We are a small hunt, so our hounds need to do it all - hunting, of course, and performance trials, and hound shows. I also just about have to do it all - huntsman, kennelman, vet, joint master, honorary secretary, and chief cook! We do have great friends, Barry and Linda Vanfleet, that come down from PA and live here September through April. Barry whips in and comes down every morning and helps me with kennel chores. Linda is a truck whip. We love it!
Red Oak Foxhounds winning the pack class at the Virginia Foxhound Show in May. M. Drum photo.
When we started our hunt, seven years ago, we drafted in three couple of hounds from Reedy Creek Hunt. We were members and I whipped in as the hunt was folding after the death of Jim Culleton. We were also hunting with Stonewall Hounds (VA), and Master and huntsman Lili Wykle drafted us many great hounds. One was Keystone, she was half Penn-Marydel and half American. Donald Philhower had produced her litter through the cross of Golden's Bridge Kermit to Potomac Wander. He then gave Keystone to Larry Pitts, and Larry drafted her to Lili, and Lili gave her to me.
I did my homework, and looked at her pedigree, read up on old hunting lines you should breed to. Our many years of breeding hunting Labrador retrievers taught me it's all about the pedigree. Donald had remarked what a good hound Kermit was, so we bred Keystone to Reedy Creek Soda, and that was our start. I bred Soda twice to Keystone, to Jamboree (from Lili) and to Joy (from Lili also). All three breedings gave us hounds that went to the performance trials and did very well.
Our stallion hounds, Soda and Kendol (offspring of Golden's Bridge Phoenix) have great drive, nose, voice and biddability. My favorite hunting story is with Kendol. We were on a coyote, it was headed towards our one lane bridge and toward Ft. Pickett. I was hoping our truck whip would get there in time to turn the coyote. I also was blowing them back in towards the creek away from Ft. Pickett where my lead hound, Bishop, was headed. Of course, Kendol comes to the horn, he always does. I went down the power line, the coyote comes out in front of us. Kendol saw the coyote, ran to the line, nose down, and he was off in full cry right towards Ft. PIckett. I stayed with him for a few minutes, then fear of the pack into Pickett, I stopped on Judd Road, and started blowing hounds in, the truck was there to pick them up, hoping we could get them stopped and off the line. We collected hounds, all the time I am wondering about Kendol. A few minutes later, here comes Kendol to the horn, stopped on the coyote and came back. That's my boy!
We love going to Sedgefield Hunt (NC) Performance Trials, Master and huntsman Fred Berry is the best, and makes the weekend of hunting something to remember. Soda and Keystone were our first hounds to attend the trials. Our Soda's offspring have done well at the trials, and Kendol came in 4th his first year, 2nd his second year, 3rd year he was injured on day one and still came in 5th overall for that day. Last year, before Sedgefield, he ripped most of a toe off and was unable to attend. We are hoping his offspring will be ready next season for the trials.
Competing at the March Sedgefield Performance Trials. Photo by Theresa Miller, MFH.
Our Soda/Keystone offspring Alice, Angler and Eager also all have gone to the performance trials and done well. These three performance hounds, along with Kendol, help make up our pack class this year, along with showing in the ring. Our pack class also had 2 1/2 couple of three-year-olds, of which Garmin last year was Penn-Marydel Champion, sister Gracie was 1st place Unentered her first show year (3rd place this year), and brother George was 1st place at Virginia last year as Entered PMD and 3rd this year at Bryn Mawr. Another pair are Flint and Falco, brothers sired by Kendol out of Annie. Flint was Reserve Champion PMD Listed last year and Champion PMD Listed this year at Bryn Mawr. Annie has shown every year too, but only at Carolina this year.
This was our first year showing in the pack class at Carolina, Virginia and Bryn Mawr Hound shows. Of course, everyone tells you their horror stories of the challenges of the pack class. So we practiced! Whipper-in Sue Kerner came every day and whipper-in Kim Harrison came a couple times a week to help take the show pack out. We made our lurchers, Labs, Jack Russells (house dogs) pitch in and help, too. Out of five lurchers, only Spot wanted to help walk out - the rest retreated back to the house and their couch. The old Jack Russell had to come out too, along with Sue's daughter's small Austrian shepherd, which was a little exciting since it looked like a coyote.
Well, practicing with this menagerie paid off, because when we walked out early morning before the show and all the packs were running here and there, ours held hard. We showed at Carolina, I was just so happy to be there and my hounds behaved... but the test was to have the whipper-in hold the hounds while the huntsman walked away. I knew that was not happening, we did not practice that one, and of course my hounds stayed with me. We came in last place, but I was just happy we did it!. I told Kim, they never do that at Virginia!
We did a little practicing holding at gates between shows. So at the Virginia Hound Show, what does the want us to do? Have the whipper-in hold hounds while the huntsman walks away. My heart sank. I told the hounds to hold up and walked away, peeking over my shoulder...Lordy they were holding...I walked my distance and called them, they flew back to me. We finished and got back to our shade tree, so happy, we had tears of joy they held. And we were even more surprised and overwhelmed we got 1st place. Later, I asked Kim, "What did you say to the hounds to make them hold?" Kim is a volunteer puppy raiser and teaches foundation puppy classes for the Guilding Eyes for the Blind. Kim said, "I told them, 'Good hounds,' and talked sweet to them like I would a Guilding Eyes Lab in training when they are doing it right."
Red Oak Flint '17 was Champion Penn-Marydel Listed at Bryn Mawr. Photo courtesy of Nancy Dougherty.
The next week was Bryn Mawr and the same show pack went. We won 1st place there in the PMD pack, and 2nd place in the Huntsman Performance Class, judged separately by Dr. Marvin Beeman, MFH. We are so proud of our ROF hounds and staff! Many thanks to everyone that drafted us such nice hounds to start our pack!