H. A. (Henry Anderson) Bryden.

Hare-hunting and harriers : with notices of beagles and basset hounds online

. (page 12 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Mr. Webster hunts two days a week ; his country
consists of pasture and plough in equal proportions,
with stretches of moorland (" The Haldons "), now
somewhat invaded by barbed wire, and some heavy
woodland at Ugbrook, Milber, Luscombe, and elsewhere.

The Modbury, consisting of eighteen couples of
twenty-inch pure harriers, with kennels at Modbury,
Ivybridge, hunt a big country, twenty miles square
in the territory of the Dartmoor foxhounds. They
have been established some fifty years, the present
Master, Mr. W. Gage-Hodge, hunting the pack two
days a week, with an occasional bye-day. Pasture,
plough, and moorland are all found within the limits
of the Hunt, and little wire exists. Mr. Netherton's
is yet another South Devon pack, hunting a country
about twelve miles square, between the Dart and Avon,
south of Totnes. One-third of the area lies on Dart-
moor, elsewhere there is a good deal of plough, with
a small proportion of grass, and a fair amount of wood-
land. These hounds, which consist of fourteen couples
of pure harriers (twenty-one-inch), have a very ancient
history, having been in the hands of the Netherton
family, it is said, since the fifteenth century. Mr. L. R.
Netherton, of Bowden House, Stoke Fleming, Dart-
mouth, has mastered the pack since 1868 and acts as
his own huntsman. It is a pleasure to record that there
is no wire in the Netherton country.

The Silverton harriers are another old-fashioned
Devonshire pack, which were established as far back
as the end of the eighteenth century. Mr. T. Webber


had them for many years — 1863-1895 — and in his time
they were of that slate-grey and hare colouring, which
I have already mentioned elsewhere. The pack now
consists of sixteen and a half couples of twenty-inch
pure harriers, which hunt two days a week over a fine
grass country round Bradninch, where the kennels
are situate. The East Devon foxhounds hunt over
the portion of the county lying east of the river Culme.
Mr. John Rowell, of Bradninch, is Master and huntsman.
The South Molton — twelve couples of nineteen-inch
pure harriers, kennelled at South Molton — hunt over
a wild moorland country in North Devon and Somerset,
lying within the limits of the Exmoor and West Somer-
set foxhounds. The South Pool harriers (Mr. H, F.
Brunskill's) number twenty-four couples of nineteen-
inch harriers, which, with kennels at Buckland-Tout-
Saints, hunt three days a week a broken and varied
country within a radius of ten or twelve miles from
Kingsbridge. This country consists of mingled grass
and plough with some woodland. It is hilly, with
small enclosures, and is happily untroubled by wire.
No foxhounds hunt over the South Pool territory.
Mr. Sperling's, otherwise known as the Lamerton,
(eighteen couples of eighteen-inch pure harriers,)
kennelled at Lamerton, near Tavistock, hunt two days
a week over a wide and strong country, fortified by
big banks and walls, lying in West Devon and Corn-
wall, in the territory hunted over by the Lamerton
foxhounds. This country is mainly pasture and moor-
land, and wire is not obtrusive.

In Cornwall, to complete the tour of England proper,
are to be found three packs of harriers, hunting over
much of the wild, solitary moorland country of that
remote and beautiful extremity of this island. The
Fowey, with kennels at Par Moor, possess a very


wide territory along the northern coast line of the
county, thirty miles long by seven wide. This com-
prises pasture, plough, and some moorland. The
Four Burrow foxhounds hunt over a portion of this
country, which has little, if any, wire. The pack com-
prises thirteen couples of twenty-one-inch pure harriers,
which hunt two days a week. Mr. J. de C. Treffry,
the Master, is his own huntsman. Mr. Baron Leth-
bridge's harriers, a private pack, established by the
Master in 1888, carry on their operations in a fine
wild country, also in North Cornwall, comprising
much of the Bodmin and West Moors. Wire is said
to be, unfortunately, on the increase. The pack,
kennelled at Tregeare, Egloskerry, where the Master
resides, consists of eighteen couples of eighteen-inch
pure harriers, entered in the Stud-book. They hunt
two days a week, Mr. Lethbridge carrying the horn.
The Trethill is another Cornish pack, hunting in the
south-east of the county, between Rame Head and
St. German's, with kennels at Trethill, near St. German's.
Fifteen couples of seventeen-inch pure harriers com-
pose the pack, which hunt on Wednesdays and Satur-
days under the mastership of Major J. D. A. Roberts,
who owns the hounds and is his own huntsman. This
may be styled a foot-pack, and mounted followers
are not encouraged. The country comprises mostly
plough and pasture, with a portion of the fine Liskeard
moors and some big woods. It is hilly and enclosed
with high banks, and, unfortunately, a good deal of
barbed wire is to be found in places. Hares are plenti-
ful, especially near the large woodlands.

