The Hounds
Giving people something to talk about for over 3000 years
Gambler assuring us that despite popular belief, he can track the fox in deep water.
Taru and Bunter are off to the foxes in a wild and muddy chase!!
So this year for Christmas we decided that we are going to
stay here in the big house and you can stay out in the
kennels…and of course Turkey and stuffing for all
the hounds!!!!
Edmund Taylor MFH and William Kingman (Field Master) crossing the Otter River in Royalston.
Entrance to new kennels in Royalston
Hounds in “Full Cry”
A Bit of the History Behind Hounds and Hunting
All dogs are direct descendents of wolves. However it was the wolf that found man and used him first not the other way round. Enterprising wolves noticed that humans left quite a few tasty pickings strewn around and decided that they must have been worth tagging along after. Some probably ventured closer to the camp and over time tamer wolves were domesticated.
The wolf had two traits that were very useful to early man (1) he could hunt and (2) he could herd   and so evolved the first useful relationship between dog and man
The earliest use for dogs was as Herding and Flock Guardians and as Hunting Dogs these dogs were called Mastiffs or Alaunts
The Celts were on the rampage about 2000 B.C. they were the first tribe that we know of that made an attempt to breed dogs for type and particular characteristics. They used their fierce Alaunts to guard their wild cattle and they bred Mastiffs with great scenting ability. In 275 B.C. the Celts invaded Greece and sacked Delphi.   There they probably acquired dogs of the greyhound/afghan type who accompanied them on their conquest of Europe. Celtic taste in dogs ran to great speed and size, and these site hounds were crossed with the rangy Alaunts or Mastiffs even before the Celts reached Ireland, which was the furthest reaches of the Celtic migrations. The Romans found these dogs when they invaded Britain in the first centuries A.D. In a letter written to Flavius by his brother Symmacus in 393A.D. thanking him for sending him seven of these hounds he states "All Rome viewed them in wonder" ---this coming from the jaded citizenship who regularly saw men fighting bears and lions in the arena! The Irish dogs must have been imposing figures even then. They came in both smooth and rough coats. From Ireland's heroic age 2000B.C. to 200A.D., magnificent tales of these dogs abound from the Hound of Culann , the bitch Bran with her incredible speed and magical powers in Ireland to the Story of Gelert inWales. From records of the fifth century we know that dog breeding in Ireland was so organized and the dogs so valued, that merchants sold them abroad by the shipload and the majority of the dogs sold were of the wolfhound type and those cargoes probably contributed to the development of the hound breeds of Europe. 
The Romans wiped out the early Celts. Eventually only the tribes in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Breton existed. Today their majestic hounds the Irish Wolfhounds and the Scottish Deerhounds and their distinctive languages of Irish and Scots Gaelic, Welsh and Breton are their legacy to modern society.
The term Hound was first used in the middle ages to distinguish them from fighting dogs and domestic dogs.
The Middle Ages saw the start of breeding many different types of scent hounds. In the sixth century the Benedictine monks of St. Hubert developed the St Hubert hound. The story goes that St. Hubert son of the Duke of Aquitaine, was converted to Christianity while hunting on Good Friday, when he saw a stag with a gleaming cross rising between his antlers. He became Bishop of Liege, later he became a hermit and founded a monastery in the Ardennes region of Belgium where he kept a pack of hounds. He was canonized and became the patron saint of hunters. The monks' hounds were solid black as well as black and tan, medium sized, heavily built with a body a bit longer that high having heavy heads and deep flews. They were slow and methodical, they were noted for their melodious "voice" and incomparable deep scenting ability. This breed is the direct ancestor of today's Bloodhound and is the basis of many other hound breeds. The eighth century saw several variations of the St Hubert hound. A variety that was all white or some tricolor markings with a majority white body was called the Southern Hound, which was very common through to the sixteenth century. Although now extinct this breed is the foundation for many modern European hounds. The Gascon hound developed in the eleventh century traces back to the Southern hound. The Talbot hound was developed in the eighth century. This was a pied or liver variation of the St. Hubert hound. Early Dalmatians were often referred to as Talbots. The Hounds of Wolfhound Type in Wales fell upon hard times because they had been mostly in the care of the monasteries and used for hunting deer and other game. When Henry the VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries the enterprising monks smuggled their valuables, which apparently included their hounds to Benedictine monasteries on the European continent. The monks of Morgam Abbey in France continued to hunt and breed the Welsh hound essentially saving the breed. Hunting was becoming quite the rage in France and the French were passionate about it. Charles 1 in the Fifteenth Century confiscated 70 forests and 800 parks for the sole purpose of training the royal dogs.   Louis 1X planned his wars for the summer and fall leaving the winter free for stag and boar hunting. The French hounds are known for their beauty and grace, they have wonderful voices and are very deep scented. The French today have 26 different breeds of hounds. There are 105 different breeds of hounds in the world today. The United States of America with nineteen stains of foxhounds is second only to France.
