Foxhounds are large (65-70 lbs. – 29-32 kilos.) and powerful animals. They are astonishingly muscular, and a hound pack is fully capable of running for many miles, pulling down, tearing to pieces and devouring its quarry rapidly and on the spot.
Yet, those familiar with hounds often describe the hound temperament as “sweet.” Hounds will eagerly jump up on strangers to lick their faces and be petted, and it is a routine practice as exhibitions to release a pack to be petted and roll around with small children.
Hounds traditionally hunted deer before they hunted foxes. Consequently, the return of the white-tail deer to much of its original range in the Eastern United States in the 1950s and 1960s had a tremendous impact on hunting and hound breeding.
Ben Hardaway, the renowned and colorful Master of Georgia’s Midland Foxhounds, often recounts how, when deer arrived in his territory, he found he could not stop his beloved July-strain American foxhounds from chasing deer, and successfully running them down and eating them.
Hardaway found himself obliged to travel to Britain and Ireland in search of deer-proof strains of foxhounds, and he proceeded to blend appropriate British foxhound strains with American, adding a soupÃ§on of Penn Marydel, to produce what became recognized as a new, very widely used category of foxhound, the Crossbred.
Hardaway’s impact on hound breeding has been so great that he was recently honored by the North American Museum of Hounds and Hunting by admission to its Hall of Fame Huntsman’s Room, an honor rarely conferred on a living sportsman.
It is, therefore, interesting to find that the 30 couple (60) of foxhounds of the Chiddingfield, Leconfield and Cowdray Hunt, whose territory is in Surrey and Sussex, recently adopted a ten-week old fallow deer (Dama dama) fawn, allowing him to accompany the pack on its off-season walks.
Huntsman Adrian Thompson, however, expressed a disinclination to allow the fawn to hunt with his hounds next Autumn. He does not think the young deer would have the stamina to keep up with hounds. (Maybe someone will offer him a ride, and BamBam will be able to car follow.)
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.