course I had reservations and what I had to say went down like a lead balloon with former colleagues, but I’ve never had any regrets about doing it.” …

Over the intervening years Miles’s pro-hunting stance strengthened. So much so, he learned to ride and went out on his first hunt with the Warwickshire Hunt. He also breeds and works ferrets, shoots and hunts with his local pack of beagles.

“It felt a little surreal to begin with, but for me it was a natural next step,” he says by way of explanation. “Everything I have seen being part of the hunting world has only confirmed that the Government got it wrong and the current legislation isn’t fit for purpose. Take hares for instance: the law says it’s wrong to hunt a healthy hare but okay to hunt one which has been wounded first. It’s ridiculous, a nonsense and just downright perverse.”

Miles moved to Yorkshire for work – he’s a manager at York’s Askham Bryan College, the largest land-based college in England – but it’s also here where his conversion from hunt sab to hunt master was complete.

“A colleague showed me an advert in Countryman’s Weekly magazine which said that a new pack of bloodhounds was being set up in Yorkshire and that anyone interested in helping should get in contact. Not many people get to contribute to starting a hunt from scratch, so I thought what have I got to lose? The answer to that was all my spare time and some of my hair, but I’ve loved it.”

Miles admits that when he sees pictures of himself hunting, whether that be with the bloodhounds or out beagling, he occasionally has to do a double take, but he says he hopes his experience might help dent the long-lived stereotypes.

“Hunting isn’t a sport just for toffs. We are not a bunch of lords. Most people join a hunt because they love riding and sacrifice most other things in their life to pay for the upkeep of their horse. There is a real cross section of society in any hunt that you don’t get in a lot of places. I can tell you from first-hand experience that you don’t get wealthy being a hunt master. In fact, you just get older, greyer and poorer a whole lot quicker, but by God I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Read the whole thing.

All this goes to show that some people are capable of growth and education.

18 Mar 2016


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'Unlike Anything I've Ever Seen': Mike Rowe Describes His Wild…

"Unlike anything I've ever seen": Mike Rowe describes his wild night with rat-hunting dogs in NYC.

Posted by TheBlaze on Friday, March 18, 2016

12 Oct 2015

Juan José Arreola on Falconry

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“He pasado mi vida entre las nubes y amo todavía las criaturas que se defienden y huyen. (Guardo en la memoria el fantasma de una paloma inalcanzable que palpita para mí.) Hacia ella sigo volando, cada vez con menos brío. De noche, cavilo entre la rapiña y la ternura en un paisaje de rocas vacías.”

“I have spent my life in the clouds and still love the creatures who defend themselves and flee. (I keep in memory the ghost of an unattainable dove that beats for me.) To keep it flying, each time with less verve. At night, I brood between the violence and tenderness in a landscape of empty rocks.”

—Juan José Arreola, “De cetrería” [On Falconry], en Bestiario [Bestiary], Joaquín Mortiz, México, 1972, p. 57.

14 Nov 2013

Wolver Beagles Celebrate Centennial

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The Wolver Beagles competing in the Beagle Pack Trials at the Institute Farm in Aldie, Virginia, November, 2010. (Photo: Karen L. Myers)

The Wolver Beagles celebrated their hundred anniversary of operation as an organized hunting pack this fall. By my count, Wolver is the fifth oldest beagle pack in the United States, preceded only by the Waldingfield Beagles (founded 1885), the Somerset Beagles (founded 1888, disbanded 1922), the Sir Sister Beagles (founded 1897), and Richard Gambrill’s Vernon Somerset Beagles (founded 1912, disbanded 1953). Only two older beagle packs still survive, and Wolver can additionally boast a more continuous operation under fewer masters than any other beagle pack in America.

Wolver’s colors, displayed on the collar, are buff with light blue piping. Wolver is a private pack, operating out of Middleburg, Virginia and hunting only bitch hounds. Wolver is recognized everywhere as a crack pack, performing typically at a superior level and winning far more than its share of competitions.

Barbara Riggs produced an article on Wolver’s history appearing this week in the Chronicle of the Horse.

18 Dec 2012

Falconry Season in Qatar

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In Qatar, you can buy falcons at a shop in the mall.

Condé Nast Traveller has an interesting photo essay illustrating the centrality of the sport of falconry to Arab culture in Qatar.

