Tim’s Hound Blog
An effort at sharing random news, thoughts, and hunting stories from Tim and the Woodpont Beagles.......
Finally a day worth bragging about! (11/20/11)
We've had our share of windy and sunny weather lately, or so it seems that way every time I get a chance to take the hounds out. But today was one of those days we live for....no wind, wet but not raining, cloudy, and about 60 degrees. I knew the hounds would run well before I even went to the kennels. I loaded 18 hounds in the back of the Mule ATV and headed for the lower fields of our farm.
Manager started the first rabbit in a multiflora rose thicket after I had just walked right past it. Rabbits sit tight this time of year. They took it down into a swamp (see cattail swamp in photo) while I stood on the hillside above and watched the action. The rabbit made two loops around the swamp on almost the same track, which sometimes can be confusing for the hounds, but not this day. After the second loop, he came out across a path, on across an old food plot and up the edge of a cow pasture before swinging back toward the swamp. After another trip down the middle of the swamp, he headed again for the pasture. This time he went way out into the middle of the open pasture. A young male named Buzzard did some nice work picking the line across the short grass pasture.
The rabbit went up over a hill but eventually came back down along the pasture fence past where I was standing. If I had a better camera, I would have some nice action shots for you of the pack coming along, but no luck with that today! But they were sounding good as they came down that hill, and it was Tapster who found where the rabbit had gone through the fence leaving the pasture.
Eventually we got mixed up with other rabbits and started to run in another area, but not before they had put in a fast 30 minutes on this first rabbit. Hounds ran hard today for 3 hours before I had to go in. Deer were everywhere, but no hound showed any interest. One little doe jumped up 15 feet from me in the middle of that big field in the photo while hounds were all around. I am hoping for more days like this to come. Hounds out today were Manager, Brawler, Tackler, Smoker, Bear, Bison, Buzzard, Tapster, Birthday, Birdbaby, Covergirl, Chicory, Madcap, Cheerful, Charmer, Tally, Tarbaby, and Birdcall.
Here is a photo I took in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, while vacationing there earlier this month. They say these sagebrush flats have jack rabbits. I'd like to give one a run!
Dean Biscamp in Better Beagling (9/27/11)
If you are a subscriber to the fine little magazine "Better Beagling", you probably have read the Dean Biscamp interview article in the October issue written by Gary Lee. Dean and his Windsong Beagles have been around forever. His interview is full of good advice for people wishing to get into beagling, and field trialing in particular.
Dean said this about "jump dogs": "I know most of you have had hounds that jumped more rabbits on any given day than all the reast of the pack combined. I call these 'jump dogs'. I like that term -- and I like having one of these dogs in the pack, you know you're going to get plenty of action."
And this about old hounds: "In years gone by, I've had old hounds past their prime who would begin to fall behind the pack when the day had been long and the races hard. Did these old warriors quit and come to the truck? No! They did not. Time after time they would cross a road behind the pack and never look to the left or right, head pointed in the direction of the pack, always trying to get there. I describe these hounds as 'pure of heart'."
I saw this very thing this summer while running my pack on the farm across the road from us. The farm over there is very steep in places, mostly wooded, and the rabbits run big. I remember watching the pack come out of some woods and go up a little field and then along the ridgetop and back into another woods. As they came along the ridge, I was there watching them closely. After the pack passed me and went on, along came little old Charmer. As she passed me she never gave me a glance. Like Dean said, her face was pointed toward the pack well ahead of her. At past 10, her best days are behind her, but the effort is still there.
This past Saturday morning I took 11 males hunting and left the females at home. (The females ran on Sunday morning). I took the males to a public hunting area not too far away. This area is reclaimed mine land, with many highwalls where rabbits can take refuge when pressed. Hounds jumped 9 rabbits in about 3 hours. They put 8 of 9 in holes and lost the other one in some deep woods when the younger hounds somehow got ahead of the more experienced members of the pack, which caused the loss. Overall, the longest run was about 20 minutes, and that was on the first rabbit jumped.
