Photography by JJ Massaro
A delightful and inviting blessing offered by the legendary Roger Leithead (ex-MFH of the OCHC) was more than enough to inspire our band of merry beaglers for the Opening Hunt on Sunday, October 4, 2015 at the Shaker Museum in Old Chatham. It was a perfectly picturesque fall afternoon and the temperatures were warm but not overwhelming as Jessica and Jack gathered hounds beneath the vintage Shaker Museum signage and welcomed a hearty Field of followers and guest. We then offered a moment of silence for our dearest friends who had passed.

Moments before our announcements concluded, an impressive trio of outriders rounded the corner impeccably attired. Francisco, Morgan and Taylor had trailered to the meet and were ready to ride wide and keep an eye on our assembled eight couple which included tried and true veterans like Zurich and Yueng-Ling and young entries including the easily recognizable Vigorous a.k.a.”Viggy” who was the only red & white hound in a kennel of tri-colors (black, tan and white) and the handsome Foreman (named after beagle great ‘Captain Foreman”.

We made the traditional cast behind the red barn buildings and it took a few moments longer than usual before hounds found the Shaker Museum cottontail that expertly cut and slalomed between the coverts, pulling more than one reverse. Our game shot through the open and Marje and Bob heartily ‘halloed!” just before our quarry took cover in a pile of logs.

Jim pressed the pack forward to the next draw along the defunct tennis court which included a cast into an orchard of overgrown buckthorn and crabapples. Hounds drew with exceeding patience through some tough brambles and made a few remarks which failed to produce a chase.

Jessica proceeded across Shaker Museum Road to the majestic Clark farm. We began alongside the greenhouse and as Jessica and Mimi munched and crunched on the delectable apples from some specimen of Malus (Malus=apple tree), hounds began to feather, fuss and finally convince the huntsman that there was something brewing beneath the briars.

Keen to any game movement, Jim halloed just as the brown and white beauty Zinnia struck up a line headed toward the cow paddocks. On the day of our Opening Hunt, hounds sensed they had an audience and were perhaps ‘over keen’ to impress their followers. As Jessica directed them to the line with the traditional OC ‘oodle’ they were a bit rambunctious and overran for the first 2 minutes. They settled as our game chose an easy and straight forward course along the paddock line to a stone wall. Our pack fell suddenly silent. Observing the reliable noses of the Smokey and Bastille, Jessica thought the game had gone to ground but a few pips beyond the wall made her wonder if our puss (rabbit) has not wriggled through the wall and gone on….?

Alas, to continue forth meant our Field could not follow and Jessica and Jim thought it prudent to re-collect the sweet sixteen and reverse back toward the Field. And in tow were a dozen head of cattle that had at first fled when our pack burst through the cover, but then, reclassified the intrusion as an interesting distraction and trotted alongside the huntsman and pack as we continued back toward the Clark home.

It was strangely natural how the humans, canines, bovines easily interacted until, alas, we encountered the wire fencing which brought our harmonious relationship to a close and the Bessie’s bid adieu to their beagle brethren.

We ducked and weaved through a few more wire enclosures to the main field behind the Clark’s residence. Wiggling and wriggling in an old rock foundation, dear Zinnia once again roused a rabbit from a tangle of tall weeds and jettisoned same across the farm road and into the adjacent hedge. This fellow went straight to ground and our pursuit ended quickly.

So we continued through the willow laden fields toward the sheep barns and then turned home toward the embankments behind the Clark’s home. The final cover certainly looked worthy, but did not produce any quarry.

Off we went to a splendid Tea atop the hill which was hosted by Tom & Nancy, Jef & Reggie, Jim &Nora and Barbara & Michael. It was a first class presentation including a traditional silver tea service, fantastic soup, salmon and full buffet of dinner and desserts-and of course, the best cheese in the country! And with such cooperative weather no one was in any hurry to head home. A great day and looked forward to the following Sunday for the Columbus Day meet at the Forer’s.

Jessica Anderson

Thanks to Jessica Anderson for this report on our 2015 Opening Day of Beagling and to the photographers above.  Submit photos to Cheryl for inclusion on this page.