Here concludes my survey of English packs. I now
pass on to Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.



Wales as a hunting country — Anglesey — The Crick-
howell — The Mostyn and Talacre, a new pack — The
Plas Machynlleth, Lord Henry Vane Tempest's twin
pack — Mrs, Pryse-Rice, a lady huntsman — Irish
packs and their management — An ex-Master's varied
experiences — How to provide a gallop — Meath — The
Tara harriers — Mr. Dove on Irish hares — Various
packs — Sport in Clare — The Scarteen Beagles — A
black and tan pack — Curious history — The Kerry
beagle — Sunday hunts — Scottish packs


Wales, as I have said, has always been a good hare-
hunting, as it is a good otter-hunting, country ; and it
is a pleasure to find these two sports, as well as fox-
hunting, still flourishing there. Wire is, however,
a constant and an increasing trouble in many parts
of the Principality, and it will be probably found, in
the long run, that the small occupiers of Wales will
be more difficult to deal with in this respect than the
farmers and graziers of England, with their larger
holdings and wider views. Whatever the future
may have for mounted packs in Wales, foot-harriers
and beagles will, it is certain, find hunting-ground
there for many generations yet to come.

First in order among the Welsh harrier packs now
in existence, I take the Anglesey, which have a history

'i .


dating from about the year 1856, when the late Major
Hampton Lewis hunted part of the country. Since
1871 the pack has been a subscription one, hunting
nearly the whole of Anglesey. The country consists
of about two-thirds pasture and one-third plough.
Wire is somewhat of a difficulty. The pack, kennelled
at Tyndonan, Llangefni, consists of twenty couples
of cross-bred hounds (twenty-one-inch), some of
them entered in the harrier Stud-book. They
hunt two days a week, with an occasional by-day
after Christmas. Once a week a deer is hunted.
Mr. J. Rice, the present Master, has held office since
1891. The Brecon harriers have been in existence
some thirty-two years. They hunt both hare and
fox, taking the field twice a week. The pack, with
kennels at Brecon, consists of sixteen and a half couples
of cross-bred Stud-book harriers (nineteen and a half
to twenty and a half inch). These hounds hunt a
rough wild country, half moorland, the rest pasture
and plough. It is not considered a good scenting
country, and hares and foxes are alike stout, the foxes
notably so, holing in rocky fastnesses, which render
them hard to bring to hand. The pack is a subscription
one, and the subscriptions reach about £150 per annum.
The Crickhowell country consists of an area of about
eight square miles in the south of Brecknockshire.
Most of this is wild sheep-walk, with a small proportion
of grass and plough. There is not much wire. The
pack, a subscription one, comprises sixteen couples of
seventeen to eighteen-incli Stud-book harriers, which
are kennelled at Crickhowell, seven miles from Aber-
gavenny. Mr. J. A. Doyle has mastered the hounds
since 1889, having acted as joint Master from 1887 to
that year. This pack is hunted on foot. The Glany-
rafon are a private pack, established in 1863, and owned


and mastered by Mr. Edward Bennett, of Glany-
rafon, Llanidloes, Montgomeryshire. They number
eleven and a half couples of eighteen-inch pure harriers,
which hunt three days a week. The country consists
of " bleak hills, intersected by cultivated valleys."
Wire exists, but it is well marked. The country is
innocent of foxhounds. Mr. Lloyd Price's hounds,
which hunt in mid and northern Carmarthenshire,
have been in existence since 1853, when they were
established by the late Colonel Jones, of Velindre,
who hunted them for thirty-seven years. Upon the
death of Colonel Jones, in 1890, Mr. Lloyd Price bought
the hounds and has mastered and hunted them ever
since. The pack consists of seventeen couples of
eighteen-inch pure harriers, which are kennelled at
Bryn Cothi, Nantgaredig, South Wales, the residence
of the Master. They hunt two days a week. The
country comprises pasture, much moorland, a little
plough, and a considerable area of woodland. Hares,
which are very stout, are short in number, and wire
is unpleasantly abundant. Mr. Lloyd Price has
instituted a number of wickets, however, which allow
passage through the hateful obstacle.