McApple Bear, who came last year from Chad and Carmen McDannell in PA, again proved he was definitely a "jump dog" as described by Mr. Biscamp above. Bear jumped 7 of the 9 rabbits we started that day. He is a Bruiser son, and finding game was always Bruiser's strongest quality. (Thanks Chad!)
A highlight of my day was walking up on a huge buck in his bed. I was making plenty of noise, and the hounds were seaching all around me, but I walked to within 20 feet of this deer and saw him before he got up and ran. His rack looked like those you see on mule deer out west. He was looking at me, and when he turned his head to get up and run, it looked like a small tree (of antlers) was turning. Only one young hound opened (Bison) and I quickly showed him that was a mistake.
Hounds out on September 24 were (all males): Manager, Brawler, Smoker, Tackler, Bear, Tapster, Buzzard, Cherokee, Bison, Biker, and Birddog.
Photo: Rabbit number 5 went into this pipe. Note the orange mine drainage.
Photo: Rabbit number 6 went into this highwall refuge. I believe the rabbits here get used to escaping from coyotes by quickly heading for holes like this.
Here we are in mid-August. At this time of year, a 30 minute chase for my hounds is exceptional. A month from now, things will start to improve as the cooler weather starts to drop the heavy cover and the young rabbits turn into adults.
I had 6 or 7 chases in 3 hours this past Sunday morning with an 18-hound pack, but none of them lasted more than 15 minutes. Scenting was poor. The most exciting part of the morning for me was when the hounds brought a rabbit (that Covergirl had started) out of some pines and along a weedy ditch next to the road where I was standing. They were well-bunched as they drove through a lespedeza patch and into a patch of thistles, then made a short loop into the edge of the pines and back again through the thistle and lespedeza. I watched that superb bitch, Madcap, leading the way through the lespedeza before they went back into the pines and out of my sight. Because of the thick cover, I never did see the rabbit. But sometimes watching just a little piece of a run like that is enough to keep me buzzed for another week!
Apparently we have a shortage of female quail here on the farm this year. The bachelor males have been calling all summer. Most years the calling ends by July, but not this year. Some days we can hear as many as 4 or 5 males at one time. According to what I have read in Herb Stoddard’s great book on the Bobwhite Quail, most of these callers are unattached but still hoping for a mate. Soon they will stop calling and join a covey in their neighborhood. Last week while mowing paths, I saw the first brood of chicks for this year. A male was leading 6 or 7 golf ball-sized chicks on what must have been one of their first excursions.
You may have read that the Canadians have started a petition to ban the e-collar (shock collar) in their country. When my River Hills Majer won the National Beagle Club’s Triple Challenge event in 1998, one of the prizes I received was a set of 2 collars. Until that time, I had never used e-collars. Since that time, I have never stopped using them. Today, I always have 6 collars on when the hounds are out. These are used on hounds under 2 years of age who might cause trouble, or join in if trouble starts. On the great majority of my hunts, I never press a button, but I always appreciate the security of knowing I will not lose my hounds. I would hate to see the collars banned.
If you have Woodpont hounds, let us know how they are doing. It’s always very interesting to hear from you. Hope your summer is going well. Cooler weather, and more hunting, is right around the corner!
Coats and Tails (7/12/11)
My 1996 cross to Field Champion Northway Ninja when Bruce New had him in Kentucky gave the us some great running hounds through Ninja’s daughter, Woodpont Birdsong. From this cross, we get line control, check ability, nose and chop mouth. A negative from this cross has been the short, thin coats and “rat” tails, which frequently get very bloody and raw from field work in heavy cover. Fortunately, our show crosses have mostly corrected the thin coats/tails problem for us. Most show beagles have very good coats.
Photo: Mayfly and Magical: Wonderful twin sisters representing 13 generations of Woodpont breeding. (Tackler x Madcap litter). They have two crosses of FC. Northway Ninja, yet are examples of how we have improved the coats and conformation with careful use of show lines.