In the US, falconry is so buried under a preposterous and massively burdensome regulatory regime that only an infinitesimally small community of total fanatics can participate. (There are something like 4000 licensed falconers out of an American population of 300 million.) In the United States, you can go right out there and buy a horse any time you like and take him home, but not a falcon. Unlike horses, you see, raptors are sacred and they all really belong to our federal government and various international conservancy committees. You must have special permission at both the state and federal level to borrow one of their birds. You are required to take a federal exam, sign up for a multi-year apprenticeship under a licensed falconer, and open your home to federal inspection to even possess your first hawk, and your choice of falcon is restricted to only 2 (in some regions, 3) species until you achieve a more advanced license level.

Can you imagine a dog ownership regime that would require federal licensing and then would allow you only to own a chihuahua or a Golden Retriever until you had been a licensed dog for two years? Then you become a “general dog owner” and can own two dogs at the same time, including such more interesting breeds as poodles, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds. You would need to be licensed for five years before you could be a “master dog owner” and own three dogs at the same time or be permitted to possess the more exotic and desirable salukis, borzois, and Akitas.

It’s different in Arab countries, where falconry is a far more prominent and mainstream sporting activity.

Hat tip to Sari Mantila.

06 Dec 2012

Hunting Catching on among the Hipster Set

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Slate reports on an unusual and highly ironic development among the fashionista set.

[T]he evolution of the new lefty urban hunter goes something like this:

    2006: Reads Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, about the ickyness of the industrial food complex. Starts shopping at a farmer’s market.
    2008: Puts in own vegetable garden. Tries to go vegetarian but falls off the wagon.
    2009: Decides to only eat “happy meat” that has been treated humanely.
    2010: Gets a chicken coop and a flock of chickens.
    2011: Dabbles in backyard butchery of chickens. Reads that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg decided to only eat meat he killed himself for a year.
    2012: Gets a hunting permit, thinking “how hard can it be? I already totally dominate Big Buck Hunter at the bar.”

Hunting is undeniably in vogue among the bearded, bicycle-riding, locavore set. The new trend might even be partly behind a recent 9 percent increase from 2006 to 2011 in the number of hunters in the United States after years of decline. Many of these new hunters are taking up the activity for ethical and environmental reasons.

“It feels more responsible and ecologically sound to eat an animal that was raised wild and natural in my local habitat than to eat a cow that was fattened up on grain or even hay, which is inevitably harvested with fuel-hungry machines,” writes Christie Aschwanden, a self-described “tree-hugging former vegetarian.”

A recent spate of books with titles like The Mindful Carnivore and Call of the Mild chronicles the exploits of these first-time hunters as they wrestle with their consciences and learn to sight in their rifles.

NYM blogged about Michael Pollan’s encounter with a California wild pig back in 2006.

We are going to have to read an avalanche-load of omphallic ethicizing and isn’t-it-wonderful-that-I’m-the-first-civilized-human-to-master-the-skills-of-my-primitive-Republican-neighbors accounts, but all this is still doubtless going to turn into a positive development. Hunting puts man in direct touch with Nature and allows him to enter personally into its processes. Hunting fulfills a deeply-embedded portion of our human nature, and the activity and experience of hunting inevitably makes us healthier, mentally as well as physically.

Perhaps, Nature has actually come up with a way to seduce residents of the urban community of decadence and mental disorder back into health. One pictures the metrosexual gradually turning from reading Rolling Stone and Mother Jones to picking up Garden & Gun and Double Gun Journal.

30 Nov 2012

Blessing of Hounds and St. Hubert Mass For Brittany Boar Hunt

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The hunt is the Vautrait Piqu’Avant Bretagne, founded 2009, which hunts the wild boar in the forests of Brittany with a pack comprised of 35 couple of Anglo-French tricolor and black-and-tan foxhounds. The Hubert Mass and hounds blessing was conducted at the 13th century Gothic Basilica of Notre-Dame de La Guerche-de-Bretagne.

The French wear considerably more elaborate hunt uniforms than we do, and they accompany their hunting activities with the most splendid horn fanfares.

The ceremonies recorded in the videos took place November 10. St. Hubert‘s feast day is November 3rd. The ceremonies were probably the preliminaries to the hunt’s formal opening meet.

Saint Hubert du Vautrait Piqu' Avant Bretagne 10… by dm_50a761ee26328

bénédiction de la meute au rendez vous – La… by dm_50a761ee26328

Saint Hubert du Vautrait Piqu' Avant Bretagne en… by dm_50a761ee26328

23 Aug 2012

Shooting An Elephant

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An elephant hunting video in which the professional hunter very competently stops an unexpected charge. I’d call that a pretty good moment of excitement. It would be nice to know in what country they were hunting, what caliber rifle (probably a .458) that professional was carrying, but they never properly annotate these.