The Merthyr Old Court is a small private pack of
Welsh harriers, seven couples in number, which hunt
twice a week from the Chase, Merthyr Tydvil, where
the Master, Major L. P. Jones, resides. The Mostyn
and Talacre is, I believe, a new pack, established at
the beginning of the season, 1902-3. Certainly it has
never before appeared in any harrier list. Lord
Mostyn and Sir Piers Mostyn are joint Masters, Lord
Mostyn carrying the horn. Thirteen and a half couples
of seventeen and a half to eighteen-inch harriers com-
pose the pack, which is kennelled at Mostyn Hall,
Mostyn, North Wales. The Mostyns have always


been a great hunting family. Sir Thomas Mostyn,
who hunted the Bicester and Warden Hill foxhounds
from 1800 to 1831, is still remembered in Warwick-
shire, Northants, and Oxfordshire, and the Masters
of this new Flintshire pack are pretty certain to provide
good sport in the country round Mostyn Hall. The
Plas Machynlleth is yet another private pack, hunting
in North Wales, and owned by Lord Henry Vane
Tempest. The hounds, numbering ten couples of
eighteen-inch pure-bred harriers, take the field twice
a week, with David Hughes as huntsman. The Plas
Machynlleth is chiefly a mountain country, with a
good deal of wall and fence to negotiate. It lies in
Montgomeryshire and Cardiganshire, and has an area
of some ten miles by five. A cob is described as the
best nag for the district, but the foot-hunter can usually
see almost as much of the sport as the mounted man.
Lord Henry Vane Tempest may be said to do his
duty manfully in the way of providing sport for his
neighbours. In addition to hunting hare on Tuesdays
and Fridays with this pack, he maintains a small pack
of ten couples of hounds which pursue the fox on
Mondays and Thursdays, the same huntsman officiating
with both packs.

Mr. Vaughan Pryse, of Bwlchbychan, Llanybyther,
South Wales, is one of the oldest supporters of harriers,
I suppose, in the Principality. Now in his eighty-third
year, he not only masters a pack of harriers, which he
established so far back as 1858, but hunts them himself,
and has done so for forty-three seasons. This is
something like enthusiasm for the noble science !
Mr. Vaughan Pryse's country, which lies in the shires
of Cardigan and Carmarthen, consists of pasture, plough,
and moorland. It has, unhappily, been of late years
sadly spoiled by wire and wire netting, which latter


is run along the tops of the banks. The pack consists
of twenty-three couples of eighteen and a half-inch
Stud-book harriers, which show only a remote cross
of the foxhound.

Mrs. Pryse-Rice, of Llwyn-y-brain, Llandovery,
who owns a pack of harriers in South Wales, is another
among the very few ladies in the kingdom, who not
only master but hunt their own hounds. Her country
lies in Carmarthenshire and Brecknockshire, and
consists of moor, pasture, and woodland, with a little
arable land. On the hills a good deal of wire is to be
found, but not much of it is barbed. Mrs. Pryse-Rice's
pack was established in 1894, when her husband gave
up fox-hunting. It consists of twenty couples of
twenty-inch Stud-book harriers, which hunt hare and
fox twice a week. This is a very smart pack, and
Mrs. Pryse-Rice has been frequently successful with
her hounds at Peterborough. Sport is good, the pack
is everywhere welcome, and although wire exists the
farmers will usually take it down when asked to do so.

Wales is a country of private packs, and the Roath
Court is yet another of those owned and maintained
entirely by the Master. These hounds hunt in
Glamorganshire, within the country hunted by Lord
Tredegar's and the Glamorgan foxhounds. Mr.
Charles Williams, of Roath Court, Cardiff, the Master,
established the pack as far back as 1862, and has
maintained them ever since. His hounds number
eighteen couples of twenty-inch cross-bred harriers,
which take the field two days a week.


In the Sister Island sport of every kind is pursued
even more enthusiastically than in this country, and

r \

i .A'


•2 Q
^ <

-> a,


from thirty to thirty-one packs of harriers are usually
in existence. Many of these packs are as smart and
as workmanlike as the best of those on the eastern
side of St. George's Channel, but here and there, in
remote parts, you may still chance to light upon queer,
go-as-you-please establishments, which remind one
that the ways and customs so humorously described
by Charles Lever and Miss Edgeworth are not quite
extinct. Reduced gentlemen and squireens, whose
packs are not recorded in Baily's or the " Field " Hound
List, still keep a few couples of hounds, and entertain
their guests with impromptu hunts, very much after
the fashion of Sir Harry Scattercash, in " Sponge's
Sporting Tour," in pursuit of fox, hare, or any other
kind of quarry that may be found available.