There was recently a discussion on the Show Beagle Yahoo Mail List about coats and tails. I explained that some field beaglers dock tails to prevent field problems later. Some people routinely dock every puppy they raise. I have never been a proponent of this practice. Instead, I think field beaglers should be searching out and breeding to lines that produce thick coats and heavy tails that can withstand our briars and brambles. (This does not necessarily mean breed to a show beagle, since most hunting or field trial people would be best to avoid a total show cross).
One person, who breeds both Cocker Spaniels and show Beagles, asked me if she could use my email to help fight anti-docking laws which are currently gaining momentum. I explained that while I am not in favor of docking dogs in any way, I also would not support any legislation taking away individual rights. Too often, when we start down that slope, there is just no going back. It seems like we lose more of our rights every year.
Thirty years ago, FC. Dingus Macrae seemed to produce a heavy coat in many of his puppies. Some of them were very shaggy. I have read that there were packs of rough or long-haired beagles in England until the late 1800s, They appear to have fallen out of favor and their lines lost by about 1900.
Have you noticed hounds with heavy coats get fewer ticks that those with thin coats? Mandy Bobbitt said she had not noticed this in her hounds, but I doubt she has many with thin coats. What have you seen?
One of my hounds with a nice thick coat is the mostly show-bred Woodpont Tarbaby (see earlier post below for her photo). While hunting this past weekend, Tarbaby, who is now running well with the pack, fell into an open cistern (or maybe an old stock tank?) and had to be rescued. The hounds were having a big run in a pine plantation that is growing on the site of an old farm. I heard a hound paddling in water and went to investigate. After I hauled her out of the water, she stood there for a minute as if slightly dazed and then harked to the pack. I later saw her do some good work in the pines. Several years ago, my Gloria fell into that same old cistern and had to be pulled out. I got to her just in time. It was colder that day and she could not have lasted much longer in the water. After this latest incident, I plan to add a ladder escape route to the cistern. The water inside is about 3 feet deep and the opening is at ground level. (see photo)
The rabbit they were driving when Tarbaby fell into the cistern made several big circles and eventually beat them by running out onto and along a gravel road. It had rained the night before and the morning was wet and foggy. Scenting all morning seemed to be about as good as it gets, and hounds definitely had the advantage on the rabbits. All the wet weather this spring and now summer has helped to produce some great hunting.
Hounds out on July 9th were Manager, Brawler, Smoker, Tackler, Tapster, Bear, Cherokee, Bison, Birddog, Buzzard, Birdbaby, Tally, Birthday, Covergirl, Birdcall, and a wet Tarbaby.
Rule of Five (6/1/11)
Have you heard of this? The Rule of Five as it applies to hound breeding goes like this: Breed no closer than having the same hound show up in the 2nd generation of one side and the 3rd generation of the other side of your pedigree. Breeding closer than this is considered too close by many, and would definitely be considered inbreeding. For most breeders, the Rule of Five would be a good one to follow.
Of course, this is only the pedigree part of making a cross, so you still have to consider the hounds involved, their individual strengths and weaknesses, and how they potentially will match up together. There are so many things to consider before making any cross, and no breeding should be done without this careful planning.
When I bred Madcap to Tackler this spring, with a little help from OSU (see story below), I used the Rule of Five. If you look at the pedigree of this litter, you will see Woodpont Bruiser is the sire of Madcap and the grandsire of Tackler. This means we have linebred to Bruiser.
(Click here to see this pedigree).
The goal in this example was to get as many of Bruiser’s traits into the puppies by having him close up on both sides of the pedigree. At the same time, we want to improve on any of Bruiser’s weaknesses through the influences from the other parts of the pedigree. In this case, I wanted Bruiser’s hunting traits in a slightly bigger and stronger hound. Time will tell if I was successful.
