Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Virginia State News

March 21, 2013

Hounds learn cooperation at Va. hunt clubs

STAUNTON, Va. (AP) — An aptly named hound, Caboose, brings up the rear.

"We didn't name her that. That's what she came with," said Cynthia Morton, master of fox hounds for the Rockbridge Hunt Club.

Morton didn't give Caboose much credit. The hound did not want to ford the small creek with the rest of the pack to follow the scent. It took her some time, but Caboose finally found a small footbridge to cross over the cold water.

Hunt clubs work to bring along the young animals, so they can learn correctly. But at the beginning, it's basic.

"It's a monkey-see, monkey-do" situation, said Fred Getty, Middlebrook Hounds Hunt Club huntsman and master of fox hounds.

Working together Ages range in each foxhound pack. They aren't called dogs, they are working hounds — a distinction hunters are quick to point out.

The hunt clubs in the area use mainly Penn-Marydel hounds in their packs, along with blue tick and American hounds. Packs can number 20 to 45 hounds. Not all hounds are hunted at once, and there is a good mix of ages and capabilities throughout the pack.

Jones said he brings out certain hounds for particular weather or hunting areas.

"We have some hounds that are faster and much faster than the older hounds. You want this group to hunt as pack, you don't want individual hounds to run off," said Dan Jones, huntsman and joint master of the hounds for Glenmore Hunt Club. "If we're in real tight, like brushy country, those hounds that want to drive and push on real hard ... it isn't going to matter because they can't."

But, hounds don't come out of the kennel that way — it takes discipline and repetition, Getty said. "You have to work at it," he said. "That takes a lot of work, love and devotion."

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