What a weekend! It is hard to know where to start.
*Hunting. *Counting the Moore County Hounds, which huntsman Jody Murtagh brought so he would have some familiar faces, there were 7 packs: Moore County, Sedgefield, Rockbridge, New Market-Middletown, Mecklenburg, Red Mountain and Stonewall. There were American, Crossbred, and Penn-Marydel hounds which for the most part had never seen each other. We stuffed them in a horse trailer for 15 minutes, Jody went in and put the mojo on them and then they hunted like one balanced pack for two fantastic days of hunting.
The first day was slow for the first hour and that gave the hounds a chance to get the feel of each other and the country. All the visiting huntsmen rode behind and were impressed how Jody gave the hounds plenty of time to hunt the "heads;" the wet places in the Sandhills that drain the land and which can not be ridden across. The hounds finally started speaking in a large head/creek and a coyote was viewed away at the bottom, which most of the pack followed; another went out the side with one hound behind it, Sedgefield Popper, darn it; and a third slipped out the back alone. (later a freshly dug earth was seen at the side of the head.) A full cry hour later the run ended. Of the 41 hounds out we had 37 at the end of the run. It doesn't get much better. By then it was 70 degrees and the horses and hounds were beat. With a long hack back to the meet and another day of hunting ahead we called it quits.
The second day started an hour earlier since the time changed on us. We cast soon after daylight and knew it was going to get warm fast. We had 9000 acres to chose from but we knew where three coyotes lived so we headed back in that direction. After a couple of false starts the hounds cold trailed for about 15 minutes, picking up steam all the time and then a small coyote was viewed crossing one of the many dirt roads on the property. It was full cry for the next hour and a half, finally ending in a swamp that was right at the edge of the world. Many horses were exhausted. I had to commandeer a "fresh" one from Paula Nelson, the Hilltopper's field master. Like the day before we were missing just a few hounds at the end.
Jody did an excellent job of hunting the pack. He made and executed difficult decisions on the spot and we had two of the best days' sport of the year. *
The facility and grounds. *The PT was held at the Gordon bird dog field trial grounds which are owned by North Carolina. The Clubhouse, stables, corrals and kennels are located in the middle of 9000 acres of sandhill pine forest. Each year thousands of quail are released. It is an incredible facility. But given its extensive use by the bird dog competitors it is hard to secure for a fox hunting. In fact, in order to fox hunt it you have to be in a performance trial.
*Hydration and nutrition. *Lots and lots of great food and beverages of every type were available breakfast, lunch and dinner for two days.
*Those who made it possible: *
The Moore County Hounds. As an incredible gift of support Moore County lent us their country (Even though the property is state owned and very difficult to secure the use of, it is in the Moore County territory.), their huntsman, and their whips. And since they didn't have a huntsman or whips they canceled a regularly scheduled day of hunting. We can not say thank you enough for this very neighborly thing. We will help you raise a barn someday.
The Judges: Jody Murtagh, Kerrie Murtagh Hayes, Clive Rose, Mitzi Cabeen, and Lincoln Sadler. These judges rode hard to make sure they could get as many scores as possible.
The food team: Erin Esposito, aka Kitchen Bitch, and her team of champions: Kit Lippert, Jan Sorrells, Paula Nelson, Judy Gallman, Elaine Berry, Drs. Spillman, Jenifer Pendergass, The Wiseman family and others who I am forgetting.
The Scorers: David Altfeder and his understudy Randall Wiseman
He who know and does all: Lincoln Sadler.
Visiting huntsmen: David Raley, Red Mountain; Doug Russell, Mecklenburg; Lili Wykle, Sonewall (cutest huntsman); George Harne, New Market-Middltown (second cutest huntman); David Connor, Rockbridge. These folks are the best and each has fantastic hounds.
Donald Minor: our kennelman and road whip.
We really really appreciate what everyone did.
*The Winners: "Who is that 74 dog?"
*The competition was really secondary to the adventure of hunting together with the best hounds of seven packs on an incredible facility. What an adventure. And almost every time I saw the hounds you could throw a blanket over them. So what I take away is a rich experience of a /superpack/. Nevertheless, the judges captured lots of scores and a few hounds stood out and Rockbridge Clay, number 74 was the winner. As I type this at the office the list of the top hounds is at home so I will sent the list of the top hounds out tomorrow.
The pack winners were: 1, Rockbridge; 2,Sedgefield; 3, Red Mountain