If your own breeding program is to the point that you want to ‘breed back’ to a favorite hound, I would encourage you to think about the Rule of Five. Failure to linebreed may cause you to water down your bloodline to the point where it will not reproduce for you, and breeding too close may give you more ‘undesireables’ than you wish to have in your puppies. Stick to your line.
Madcap Update (5/24/11)
Woodpont Madcap, who was bred at Ohio State University in March (see story below), had 11 puppies and is raising 10 of them. All are doing very well. If anyone has interest in a male puppy, there should be a few extras.
We also are considering letting go of a couple of older males to make room for some of these puppies. If anyone would like a good solid male to add to your pack, let me know. These hounds are deer proof and reliable hunters. Prices will be very reasonable to the right homes.
I just added some more hounds to the Some of the Hounds page in case you would like to see more of the Woodpont pack. Below is a photo of one I did not add (yet). This is Woodpont Tarbaby, who is just starting to open on the track. She came last year as a puppy from Jackie and Tracy Crewse in Kentucky. Tarbaby's dam is Woodpont Tassel, and her sire is the show bred Briarhill's Just the One. Jackie and Tracy have 2 littermate sisters to her.
Springtime Afternoon Hunt (4/28/11)
Under a stormy, threatening sky on Easter Sunday afternoon I was working the hounds across a large open field moving toward a ditchline full of small thickets where I had found rabbits in past years. The field stretched to my left to a large stream, and to my right eventually to a wooded hillside. As I approached the thickets and encouraged the hounds to go in, deer began running out the other side. Two deer went to the right and one or two went left toward the stream. Tapster spotted the deer and wanted to sight chase, but I easily called him off. A couple of youngsters who did not see the deer did catch their scent on the wind and began to show interest, but I stopped that as well. My method for training young hounds about deer is to scold them first, and if that does not stop them, then Tritronics is used on a low setting. I want them to know it is me who is causing the shock, so they understand that deer are something “the boss does not want me to do.” That method has worked well for me.
The hounds found a rabbit in that thicket where the deer had been. As soon as they opened, I saw the rabbit running in the direction of the stream. Along the stream there are piles of rocks and concrete slabs left there after mining operations in that area, and the rabbit headed for them, so I assumed he was going to hole. To my surprise, the 17 hounds roared right around the concrete and headed into a bit of brush and then back out the edge of the field and into another ditchline with small clumps of willows. Hounds to that point had been really driving hard and their voices were echoing off the wooded hills nearby. They drove along the edge of the ditch going to my right as I struggled over the next field to keep them in view. At the end of the field, they crossed another ditchline full of water that ran parallel to the other ditches, and then began to climb the grassy hillside on the other side. Hounds were fairly coursing the scent across the grassy slope, with one hound or hounds leading, then changing leaders as the scent trail went left or right. They roared up the bank into a thicket of multiflora rose bushes and then over the hill out of my sight.
I left the open field and climbed the hill looking for the hounds. I could hear them running on, but they had entered the woods by the time I reached the top of a grassy knoll nearby. The hounds made a loop on the wooded hillside and then came back down to the open field. I saw the rabbit come across below me and then watched the hounds work the track across. (It’s a rare treat for me to see my hounds in the open as much as they were on this rabbit). The rabbit had moved on across a corner of the field and then went back up into the woods. The patches of open rocky dirt in this field ‘brought them to their noses’ and forced them to pick the track across slower than they had been running up to that point.
Photo: Brawler (head down) and Manager (head up) lead the way across the field toward the woods. You can see the other hounds pulling to them. These two veterans know their business.
As they entered the woods, they again bunched up and the cry increased. The pack went up the hill through a stand of tall pines, then back down to the edge near me. I saw the rabbit again briefly near the edge, but lost it from view as the hounds checked. After some time, I heard Smoke find the line moving away from me up the hollow between two hillsides, then others fell in and they went all the way to the head of the hollow and over the top of the hill. At this point I could barely hear them, but they soon came back around the hill to my right driving hard, and then around and back over the top again. When they came back over the next time, the hound music stopped abruptly about halfway down the hillside. Some of the puppies came looking for me but most of the old hounds did not, so I went up into the woods looking for them and found them marking hole in a large rock outcropping (see photo). The entire run lasted 30 minutes and covered a great distance from the jump in the open field thicket to the top of the wooded hollow.
