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Foxhunting Glossary

    Autumn Hunting - Very early in the year when hounds first start hunting. Young hounds are learning to hunt; older hounds are getting conditioned; young foxes are learning to evade hounds; and horses and riders are getting in shape. It is a time when hunt attire is rat catcher and the hunt usually doesn’t stay out as long for fear of exhausting young hounds. Autumn used to be called cub hunting or cubbing.

    All on - All hounds present and accounted for

    Away - When the quarry has left a cover and gone away; the hounds are gone away.

    Babbling - When hounds are giving voice or barking for no good reason. It could be nothing or the faint scent of the quarry too long gone to run. It is not good because it distracts other hounds from working to find the prey.

    Back - When the quarry heads back to where it came from, Tally-ho back; if the hounds come out going the wrong way, the term is “hark back.”

    Biddability - The hounds’ desire to please and willingness to be controlled.

    Billet - The excrement of the fox, which is distinguished from all other, by the fur of rabbits, which is nearly always to be seen in it. It is always very dark.

    Blooding - A tradition going back to ancient times where the blood of an animal that was killed is smeared on a person’s forehead and cheeks. The practice was done only on people who experienced their first kill on a hunt. It is significant to honor the dead animal. Some hunts still blood people who request it. The MFHA does not recommend it because too many people don’t understand why it’s done. It does not however forbid it.

    Burst - The first part of a run out of cover, if quick, is called a sharp burst.

    Burning Scent - The English definition is when hounds run almost mute, owing to the strength of the scent. An American definition is when scent is where hounds can carry the line without putting their noses down and the cry turns to a roar as they gain on their quarry.

    Buttons - Hunt buttons are awarded with hunt colors. Each button has the logo of the hunt engraved on it. Hunt buttons are only worn with formal attire.

    Cast - When the huntsman sends hounds into a cover or brings them together and then sends them another direction, he is said to be casting his hounds.

    Challenge - When drawing for a fox, the first hound, which throws his tongue, is a challenge.

    Check - When hounds in chase stop for want of scent, or have overrun it.

    Colors - TEvery hunt has their particular color. This color is worn on their collar and lapel when wearing scarlet. When hunting in formal attire riders have either scarlet or black coats, but the colors on their collar are always the same. Only members who have been awarded colors can wear that color on their coats. Members without colors must wear a plain black coat. When a member has been awarded their colors it is considered an honor acknowledging them as full status members of the hunt. Once awarded colors they must wear hunt buttons on any coat with colors.

    Country - The area where a pack of hounds operates.

    Couple - Two hounds (any sex). Hounds are always counted in couples.

    Covert - PThe cover where the hounds look for the quarry. It can be: heavy brush, thick grass, woods, or anything that requires the hounds search through it.

    Cry - The sound given by hounds when hunting

    Cub Hunting - Hunting early in the season. A period where hounds go out very early. Young hounds learn to chase the quarry and young quarry learn to get away from hounds. Usually very short early morning hunts in informal attire. In the early days in England, it referred to a time they would try to cull young fox populations early in the season.

    Drawing - When hounds are working a covert or an area they are said to be drawing it.

    Drafted - When hounds are given to another hunt they are drafted.

    Drag - The scent left by the footsteps of the fox or coyote. Also the scent left from a lure dragged on the ground for hounds to follow simulating a live fox in a drag hunt.

    Earth - Where a fox goes to ground for protection - a den

    Entered Hound - A hound which has been hunted for one season or more. During his first season of hunting a hound may be referred to as an unentered hound

    Field - The group of members and guests, excluding the MFH and staff, gathered to follow hounds on any particular day

    Field Master - The person who is responsible for the field while out hunting

    Field Secretary - The person a hunt designates who when people arrive at the meet collects caps, gets waivers signed and directs parking is sometimes called the field secretary.

    Fixture Card - The printed schedule of hunt meets, listing times and locations

    Full Cry - When the whole pack is running hard after the quarry and throwing or giving tongue.

    Gone to Ground - When a fox or coyote goes into a natural earth, hole or drain.

    Hold Hard - "Stop please"

    Honor - One hound honors another when he gives tongue on a line that another hound has been hunting

    Hunt Whip - Consists of a crop and lash specifically for mounted hunting. Only staff are allowed to use around hounds and is seldom if ever used to hit them. It can be cracked to get hounds heads up or shown to get a hound to move in a particular direction. Field members can carry a hunting whip, but it is only used if they are asked to help whip-in, to open gates or pick up something that has dropped.

    Huntsman - The person who hunts hounds and is responsible for the care, breeding, and training of the hounds

    Lark - Jumping fences unnecessarily when hounds are not running

    Mask - A fox's head

    Master - This almost always refers to the Master of Foxhounds (MFH), the person responsible for the hunting and the organization of the country

    Open - When a hound first gives tongue on a line

    Panel - A jump built into a fence line specifically for foxhunting

    Pinks - A term used to describe the red or scarlet hunt coat. Originated from a fable of a tailor whose last name was Mr. Pinque who supposedly made the first red hunt coats. People started calling red coats pinks after the tailor and it caught on. Maybe this came about because some red coats bleach out to pink after enough use or it was a name dropping trend for those in the know. The correct term is red or scarlet.

    Point - Straight line distance made good in a run

    Ratcatcher - Informal hunting attire, correct for cubbing or weekday hunting

    Reaching - Reaching means hounds reach forward well ahead of the huntsman, looking for their fox. The term can also be used when describing hounds’ action at a check. Once hounds have lost at the check, they should fan out and reach well forward, covering large areas.

    Riot - When hounds hunt anything besides intended quarry it is called riot; the rate used is “Ware riot”.

    Scarlets - Formal function attire. Individual hunt colors are worn on the collar and lapel. Scarlets are traditionally a swallow tail. It is traditional that ladies wear black or white gowns at formal hunt functions like a ball or dinner.

    Scent - The smell of a fox and the physical and chemical phenomena by which the smell gets from the fox’s footprints to the hound’s nose

    Speak - When a hound smells the scent, it is sometimes said such a hound speaks to it.

    Staff - The Huntsman and Whippers-In

    Stern - The hound's tail

    Tally ho - The halloo when anyone sees the quarry, and only then; if desirable to halloa it loudly. Field members do not use tally ho or halloa when riding the field. They report the sighting to the Masters.

    Territory - The area officially designated by the MFHA where a hunt is allowed to operate

    Ware - Shortened form of beware. To take note of something you need to avoid. Usually ware hound, ware wire, ware hole.

    Whipper-In - The staff members who assist the huntsman with discipline and behavior of hounds in the hunt field

For more, see the Introduction to Foxhunting Guide by Dennis Foster

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