Horse & Hound hunting correspondent Rory Knight Bruce recalls his best day of the 2014/15 season, which left him with "an indelible impression of sportsmanship and generosity"
More than 60 mounted and as many on foot attended Edward and Rebecca Brown’s generous lawn meet on 18 March for the Derwent foxhounds from North Yorkshire on their west-country visit to the Tiverton.
Cold spring sunshine wrapped a busy day of largely woodland hunting that concluded after two long 40min hunts at 5.50pm.
This day formed part of a week-long visit by the Derwent, whose 17½ couple of modern and Old English hounds were kennelled — with their master and huntsman Sean McClarron, and staff — at our farm in the Silverton country.
Twelve Derwent subscribers made the journey, some of whom had never before been to the West Country, and left an indelible impression of their sportsmanship and generosity.
These included vice chairman John Swiers, former chairman Charles Mitchell and his wife Lizzie, hunt secretary Julie Snowden, kennel-huntsman Jason Marles — a native of East Devon — and amateur whipper-in Damian Readman. Visiting masters included Liz Matthews from the Dulverton West and Sue White from the East Devon.
From the meet at Stoodleigh, hounds were put into Stoodleigh woods, a vast but rideable tract of forestry with stream-watered coombes. Under the field mastership of Tiverton joint-masters Kelvin Thomas and Gerald Emmett, both mounted and foot followers saw plenty of action. One dark doghound, Monarch 14, with College Valley blood, put the pack right on to their trail to produce a good morning hunt.
In the afternoon a herd of 50 red deer was seen below Oakford, which was a sight to behold. Soon afterwards another trail was found and a skilful hound hunt ensued, making it all worthwhile for those who had made the long journey.
The evening in the Stoodleigh Inn raised £210 for the Devon Air Ambulance.
Hounds adapted to their farm kennels and that evening slept well. Nor did they mind that our 10-year-old daughter was found fast asleep among them. An excellent day where the long journey by the Derwent was fully rewarded and appreciated.
To read many more reports from Horse & Hound’s hunting correspondents’ most memorable days of the 2014/15 season, pick up tomorrow’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (23 April 2015)