Photo: Marking hole.
This really was just a typical spring chase in our Ohio hill country. Come join us for a hunt if you can. Buck rabbits are traveling at this time of year, but they know to find a hole (or else) when the Woodponts come to their patch of woods!
Hounds out on Sunday, April 24th were: Manager, Brawler, Smoke, Tapster, Proctor, Buzzard, Cherokee, Bison, Bear, Cheerful, Charmer, Chicory, Covergirl, Tally, Birdbaby, Birthday, and Birdcall.
Another Book You Should Read (4/26/11)
Over the past several months I have been suggesting books that hound breeders should read. You can find these books online, through ebay or other sources. Read all you can. There is much for us all to learn.
Maybe my favorite book of all is one called "Rycroft on Hounds, Hunting and Country", edited and compiled by James Scharnberg. This is a collection of articles by Sir Newton Rycroft, originally published over a 15 year period in "Hounds" magazine from England. I've been a subscriber to Hounds since the early 90s, and was a big fan of Rycroft's work, so when this compilation came out, I was eager to get my copy. Scharnberg is a longtime master and huntsman of the Skycastle French Hounds, a pack of "fuzzy" (PBGV) bassets in eastern Pennsylvania.
Rycroft was an Englishman, so the articles in this book deal mostly with English Foxhounds, Beagles and Bassets. For anyone interested in English bloodlines, the book is a treasure of information, but there is also a huge amount of good advice for any hound breeder. Here are a few gems from Rycroft:
"People, I think, breed hounds for more than one reason, but I believe now, as I always have, that the chief reason and the chief object of any breeding policy must be to improve the quality of your sport by breeding."
"Both nose and voice, however, have to be purposefully bred for. They don't just happen."
"While I can see that nose might be improved by a fairly drastic outcross, I cannot see that this is necessarily worthwhile unless the resulting hounds, and their descendants, show an overall gain. Is a slight improvement in nose worthwhile if you lose more in stamina and constitution than you gain in nose?"
"However, among these many other virtues, there must certainly be included three vital ones -- Pace, Stamina, and Longevity for a long hunting life. All three, in my opinion, depend to a considerable extent on conformation."
"I doubt if any truly great breeder is ever completely satisfied -- thrilled and delighted when things go right, yes; but that is not quite the same thing. For it seems to me that a great breeder will always be a perfectionist, and because he is a perfectionist, he will be driven always and for ever by a little niggling spark of discontent towards an ideal that is for him -- because of his high standards -- never quite attainable."
Photo Essay: Spring Hunting! (4-11-11)
Hounds have really been pouring it on this spring. Here are a few miscellaneous photos from some of the hunts:
Photo: I just missed a great photo of the hounds crossing an opening in the pines on March 20th. They were driving too hard for the slow camera man!
Photo: We ran this rabbit into a tree hole on March 19th. Cheerful, Brawler, Tally and Birdcall are taking one last sniff.
Photo: After running up, over, and around the hills for 1 hour and 35 minutes, this rabbit wisely found refuge on March 24th under the concrete slab left from a long gone farm building. This was the second rabbit to go under the slab that day.
Photo: This rabbit holed on a rocky hillside (middle of photo) only 5 minutes after Proctor found it in a swamp briar thicket on April 9th. I suspect this may have been a pregnant or nursing female rabbit. The next rabbit we started ran for 40 minutes all around this hillside without going to a hole before we switched to another line and left it (him?). If you look really carefully, you may see 7 hounds in this photo.