And, yes, Virginia, there are a number of African countries in which elephants can legally be hunted, in which elephant numbers are excessive, elephant populations are rising, and in which elephants create serious problems by coming into conflict with human beings. Trophy fees for elephants are extremely high, and the monies raised fund the conservation departments which control poaching.

Poor jumbo did bite the dust but, before shedding big salty tears, do take note that in the seconds prior to his demise he was advancing purposefully on the humans in the video with lethal intent. The elephant initiated hostilities against people who had every bit as much right to be walking in that African bush as he did.

Shooting a charging elephant at close range is an experience most of us will never have. In many cases, I expect just as well, because not everybody could shoot as fast and as straight as that professional hunter.

09 Aug 2012

California: Enviro-Left Ousts Fish & Game President For Going Hunting

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Western Outdoor News: COMMISSION PRESIDENT CELEBRATES A SUCCESSFUL HUNT – California Fish and Game commissioner Dan W. Richards travelled deep into the wicked terrain of Idaho’s Flying B Ranch to fulfill a long-held goal. “It was the most physically exhausting hunt of my lifetime. Eight hours of cold weather hiking in very difficult terrain. I told the guides I appreciated the hard work. They were unbelievably professional, first class all the way,” he said. Richards said he took the big cat over iron sights using a Winchester Centennial lever action .45 carbine. Asked about California’s mountain lion moratorium, Richards didn’t hesitate. “I’m glad it’s legal in Idaho.”

The LA Times reports that the president of the California Fish and Game Commission has been successfully hounded out of office by the usual West Coast crowd of left-wing extremists for the outrage of legally taking a trophy mountain lion on a hunt in Idaho. Residents of California have been regularly stalked, occasionally mauled, and even killed and eaten by mountain lions in unprecedented numbers of incidents since hunting lions in the Golden State was banned by whacko-supported initiative in 1990.

(Mountain Lion encounters & attacks data)

The California Fish and Game Commission was created a century ago (1909) by sportsmen to manage and regulate the state’s wildlife resources. Its operations and programs are funded by license fees and taxes on sporting goods paid exclusively by hunters and fishermen.

But, in California today, the tyranny of the fruits-and-nuts supporters of the democrat party is so far-reaching, their intolerance and bigotry concerning other people’s lifestyles and convictions so great, that the president of the state Fish and Game Commission has been hounded out office by a six-month-long campaign of vilification based on his being guilty of legally hunting!

Daniel W. Richards was replaced as president of the California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday, seven months after he sparked a storm of controversy by killing a mountain lion during a hunt in Idaho.

Although the kill was legal in Idaho, California has outlawed the hunting of mountain lions for decades. More than 40 state legislators called for Richards to resign in March, saying he showed poor judgment in killing the cougar when the practice is opposed by most Californians.

At the time, Richards defiantly refused to resign from the commission, saying he had done nothing improper. Even though the commission voted to elect Commissioner Jim Kellogg as president Wednesday, Richards plans to remain on the commission until his term expires in January. …

[Michael] Sutton, an executive with the Audubon Society [who was at the same time elected Vice President of the Fish and Game Commission], said later that the killing of the lion and Richards’ comments defending it were factors in his decision to vote to replace Richards.

“It was pretty clear that Commissioner Richards had lost the confidence of the majority of the commission,” Sutton said. “Most of us feel it is inappropriate to use the presidency as a bully pulpit for your views.”

The president of the State Fish & Game Commission is supposed, in California, to be out of line when he uses his office to speak in favor of hunting.

The presidency and control of the commission will be passing out of the hands of the sportsmen who pay for it and into the hands of Environmentalist granola-crunching ideologues eager to implement new policies based on junk science, Animal Rights theories, and hostility to firearms and the field sports.


The LA Weekly describes the politics of the situation:

[A]lthough Fish and Game commissioners haven’t explained specifically why they decided to vote Richards down from his throne today, it was clearly a symbolic move to kill the human who killed the beast.

“The president of the commission should be someone who has the confidence of a majority of his peers,” Mike Sutton, vice president, told the Mercury News leading up to the vote.

Richards was playing the feisty right-wing ideologue at the beginning of this battle, but he has since became strangely resigned to his ousting.

