Hello and welcome back to the 2017-18 hunting season and what a start to the season! BOOM!
The season started back in May with hound walking, taking out new puppies and planning the hugely successful Safe Ride Program. The brainchild of Huntsman Dave and whipper-in Breanna O, it has brought in new members and helped current members with their horses and themselves to be physically and mentally safe this season.
Our first hunt of the season started on Thursday at MFH Luke and Sam Matranga’s lovely Burwell home. There were about 20 riders and we had three fields. Affiliate members Marcella Thacker-Norman and Ashley Tatum from Cloudline Hounds, TX and Huntsman Steve Thomas from Fort Leavenworth, KS made the long trip to enjoy the beauty and hospitality of Burwell.
Just before we start to hunt, I received a text from Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley that she isn’t coming. She has been married five days and is calling 911. Rick is having a heart attack. We take a moment to pray for Rick’s safety and strength for Jenny.
We started at 1:00 to give everyone a chance to get there without having to drive up Wednesday night. When we were in Burwell on September for a work day, we put in two new coops and two gates with one gate going in on the south side of the Matranga’s property. So instead of roading to our first coop about a half mile away, we just go their back yard, through the gate and we’re hunting! Pretty slick.
It was fairly hot and dry with the compulsory wind…..I was riding my friend/customer Aloma Moncrief’s new horse, Remi. She is a 17 hh percheron/TB cross. It is her first hunt and Aloma’s first hunt (let’s just break them in fast by hunting at Burwell ) and Aloma is riding Josie, so she’s in good hands. The pace is even, some trotting and cantering, with just a few coops. I’m good to my first two coops. We come to the third coop and it’s one that we replaced in September. Nice and easy, but you have to land and turn left. You can only go straight a couple of strides and then you would make a rapid descent into the canyons. Remi starts staring at the coop, so I start staring and stopped riding and voila-we have a stop at the coop. Bad riding on my part. Camie and Mary Lynn jumped and I followed. I gave a text book lesson on what NOT to do when riding to a coop!
Whipper-in Bre viewed that day, although the hounds weren’t in position to pick up the line. The hounds did work well and we came home with all hounds accounted for.
At this years Hunt ball we had some fun items auctioned off. Rebecca Fellman was in charge of the silent auction and it raised around$14,000-$16,000! (She’s accepting donations now) MFH Monte and Diane Antisdel offered their beautiful place at Table Rock Lake and Holly Barrett won that getaway. The pictures on Facebook looked liked it was fabulous fun. MFH Luke and Sam placed their home at Burwell up for auction and Vicky Krecek won that trip. Huntsman Dave and whipper-in Breanna came up with the idea of a ‘private hunt’. Beth Van Dyke and Keith Rohwer were the c0-hosts on that bid and I put my money in on that item. We won!
Thursday was the ‘private hunt’ and Beth had made t-shirts for all of us. We hunted at 11:00 from Packards. It was much cooler, without any wind to speak of and it was a banner day. We viewed and viewed and viewed and viewed and viewed! The hounds couldn’t put anything together, so it was a bummer, but still a fun day of riding. MFH Dave Keffeler was whipping in and he said over the radio that there was a coyote just over the hill from the field! Huntsman Dave collected the hounds and we rode up there – nothing. =( MFH Dave K and Becca F have stashed a truck loaded with cookies, muffins, beef rolls, beer, water & Tequila. We have a fun break and head off looking for more coyotes that we can chase. =)
We finally headed home after 3 hours of riding, we’re about .5 miles from the trailers and crossing over a barb wire fence that has been laying on the ground for about 5 years. We’ve crossed it countless times. Breanna’s horse catches his shoe on it and then his hind leg and starts kicking violently with his right hind, while struggling to stay up on his front end. Breanna tries to jump off to save herself, but ends up falling on her back and pelvis in the middle of a grass stickers. she was covered in them. She looked like a human porcupine. Her back – she has bulging discs and is planning for a back operation – is so very painful, as well as her pelvic/leg. Becca F brings a truck back and some clothes so she can change into something without a layer of stickers. Breanna spends the afternoon taking a hot shower and having Blair take stickers out of her while sitting in the Matranga’s hot tub.
Friday night is the Welcome Party at the rodeo grounds with food provided by the Sandstone Grill.
Saturday we (around 37 riders were in the field) gathered again at MFH Luke and Sam’s house. The opening stirrup was hosted by MFH Marcella. Steve Smith, his wife, and three boys came up from FLH to hunt with us. Huntsman Steve Thomas has been riding up front with our huntsman each day, enjoying the beautiful views and our hard working hounds.
We have three flights so everyone has a place to ride safely. Again we viewed. Bre is riding with Sam in the whoopee wagon and they viewed. I think someone else did, too? We had a fabulous, fun run. Up and down the hills, over a couple of knarly coops. It was So. Much. Fun!
Huntsman Dave gathered all the hounds and we returned home to beef and noodles!
Saturday night we had a party at Matranga’s with all the delicious food from the Sandstone. It was great fun talking with everyone, enjoying all the food and telling tales from past hunts.
Sunday is our last day of hunting and we’re hunting from Packards. It’s big, beautiful country with huge rolling hills and canyons. Huntsman Dave took us to these canyons that I haven’t seen in years. I’m wearing my GoPro and as we are riding along I’m feeling like something is about to happen. I turn my GoPro on and start looking around. I’ve been riding behind Huntsman Dave for awhile now and I can pick up his nuances. I see him start moving, taking his whip off his neck, getting faster and faster. I start galloping and I’m turning my head trying to hear the hounds. I can’t hear anything, Huntsman Dave isn’t blowing his horn. I can see the hounds running and opening their mouths, so they’re voicing, but it’s so windy I can’t hear anything. Huntsman Dave has a stag hound, Benado, that trots along behind him all the time. I think he’s just there to get exercise, I’ve never seen him do anything. We are racing to the top of this giant hill and I see Huntman Dave make this scooping motion with his arm and Benado takes off and never in my life have I seen a dog run so fast!! He’s chasing hard on a coyote! We have these wonderful, fantastic, absolutely necessary GPS collars on some of the hounds. (THANK YOU Mary Curran for all the money raised at the Puppy Palooza this year! It bought 5 GPS collars ) Benado was clocked at 41 mph!
Ozzie went 25 mph, Foxy 28, Lyse 21 and Kracken 20. They also traveled between 38-45 miles over the four days of hunting. We averaged about 10 miles a day, according to my GPS. My butt was screaming on the fourth day….
My two picks for Riders of the Weekend is Aloma Moncrief and Alison Osborne. It was their first hunt(s) and they rode first flight! Jumped everything, galloped up hill and down hill-all with a huge grin on their faces! Congratulations on some great riding!
We returned to the trailers for a box lunch provided by the Sandstone.
Huntsman Dave and Breanna have put in countless hours cleaning the kennels, walking hounds, caring for the horses, caring for the hounds, keeping the property in great condition. They also do landowner relations, welcome all the new members, write thank you notes and work in the countries on coops and gates.
This particular hunt weekend was so exhilarating and fulfilling for them after the devastating loss of about half of the pack with Leishmaniasis. To see the hounds that they bred and raised be so honest and true was a great thing!
I’m so proud of our Huntsman and our staff! We couldn’t have had this much fun without all the work you did this summer and early fall. Huntsman Dave, whipper-ins: MFH Dave Keffeler, Bre Osborne, Nancy Evans, Brit Vegas-Gengenbach, Jubilee Miller, Keith Rohwer