Photo: Another shot from April 9th. It was cool, still, and foggy -- a perfect hunting morning. This photo shows the hounds leaving the swampy lowlands and headed for a hillside. This location is so remote that only one vehicle came along this road in over 3 hours. That's little gray Charmer near the front of the pack. She turned 10 this spring, but can still get it done.
Photo: As bad as I hate it, sometimes my hounds do "slot up" like those less aggressive hounds! This is McApple Bear leading them out of the swamp on April 9th. He's an impressive hound for one that just recently turned 2 years old.
The Ohio State University (3-12-11)
My very good hound Madcap has never allowed a male to touch her, thus no puppies ever from her. She will be 5 years old on May 1st, so I decided this year it was time to do something. I enlisted the help of the veterinarians at Ohio State to do an artificial insemination. At first, I thought we would do this surgically, but Drs. Pinto and da Silva told me they were having near 100% success using a method called trans-cervical, which includes using an endoscope (camera) to place the semen where it needs to go. So we decided to use that method and spare Madcap the discomfort of surgery.
Using progesterone testing to determine the right date, we bred her on three different dates this week. (Two breedings is normal, but some problems with the progesterone testing equipment caused the first breeding to be too early). We think we got it right on the last two visits. The last breeding was just to increase the size of the litter. We'll do an ultrasound in 4 weeks to see what to expect.
Photo: OSU Veterinarian Dr. Yolanda Markley and Bethany Gibson, Senior Student, with Madcap.
Madcap is the 12th generation of one of the female lines in the kennel. From her line, I have been able to get good sized females with those big chop voices. She is as good in the field as any of the 11 generations before her. Since I have not made a show cross on that line for several generations (since the cross to the great Ch. Shaw's Spirit of the Chase), I chose to breed her to Tackler, who carries a strong show cross through his sire. Tackler is also very good in the field - close turning and good searcher, and better conformation than Madcap. The puppies from this cross will have Woodpont Bruiser in the 2nd and 3rd generation. We have high expectations for them.
Best Time of Year (3-9-11)
Springtime hunting just cannot be topped. Breeding rabbits, especially the males, often give the best runs of the year. This past Sunday I was out alone with 14 running hounds and 4 puppies. It took us about 30 minutes to find the first rabbit, but eventually Charmer started one. The first run was short and sloppy, as is sometimes the case when hounds have not been out in a week or more. I sometimes tell visitors not to watch them too closely the first hour or so, while they wear off the excess energy, but after that things can get really good.
Sunday was a good example of that. After another search, Chicory jumped the second rabbit in some thick cutover tree tops.
Photo: Thick briars and cutover tree tops. Saw a nice buck leave this area. Hounds found the first two rabbits here.
It ran uphill onto a 4 wheeler path, then on into a forest of 20 foot pines. The rabbit began to make large circles in the pines, so I climbed to the ridge running through the middle of the pines where I could be in the center of the action. Hounds were packed up and running hard.
The temperature was about 40 degrees and it was cloudy with some wind. We had about ½ inch of snow on the ground from the night before, but scenting appeared to be excellent. I thought maybe the snow would help me spot the rabbit moving through the pines, but I never could seem to get in the right spot when the hounds turned in my direction.
Photo: My ridgetop lookout in the pines.
They ran that rabbit about as well as my hounds can for 55 minutes, with their voices echoing around the woods. Eventually I heard them head out of the pines and back into the cutover hardwoods, so I moved quickly down to where I could see them. Just as I got out of the pines, I heard Cheerful get a check deep in the hollow and they started back in my direction, so I moved around to cut them off just in time to see a muddy, fat looking rabbit headed quickly back uphill toward the pines. I swear he had a worried look on his face!
Baby and Cheerful came out of the cutover leading the pack. I had my camera out trying to take photos as they went by me.
Photo: Leaving the cutover. Baby and Cheerful leading.
Eventually this rabbit beat them in the pines. He started twisting and turning in small circles and got the hounds confused with all the scent in a small area. When running broke down, I moved them on.