He looked on as the commission changed its own internal election policy in May so that they might replace Richards. And today, a Fish and Game Commission spokesman tells us that Richards himself took part in the unanimous vote to elect Commissioner Jim Kellogg as his replacement.

The ex-prez, appointed by Arnold Schwarzenegger (surprise, surprise) in 2008, will remain on the commission until his term ends in six months. But from there, he tells the Mercury News: “I think there is a zero chance that Jerry Brown will appoint me, so it doesn’t matter what I think. He has his hands full with shoplifters and other thugs in the Legislature.”

Pretty morbid, right? Let this be a lesson for all trigger-happy Republicans who dare to dream of swimming against California’s blue tide: We’ll eat your grin for dinner.

13 May 2012

Kazakh Tazys

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From Steve Bodio, a photo essay on hunting foxes with the Kazakh Tazy (or Tazi or тазы), the local version of the saluki or Persian greyhound, a hunting dog which pursues its quarry by sight.

The tazy is regarded as a Kazakh national symbol. This essay tells us that there was an old Kazakh saying that one tazy could feed an entire village. Tazy are described as capable of running down prey at speeds up to 80 kph (49.7 mph).

According to the Russian text, there are only 300 thoroughbred Kazakh tazy left: “300 Spartans.” I’m afraid that I don’t buy into that “only 300 left” stuff. Steve Bodio and I both own Kazakh tazy.

Our Uhlan looks a lot like those “thoroughbred Spartan Kazakh” dogs to me.

25 Feb 2012

At the Recent National Open Field Coursing Association’s Grand Course

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Swift greyhounds are closing on the jackrabbit.

(photos by: Herb Wells — click on images for larger picture)

When he reverses course and dashes back right through their legs!

19 Dec 2011

A Xmas Present from a Cumbrian Lad

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Shepherds Meet, Mardale 1921

A nice Xmas present for sportsmen from Ron Black: his “The Mardale Hunt: A History,” a 166-page downloadable electronic text of the history of the oldest, and most famous, of the Lakeland Fell Shepherds’ Meets. This is the kind of simple, hard-bitten North Country hunting associated with John Peel: foot-following foxhounds on the often pretty vertical landscape of the Lakeland Fells.

Hunting in Mardale is a fundamental and immemorial feature of the season.

[T]he shepherds’ meeting at Mardale ” wasn’t founded in’t memory of man.” That the shepherds gave up a week to ‘ raking ‘ the fells and bringing down to the Dun Bull the sheep that were not their own. That though there is a Shepherds’ Guide with all the lug-marks and smit marks of the various flocks in it, it is very seldom referred to, for all the shepherds ken the marks as well as they ken their own bairns. From the time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary, a hunt succeeded by a good dinner ushers in the shepherds’ ceremony of ‘ swortn ‘ the sheep; and after the sorting a hound trail and pigeon shooting at clay pigeons affords diversion till daylight fades; then tea is served and the shepherds who determine ‘to remain on spree,’ as they call it, instead of driving their sheep home, make a night of it. I gathered from the old farmers that they thought ‘ nowt ‘ to the hound-trail and pigeon shooting. They wur new-fanglements and mud varra weel be dispensed wid.’

By the early years of the last century, the fame of the Mardale Shepherds Meet had spread and visiting sportsman often attended and participated.

For years the Mardale Meet’s popularity relied on the reputation of Joe Bowman (Hunty or Auld Joe) and his Ullswater Foxhounds. Visitors travelled to the meet from all parts of the country and some the world, they travelled in a variety of ways-“Rolls-Royces, carriages, horseback and on foot walking over the high mountain passes sometimes in bad weather (snow was not uncommon) and my Great Uncle Brait and Trimmer his hound actually got lost on the tops in bad weather. Trimmer subsequently won his trail. Expensive furs, kid gloves and silver mounted walking sticks mingled at the meet with woollen clothing, hand made walking sticks and fustian jackets. Most people walked and the general view was summed up by Tommy Fishwick who was once heard to say to a friend “Yan wants nowt wi’ riding as lang as yan legs ‘ell carry yan.”

Hinchcliffe quotes that after a good days sport, huntsmen, shepherds, visitors, sheep dogs and terriers (hounds were not admitted) all turn towards the Dun Bull for a meal.

