Flower’s First Hunt…..
Sunday, November 23, 2014, hounds met at Cherry Hill at 9 AM.
Overcast, chilly but not cold, the ground was dry but a hint of moisture played in the air. You could feel a front coming in. The question for hounds and I, would it come soon enough?
Ten couple rolled down the farm road, poked around in the tobacco sheds, kept going. Allie veered into the pasture behind the second tobacco barn and a few hounds accompanied her. Others stayed to the left of the road. Lots of feathering but no opening.
Down at the creek, the black coop to one’s right, the pack bounded across the creek and worked with more interest. Piper opened, then Allie opened and Orchid jumped in but remained quiet. Within minutes the pack crossed through the creek to the south side and kept working. The bank rises, is steep, there’s but one path up. Becky Birnbaum rode up to the crest and moved along while Maria Johnson pushed ahead of the creek path. Hounds worked up, came back and kept on for a half hour, moving ever eastwards. Allie almost ran out of the territory but she returned to the horn. There’s thick mountain laurel at the tight end of the creek before climbing the hill and everyone nosed around in there. A den, at the base of a tree, attracted attention but no action.
Finally, we rode to the top of the hill, could see Variety Mills Road. Pack together again, although Allie was lagging. We rode along the woods’ path at the edge of the big meadow, down we returned to the creek.
A light wind presented no problem but the dried leaves and hard ground made scenting difficult. I hunted back the way I came, I rarely do that, but I thought hounds and I might pick up a fox in the pasture where Allie nosed about. Tried the edge of that, by the creek. Nothing, up we went to the lovely top of that chunk of land, made a circle, came down by the coop, steep, and drew the feeder creek. There’s a den there and I hoped that nice red had taken a stroll. Hounds raced ahead. Well, this went on and on with the same result, a bit of boo hoo but no real music or run. And we did pick up some of the red’s scent in the woods behind Miss Henderson’s sheds.
Trolling the pasture, all at once the pack exploded. Joyous music. My back was turned as hounds circled behind me, came in front of me, ran back and the music filled the air. People started yelling. Priscilla Friedberg led First Flight. Just as I trotted up, hounds coming straight for me, I spied a large black animal. We have black foxes at Cherry Hill, a moment of hope surged. “Was a black fox visiting our red fox a bit early?” Hounds bellowed then shut up. Not a peep.
The quarry, a skunk, large enough to be a cocker spaniel, fired. The lead hounds rolled on the ground, eyes stinging and a wall of fragrance wafted over the pasture. The skunk, not at all worried, ambled to the red fox den and popped in. If the fox minded, he or she had sense enough to be a genial host.
The tail hounds came up and backed off. However, Mocha, a first year entry, knew her job was to dig. In she went, butt up in the air, tail wagging. Not a good place to be. Had I gotten off to grab her stern and pull her out, we’d both receive another blast and worse, the pack would come to me.
So, I did the sensible thing, I blew the four distinct notes and sure enough, the first whipper-in to appear was Maria. I made her do it while I led off the pack. Fortunately, she didn’t have to dismount as Mocha listened to her and did notice, once she stuck her head out of the den, that the long end of a thong dangled near, too near.
Had Maria wished to take revenge, she could have hugged me once were back at the trailers. She restrained herself but both of us wore a light dash of eau de peu.
Kept hunting, but the poor hounds could only smell those skunked the worst.
While this was not our best hunt, it certainly will go down as an unforgettable one.
At the tailgate, Miss Henderson on her ATV, we all toasted the skunk which Amy Burke dubbed Flower, for the skunk in “Bambi”. Let’s hope that was Flower’s first and last hunt.