We eventually had more good running later on a rabbit Brawler jumped from a briar thicket around the hill at the edge of another section of pines. Hounds ran this rabbit from a thick scrubby hillside through the pines over the hill to the cutover and back several times. We eventually had 2 or 3 rabbits up during this running.
Hounds out 3-6-11 were: Manager, Brawler, Smoke, Tackler, Proctor, Tapster, Buzzard, Cherokee, Bison, Bear, Cheerful, Charmer, Covergirl, Birdbaby, Birthday, Chicory, Tarbaby and Birdcall.
I have been working over the past week with the veterinarians at Ohio State University to get Madcap bred to Tackler. If all goes well, she should have her litter in May. This will be the first litter for Madcap. I am excited at the possibilites of keeping her important line going. More on this project later.
Land of the Eternal Snow! (2-1-11)
After nearly 2 months of constant snow covering SE Ohio, we finally are seeing grass again. We are getting blessed rain tonight, while not far north of us people are seeing ice and snow measured in feet. Two different climate experts I have seen recently on TV say global warming is causing the extreme weather seen over much of the world. They say our snow is from increased moisture in the Gulf of Mexico from the warming Earth. The moisture mixed with the cold weather we normally get in winter anyway is providing more snow than usual. If they are correct, the weather of our past two winters could be the norm in years to come. Comforting, huh?
This past Sunday I took 16 hounds out here on the farm and had some nice running, especially considering how infrequently the hounds have been out since December 1st. Rabbits were running big, which indicates to me the breeding season is close. Hounds that stood out were Brawler, Madcap, Manager, and Charmer. I also saw some flashes of brilliance from Tapster, Smoke, and Baby. None of the runs lasted any great length of time, because there were so many rabbits up and the hounds kept switching. But we did have hours of interesting action that I was able to watch closely from the hilltops. I am hoping to tell you about some great runs in the weeks ahead when I am able to take the hounds to places where rabbits are not so abundant. Springtime is coming and it's my favorite time of year!
Another Book You Should Read (2-1-11)
In 1997, Ben Hardaway of Columbus, Georgia, published his life story in a book called "Never Outfoxed". In case you've never heard of Mr. Hardaway, he bred the world famous Midland Foxhounds, starting in the late 1940s and continuing today, although his son-in-law, Mason Lampton, is primarily responsible the the pack nowdays. The book details his start with July Foxhounds, who were originally from Georgia, and Ben's friendship early on with George Garrett, who probably did more to develop the July hound than any other person. Ben kept a pack of pure Julys until the deer came into Georgia, and then he realized changes were needed. His Julys would run the deer out of the country, so he started searching for hounds he could cross on the Julys that would help with deer resistance. He eventually found hounds in the northern US, as well as England, and developed what is known today as the Hardaway Crossbred Hound.
Photo: Fox River Valley Jerry. This hound carries Midland bloodlines and is a good example of a crossbred foxhound. His black and tan coloring caught my eye, of course. Most of the Midland hounds are white or lemon and white, however. It's very hard to get beagles made this well!
Here's some hound breeding advice from Ben's book: "The more you concentrate on one characteristic whether it is color, nose, conformation, whatever -- the more the overall excellence of the pack will suffer. The breeding of a superior pack of foxhounds is a compromise. All ingredients: biddability, conformation, temperament, intelligence, speed and drive, nose, cry, fox sense, and deer resistance must be given equal weight. It is a lucky breeder, indeed, if the best working hounds can also win at hound shows."
And this: "If you find hounds that suit you and do the job, stick with that family or strain and be careful in crossing out on something different, unless you personally know the strain and the individual you are going to use. Once you have mounted the tiger, it's hard to get off. As my old foxhunting buddy used to say, 'Stick close to the root of the tree'."
Mixed around the interesting and entertaining stories from his hunting life, Ben's huge book is full of good advice for hound breeders, foxhounds or beagles. It's a big favorite of mine.
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