In the evening, a smoking contest took place. Skelton records “ the main portion of the pack, cast off in the large dining room and every room in the house filled with overflow meetings-or rather concerts”

The big room was the focal point, a tray was sent round and money subscribed for the evening’s refreshment. Each individual orders his choice of drink and the chairman pays out of the general pool. Toast’s and song follow in quick succession. The chairman selects the singer and everyone is supposed to sing at least one song and there was an element of pride in singing one that had not already been sung that evening. If the song had a good swing or chorus the men got particularly enthusiastic, the shepherds beating the tables with their sticks in time to the tune and the sheep-dogs and terriers howling either in enthusiasm or execration, no man knows which.

One song often sung paid tribute to the renowned local huntsman.


Down at Howtown we met with Joe Bowman at dawn,
The grey hills echoed back the glad sound of his horn,
And the charm of it’s note sent the mist far away
And the fox to his lair at the dawn of the day.

When the fire’s on the hearth and good cheer abounds
We’ll drink to Joe Bowman and his Ullswater hounds,
For we’ll never forget how he woke us at dawn
With the crack of his whip and the sound of his horn.

Then with steps that were light and with hearts that were gay
To a right smickle spot we all hasten away,
The voice of Joe Bowman, how it rings like a bell
As he cast off his hounds by the side of Swarth Fell.

The shout of the hunters it startled the stag
As the fox came to view on the lofty Brook crag,
“Tally-Ho” cried Joe Bowman, “the hounds are away,
O’er the hills let us follow their musical bay”.

Master Reynard was anxious his brush for to keep,
So he followed the wind oe’r the high mountain steep,

Past the deep silent tarn to the bright running beck,
Where he hoped by his cunning to give us a check.

Though he took us oe’r Kidsey we held to his track,
For we hunted my lads with the Ullswater Pack
Who caught the fox and effected a kill,
By the silvery stream of the bonny Ramps Gill.

Now his head’s on the crook and the bowl is below,
And we‘re gathered around by the fire’s warming glow,
Our songs they are merry, our choruses high,
As we drink to the hunters who joined in the cry.

When this song is sung at Ullswater, the third verse should be given as follows:

The shout of the hunters it startled the stag,
As the fox came to view on the lofty Brook Crag,
“Tally-Ho” We’re away, o’er the rise and the fell,
Joe Bowman, Kit Farrar, Will Milcrest and all.

14 Nov 2011

La Chasse Renversé

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Harry B. Nielson, Mr. Fox’s Hunt Breakfast on Christmas Day, chromolithograph print published in Vanity Fair, Christmas, 1897

The hunter characteristically admires, and even identifies with, his quarry, and that sense of identification commonly leads to the visualization in the hunter’s imagination of the animal object of the chase as a fellow sportsman, participating in the hunt with equal pleasure and enthusiasm and equal relish of tradition.

The fantasy of the quarry-sportsman gives rise to one of the most popular and best-loved genres of sporting art, images of La Chasse Renversé, the roles of hunters and hunted reversed. No foxhunter’s den is completely furnished without a humorous print like A.C. Havell’s Foxhunter’s Dream or the beloved Mr. Fox’s Hunt Breakfast (above).

The same comedic effect, and the same sportsman’s pleasure in thinking of his adversary in the field as fellow sportsman, can be found in shooting prints, like the very well-known contemporary print by Alexander Charles-Jones “Cocks Only,” which gleefully depicts a line of Ringnecked Pheasants in hunting vests, smoking cigars and drinking while peppering a discomfited group of incoming naked men.

Another classic example of the same humorous genre by Snaffles, published in Hoghunter’s Annual in the 1930s, depicts a couple of senior ranking boars smoking cigars and admiring trophy mounts of British officers acquired in the hunting field.

I had assumed, without any special investigation or thought on the matter, that this genre of sporting humor was specifically British and Victorian, but I was decidedly wrong.

What I have referred to as La Chasse Renversé is, at least, a common medieval artistic humorous subject, found in all sorts of forms and expressions, in paintings, sculpture, manuscript illuminations, and even tiles, representing a variation of all kinds of humorous reversals referred to in general as Le Monde Renversé. I feel sure, at this point, that a thorough search would produce similar examples of sporting facetiae from Classical Antiquity.

Some excellent examples of the hare turning the tables on the hunter were posted at Archivalia.

The Hunter’s Doom,” marginal illumination to The Romance of Alexander by Jehan de Grise and his atelier, 1338-44, Bodleiana Ms. 264, fol. 81v

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