Foxhunting became the rage in England in the Thirteenth Century. Fox and hare were plentiful and provided great fast sport. Scotland, Ireland and Wales however still had wolves, stag and boar. The English wanted to ride after their hounds and the St Hubert type was too slow so they made crosses to greyhounds and some terrier. This gave them a very tall and racy hound without the deep scenting, cold trailing ability of the French hound. With the Act of Enclosure when ditches and fences were put up to mark property boundary lines, the English simply added more size and speed to their hounds so that they could stay up with the equestrians now riding English Thoroughbreds and jumping everything in sight. By this time the English hound was purely hot nosed and would only run a fresh line of scent and no longer had the wonderful cry of the old European type hounds and the horse became much more the center of the hunt than the hound work. By the1800’s the English Foxhunt as we know it today was established, the English who are the masters of pageantry now developed a system orchestrated around riding at speed over fences across country. They had virtually a cast of a thousand managing this, huntsmen, masters, field masters whippers-in, kennel staff, earth stoppers, fence builders, grooms, second horsemen and terrier men. Based on old Norman laws only the aristocracy was allowed to own hounds, the ordinary citizenry was not permitted to hunt and if a commoner was caught owning a hound the dog would either be killed or have a couple of toes cut off so that he could not run.   Dog breeding has always greatly benefited by allowing the individual to develop his own strain of working dog for his particular type of conditions and requirements. As a result of this restriction the English have very few different breeds of foxhounds. It is still frowned upon for a private citizen to own a pack of foxhounds in the UK. These packs are referred to as "pirate packs".
Now returning to the French Hunting, they too developed their mounted packs however it never became fashionable to gallop and jump, probably because the thoroughbred horse was never as popular in France and also because quite a number of the French hunters traipse along on foot. The French also have a very different style of hunting. They do not cast a large pack of hounds ahead of the huntsman with the whips riding ahead on the flanks, they hunt the stag and boar so the terrier man and earth stoppers are not needed, they hardly ever get out of a trot so second horses etc. are not needed. French hunting uses the ancient system of tufting which is the same as the ancient Celts used. Tufting is similar to using a strike hound. A person on foot goes out ahead of the hunt with an experienced hound on a long leash, this hound cold trails and locates the line of the quarry, the Master, hounds and field are then summoned with a great deal of horn blowing and the hunt commences, French hunts usually last all day as the hounds cold trail with great cry all over the forest. There is no jumping or very little and second only to the cry of the hounds in importance is the extensive horn blowing describing every turn and twist of the game. In French hunting the horn is not used to convey signals to the hounds rather it is a story telling of the chase. The French hound not unlike the American Walker is very keen has tremendous drive and is very independent. He stays with the chase until there is a kill or until he is good and ready to come in. At the end of the hunt the field adjourns for a great feast and more horn blowing and revelry.  
 In the United States the early immigrants brought some hounds with them, mostly of the old French type these hounds were owned and hunted by individual citizens In the northern states they would hunt the game and shoot it and over the winter months they would collect enough pelts to sell them at the fur auctions (called rendezvous). The northern hunter counted on this money to help out with his income from his hardscrabble Farm. These early hunters developed many strains of fine hounds from the Black and Tans, Buckfields, Wild Goose, Cooks, Native New England hound to the purebred American Walker. Hunters in the southern States used the same types of big voiced trailing hounds and they too developed their own strains, Sugar Loaf, (aka Plummer), Hudspeths, Julys, Birdsong, Robertson, Arkansas Traveller, Thrumbo, Bywaters, Whitlock Shaggies and of course the mighty Walker. The southerner did not use a strike hound. He cast all his hounds at once, which he could do because he hunted on the same hill every night, and it was the same hill that his grand daddy and his great grand daddy had hunted on every night for the last century. He would light a fire and wait to hear the first thrilling notes from Ole Blue or Ole Duke or Old Smokey. The pack would pull to the speaking hound and the chase would go on all night or until the liquor ran out, or the fire died down or somebody remembered that he had to work in the morning. Then the hunters would head home and "Old Blue" would wander in whenever it suited him. In 1650 Robert Brooke brought hounds to Maryland. He brought some Kerry Beagles and some English hounds. This was the first organized foxhunt in the USA and this form of hunting quickly caught on with the well heeled in the east from South Carolina to New England. In 1907, Harry Worcester Smith and his cohorts founded the Masters of Foxhounds Association of America under the auspices of the parent association in Great Britain. The association had its offices in Boston. The MFHA is the governing body for all registered and recognized mounted foxhound packs and now is headquartered in Millwood, Virginia.
Harry Worcester Smith hunted his own pack the Grafton Hounds from 1903 to 1928.   The Groton Hunt was founded in 1922 when the Grafton hunt was disbanded in the 1928 the Groton Hunt took over the hunting in their country, The Groton Hunt disbanded in 1963 and several members founded the Nashoba Valley Hunt and continued hunting the same country.