I was talking with a friend, no great while since, on
the subject of kennel and hound management among
harrier packs in Ireland. " Don't pry too closely
into these things," he replied ; " I have known packs
of harriers which thought themselves well housed in
a ruined stable, and where the hounds scavenged for
their food just wherever they could pick it up."
That is, of course, a libel upon most of the Irish packs
of harriers, but still it is undoubted that, whether in
fox-hunting or in the chase of the hare, things are not
always conducted in quite so orthodox a fashion as
we are accustomed to over here. For one thing it is
the custom of the country, and for another money is
not so plentiful. Even in England and Wales, some
of the smaller packs of harriers, and foxhounds, too,
are not always managed on the grand scale. It is
impossible that they should be.

I have, among the correspondence I have acquired
during the preparation of this volume, some notes by
a gentleman — one of the best all-round sportsmen


I have ever met — who has in his time tested every
phase of sport in Ireland, and an extract may, perhaps,
give some idea of the more unorthodox methods I have
hinted at. " I have forgotten," he says, " the year

I took over the harriers, but it must have been

about 1873 or 1874. I absolutely knew nothing about
hounds at the time, but I was talked into it by men
who didn't care a rap what sort of master they had,
so long as they got some one to keep the thing going
for the £100 a year which was promised. The first
pack I got together were composed principally of an
extremely nondescript lot I bought from a man at
Longford who shall be nameless. They had evidently
been used to run drag, and were a wild, quarrelsome
lot of brutes. Added to these, drafts from two or
three kennels made up a pack which only an igno-
ramus like myself would have fed for two days. How
I got through that season I don't know, but I hope
my subscribers liked it ! Next season I made a
somewhat better effort and bought a pack from a
Mr. Blennerhassett, from somewhere in Kerry. There
were really some very nice hounds in this lot, more
than a half being a sort of badger-pied, evidently a
cross with the Kerry beagle ; but they were really
good hunters, and I managed to account for a good
many hares with them before parting with the hounds
three years later. After an interval of two seasons
I again took the hounds, but as the late master had
not kept them up in any sort of way I shot most of
them and started afresh. This time I went in for
small foxhounds, getting them chiefly from the Duke
of Buccleugh's pack and the Fife, then in the hands of
Capt. Anstruther Thomson.

" For some seasons I got some very handsome
under-sized hounds from the latter and had with them


really very fair sport ; and as we were always pre-
pared, as some sporting correspondent says, to hunt
anything, from an elephant to a flea, we had some
rather curious experiences. One of the most amusing
hunts we had was after a greyhound, on whose line I
clapped the pack ; the dog made a point for home
and saved his scut by getting to ground in his master's
cabin. I don't know if I am wise in telling you how
I arranged some very good sport with dogs ? When
I wanted a good gallop, which was not very seldom,
I either got a dog hired, or sometimes, when the owner
was obdurate, borrowed one from some four or five
miles away from where we wanted a hunt. The dog
was taken across country to the meet, put into a sack
in which ferrets had been lying for a week or so.
He was kept thus for, say, half an hour, pretty well
frightened, then turned out at the appointed time in
some wood close by, and after letting him get a fair
start, I used to draw the wood for a fox. It was quite
wonderful how and with what speed the dog used to
make his way home ; he seemed to avoid human
beings, and it was difficult for any one not in the know
to believe they were not hunting a fox. I used to
teU the field we were sure to find in that particular
wood, and my prophecy on these occasions always
came off triumphantly."

I do not publish these " Experiences of an Irish
M.H." by any means as holding them up for imita-
tion by embryo masters of hounds, but as a picture
of what still goes on in the Sister Isle, and perhaps
even elsewhere nearer home occasionally. These
were, after all, the ebullitions of high spirits and hot
youth, and my correspondent would himself be now
the first to repudiate their encouragement. But,
after all, " bagged dog " is little worse than " bagged


fox," which is, to this hour, by no means an unknown
quantity, even among solemn and reputable English

