This years Joint Hunt was held in the beautiful, seemingly endless Flint Hills of Kansas. Several NHH members traveled south to support Huntsman David Kruger, whipper-in Bre O and our NHH hounds as they hunted on Friday at Pilgrim Ranch: MFH Dave K, Rebecca F, MFH Monte and Diane A, Nancy E, Deb Robinson, Brit V, Adam G, Holly Barrett, Jay and Camie S, Jubilee M and I. MFH Luke M and Blaire B came down Saturday.
The Flint Hills are quite beautiful, with nary a tree in sight-other than around the banks of the creeks that run through these grasslands. The footing changes from grasslands to sharp, shale rock, to huge flat rocks, rocky dried out river beds and back to grasslands, with a scattering of ditches. One has to pay close attention as you gallop across these fields.
There were about 30 riders in the field as Huntsman Dave led our small, but intense pack of hounds across the shallow river and into a patch of timber. This would be the one and only forested area we would see. The hounds opened in full cry almost immediately and as fast as the wind fly through the trees acorss the rocks and vaporize over the hills. Huntsman Dave and the whips-MFH Dave K, Bre O, Nancy E, Brit V were hampered by the vast amount of rock and shale that made fast pursuit impossible. The last visual that Huntsman Dave had was the hounds flying through a draw. We rode for 10 miles looking and calling for them, to no avail. The vastness of this area, now becomes quite daunting. All of the hounds have a tracking collar on, generously donated by Lyse S and Tom L. Thus began an 18 hour search for the missing hounds. Huntsman Dave and Bre searched till about 10 pm that night, went back out at 6 am on Saturday and around 1:00 found one hound, Huntsman Dave went out on foot and after about 3 hours found 8 more. Their paws were so sore from the rocks that they were limping and needed to lay down and rest multiple times-until a coyote jumped up and suddenly-it’s a MIRACLE, they’re healed-as they run in hard pursuit of the coyote. They have a loss and come back to Huntsman Dave (limping, of course) and they start home. ANOTHER coyote jumps up-Huntsman Dave shoots his pistol, making his point that they need to cease and desist and limp home.
In the meantime we have finished hunting for the day, I have kept in contact with Bre and she has given us their location. MVH Huntsman Jim Beisel knows where this place is and jumps in the truck with Jubilee and me. We arrive to find the landowners and Bre in the hound trailer with K. He is exhausted and very cold. The landowners have brought a propane heater into the trailer. With permission from the landowners, Jubilee and I mount up and head back into the fields to try and find Huntsman Dave and to hopefully help him keep the hounds off coyotes and back to the trailer. We don’t have far to go and we see him walking over the hill with the hounds. He’s wet, cold, tired and dedicated. He wants his hounds home and safe and after getting them all back in the trailer, there are only 2 more hounds missing. Adam and Brit have arrived and are treating K. He’s sitting up and looking chipper! I don’t know the landowners, but they were so kind, helpful and generous with their 4-wheeler, their propane tank and their time.
Sunday morning they found Ollie, scared, hungry and cold, but otherwise good. One hound is still missing, but he has his collar on, all the local authorites have been contacted and MVH Huntsman Jim B said when he is found, he would keep him until we can come pick him.
Saturday Misson Valley was our hosting hunt and we hunted from Cottonwood Ranch. Huntsman Jim B is taking his hounds out. The hounds are working hard, it’s windy, dry and tough to find game. Another gigantic ranch with miles and miles of available hunting. We viewed one coyote and had a brief chase. It’s such beautiful country and the pictures don’t do the country justice. I was riding Harley and since he has a rather LARGE bubble, we rode off by ourselves and watched the hounds work. We returned to a another satisfying brunch. We covered about 10 miles (thank you Diane A for having your Map My Tracks app on)
Later that night-as if we didn’t have enough to eat-we gathered at the Division Ranch to eat another huge meal. It was super fun to talk with all sorts of people =)
At our super fun and fabulous ball this year I bid on a ride with the FLH Huntsman, Steven Thomas. Best $65 I’ve spent! I met up with Huntsman Steve as he was releasing the hounds, he had sent his whips on ahead to be in position should the hounds roust up a coyote. He has one whip and me. A horse breaks his halter and is running around the field, so while they try to catch the horse, the hounds are anxious and wanting to go. The whip and I are trying to keep the hounds together. Huntsman Steve decides he can’t wait any longer and we head out. The hounds settle down, the horse is caught and the field catches up to us. It is SO FUN to be up there with the hounds. They’re game and ready to hunt. I enjoy listening to Huntsman Steve talking to the hounds and encouraging them. A whip comes on the radio and said that 2 hounds have opened up hard on a hot line and should she stop them? As he’s talking to the whip I see a coyote sneeking up the hill. I start stuttering and fumbling for words-egads, what a bad time to start stuttering!!! Finally I strangle out ‘Tally Ho!’ to Huntsman Steve. I point and he doesn’t see it in time as it scurries over the top of the hill. He asks me if I’m sure and I have to reflect quickly on the turkey that I tally ho’d and the hound Havoc that I viewed in Burwell and screamed Tally Ho at the top of my voice. I squelch those bad thoughts and I’m convinced that I’m right. Thank goodness the hounds honor me and start speaking right where I saw the coyote. We take off and we can see the hounds streaming out ahead of us. A whip gets a gate-there aren’t any coops in this country, so the gates definitely slow us down. We keep galloping and Indie is bound and determined to pass the Huntsman, it is quite the battle to keep him behind. We finally have a loss, we can’t see the hounds anywhere. (I do view another coyote off on another hill) One of the whips has seen them heading south and we press on until we finally get to the whip. She has several hounds and Huntsman Steve starts blowing his horn and several more stragglers start returning. We hack to this hill where we have a whoopee wagon break. I really need to use the facilites, but there isn’t a tree in sight. I push the thought out of my head and hope I can make it till the end. We set off to the north with the wind at our backs, we’ll turn south and hunt home. Huntsman Steve will head down to some creek crossings and ponds and hopefully push out a coyote who might be having a drink. The hounds open up and give a us a good run, although brief. Nothing has been viewed and as the wind is picking up in speed, the temps are dropping, Huntsman Steve and MFH Bob Fullerton make the decision to return home. God has heard my prayers. My arms and legs have just about reached the end of thier strength. Indie is brave, fast, handy and nimble footed, but he has a mouth like a steel trap.
It has been so interesting to watch all three Huntsman hunt their hounds. All have hard hunting hounds and all were successful at finding coyotes. They each have their own style, hunting is their passion and they love their hounds. I didn’t notice or think about the field unless they were too loud. I didn’t realize how important it is for the field to be quiet. Being up there with the hounds is so exciting and all consuming. Huntsman Steve has invited me to come ride up with him again in the FLH home country and I’m going to take him up on his offer!
Huntsman Jim Beisle has also extended an offer for us to come back down and hunt with them in the Flint Hills! Huntsman Jim and his wife Carlie shared the hospitality of their home to Jubilee and I for the weekend and we had a great time staying with them.
This Saturday we are hunting at Persia and Sunday is Closing Hunt! Where did the season go?!?!
Carine, NHH Honorary Secretary