Thursday, May 14, 2009

John Russell's Bagged Fox

From Alys Serrell's 1904 book, With Hound and Terrier in the Field , we learn that the famous Rev. John Russell was not above using bagged foxes.

That makes me feel a bit better about my own efforts, on foot, to locate a fox to ground (and without hounds!) on a cold winters day with the wind howling down around my ears.

How much easier terrier work must be if you are, in essence, engaging in a canned hunt -- and probably with paid diggers too!

It was through his friend Mr Yeatman that my father made the acquaintance of the Rev. John Russell, of Devonshire fame, another choice spirit of the clerical circle whose interests were not bounded by their parochial duties. My father was staying at Stock House when he heard his host lamenting that, owing to his hunting establishment being very short of hands, he did not know how to get some hounds to the Rev. Jack Russell, which he had promised by a certain day.

Being young and always eager where hounds were in question, my father volunteered to take the draft to Iddesleigh, in Devonshire, and to deliver them within the time specified. This meant a long and weary journey by road. But, nothing daunted, my father was off at daybreak with a large piece of cheese in his pocket, with which he coaxed the hounds along till they grew accustomed to him, and he accomplished the odd eighty miles on horseback in the stipulated time.

This was the sort of thing to appeal to Mr Russell. He was very pleased, and gave my father the warmest of welcomes. That night as the two men were sitting at dinner my father expressed his regret that the next day was not one of Mr Russell's hunting days, as he had to go off early in the morning of the day after to enable him to keep his term at Oxford. He expressed so much disappointment at not seeing the famous hounds in the field, that at last Mr Russell exclaimed, " Look here, my boy, you shall see them, if you don't mind turning out at day-break. There is a fox shut up in the saddleroom that was brought me to-day, and we will see if we can't dust his jacket for him." It was in the early spring, and a move was made to the stables the following morning before it was light. The men being roused, the horses were soon saddled, and all was ready for departure. The kennel lad was sent off on a rough pony with the fox in a bag, which he was ordered to let out at a certain spot, and then hounds were unkennelled and they started in pursuit. A glorious spin over a fine wild country followed, at the end of which the fox made good his escape, and the two sportsmen returned home in good time, as hounds had to Innit the next day. From that time Mr Russell and my father often met, both in Devon and in Dorset.


1 comment:

Heather Houlahan said...

Well, at least the bagged fox got away.

More of a chance than a deer on Ted Nugent's ranch or a lawyer out for a day with Dick Cheney.