Turning to more serious hunting matters, we find
County Meath, the home of the finest fox-hunting in
Ireland — some say in the world — supporting also
three packs of harriers. Of these the Ballymacad
hunt from kennels at Crossdrum, Old Castle, the resi-
dence of the Master and huntsman, Mr. E. Rotheram.
Twenty-two couples of twenty-two-inch fox-hounds
form the strength of this subscription pack, which
hunts two days a week over a wall and ditch country
situate in Meath, West Meath, and Cavan. Although
classed as a harrier pack, I understand that the Bally-
macad have obtained leave from the Meath Hunt
to draw certain of their coverts, and now hunt chiefly
fox. The Drewstown, kennelled at Drewstown, Kells,
is another Meath pack, owned by Mr. G. B. McVeagh,
who himself hunts them two days a week. The
hounds consist of fourteen and a half couples of pure,
old-fashioned, eighteen-inch harriers. They are, I
am informed, an extremely nice lot of hounds, light
and very fast. The country is a very good one, con-
sisting almost entirely of grass, and extending west-
ward beyond Meath into West Meath, and ranging in
Meath itself from Kells close up to Navan. The Tara
is the third pack of harriers in Meath. These hunt
a fine grass country for about ten miles round about
Tara, Dunsany and Navan. The kennels are at
Dunsany Castle, the residence of the present Master,
Lord Dunsany, who took over the hounds from Mr.
W. Hope Johnstone last season. The pack consists
of fifteen couples of nineteen-inch pure harriers, the
majority of which are entered in the Harrier and Beagle
Stud-book. This is a subscription pack, hunting two


days a week. Lord Dunsany hunts his own hounds.
Mr. William Dove, a first-rate, all-round sportsman,
with whom I hunted big game in South Africa some
years ago, was Master of the Tara harriers from 1898
to 1900, having some years before that mastered the
South Mayo harriers. In both cases he hunted his
own hounds. He has sent me some notes on hare-
hunting in Meath, which I think worth printing, as
throwing a good deal of light on the character of the
Irish hare. Meath, apparently, is nothing like so good
a harrier as it is a fox-hunting country. Before his
time the pack was mastered by Mr. G. V. Briscoe, of
Bellinter, and was known as the Bellinter. Mr.
Briscoe himself was a first-rate man with harriers,
and could kiU a hare as handsomely as any huntsman.
When Mr. Dove took over the hounds, he formed a
new pack, which was called the Tara. " I bought,"
he says, " some Stud-book harriers from Mr. Doyne
of Wells, in Wexford, whose hounds have been in his
family for many years and have been bred from packs
such as Lord Hopetoun's, the Anglesey, etc. . . .
I also bought drafts from the Aspull and Boddington
packs, and altogether got together a very fine-looking
lot. Mr. Henry Thomson, of Newry, kindly lent me
his pack, so that I was really too fuU of hounds. We
had very good sport, though I did not kill many hares,
but that does not appear to be uncommon in Meath.
As far as my recollection serves me — (this note was
written from abroad) — fourteen brace of hares was
about the best season I have known with the Tara
harriers. Why this should be I don't know, but hares
are, as a rule, bad, and dodge in and out of the big
fences. A good hare was generally killed. There is
a curious difference between a hare that has been
hunted in Meath and one in the more open country


in the west ; the latter gets away smartly and keeps
going, but the Meath hare runs to the first fence,
dodges in and out, and seldom goes two fields away.
Though we stuck as much as possible to the legitimate
game, yet we came across a number of outlying foxes
and had some fair runs ; but as, of course, the country
was not stopped they generally went soon to ground."
An outlying deer was also occasionally hunted by these

County Dublin supports two packs, Mr. Brooke's
and the Fingal. Mr. G. F. Brooke's pack, kennelled
at Summerton, Castlenock, the residence of the Master,
muster sixteen couples of twenty-and-a-half-inch Stud-
book harriers, which hunt two days a week. The
country, which lies in the Meath and Kildare Hunt
territories, is a big one, extending from the Dublin
Hills to Dunboyne, and from Dublin to Kilcock.
Pasture and plough occupy three-fourths of the
country, the rest being moorland. The Fingal, with
kennels at Whitestown, Balbriggan, number sixteen
couples of twenty-inch cross-bred hounds, hunting
two days a week. Mr. R. T. Woods has been Master
since 1881, with a subscription. The country, con-
sisting mainly of pasture, lies in the north of County
Dublin and the southern part of Meath. The Louth
foxhounds hunt over this region.

Clare is another Irish county which boasts two
packs of harriers. The Clare hounds, mastered by
Mrs. Stacpoole, of Eden Vale, Ennis, have been more
or less connected with this family since 1867, when the
late Mr. Richard Stacpoole started them. He hunted
these harriers until 1879-80, when the Land League
stopped hunting over a great part of Ireland. The pack,
consisting of eighteen couples of twenty-inch cross-
bred harriers, is now hunted by Mr. R. J. Stacpoole,


son of the late Mr. R. Stacpoole. The country, Mr.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26