This year’s prestigious legacy award goes to a Huntsman who has dedicated his life to animals and nature and has passed that passion on to the next generation.
By Epp Wilson, MFH Belle Meade Hunt
Charles Montgomery was born to fox hunt!
Charles and I grew up together whipping-in to my father, Master James Wilson, at Belle Meade Hunt in Thomson, Georgia. From a young age, Charles worked on his family farm with his father, taking care of horses and cows. He and I spent many a day cutting trails for Belle Meade Hunt.
Charles started riding when he was 8, started whipping-in when he was 13 and earned his scarlet coat at age 14. He has been a hunt professional, either a whipper-in or huntsman – for 43 seasons. He has worn scarlet for 47 seasons. In addition to Belle Meade, Charles also served with Mecklenburg Hounds, Shakerag Hounds, Whiskey Road Fox Hounds, Live Oak Hounds, Full Cry Hounds, Deep Run Hunt, Bull Run Hunt and is presently, at the Mells Fox Hounds, where he is both huntsman and MFH.
At an early age, Charles really “got it” in regard to hunting. One afternoon when he was 16, he and I were riding along Stage Coach Road in my pickup, heading out to cut a trail. We passed landowner, James McCorkle, and his helper, Pete Lowe. They were building a three-board fence along the front of the McCorkle property. The posts were already in the ground. They had just started putting the boards up. It was a hot day. Mr. McCorkle and his helper were both advanced in years. After passing them, Charles and I looked at each other, then discussed what we should do. Should we go on and cut the trail like my father had told us to do? Or should we go back and help Mr. McCorkle? We both thought we should go back and help. We didn’t know Mr. McCorkle well at all, but we knew who he was. We knew he was a landowner, and we knew he could use some help. We spent the whole afternoon helping Mr. McCorkle and his helper put up that fence. Charles and I were already good at building fences. We had learned that from our fathers on our family farms. We built 400 feet of fence that afternoon. More importantly, we built a relationship – a lifelong relationship with a landowner and neighbor. Mr. and Mrs. McCorkle remained very good friends with us until they passed away. My point is, Charles understood at an early age that the opportunity to help a landowner was a high priority.
After Charles graduated from college, he tried his hand at real estate sales. He learned it was not his cup of tea, so he made hunting his profession.
Along the way he got a lot of help from a lot of people. Marty Wood, MFH, Live Oak is probably at the top of the list. Marty helped guide Charles on bloodlines and showing hounds and venery and so many other things related to hunting. Charles is a gifted hound man in every way, including breeding and showing. He won 4 Grand Championships at the Virginia Hound Show when he was at Live Oak Hounds.
Throughout his career, Charles has been an avid proponent of and participant in Hound Performance Trials. Charles Montgomery and Tony Leahy have probably served as guest huntsman at more performance trials than anyone else. Charles served on my Performance Trial Committee from the very beginning. He has made many good suggestions and helped fine turn the rules over the years. Also, helping make the PT’s better, more accurate and always focused on the goals of 1) providing a way to compare hounds in the hunt field and 2) to have fun!
Of course, he could not have been so successful without his lovely and talented wife, Boo. Boo is also gifted with horses and hounds. Together, they are a force to be reckoned with!
Congratulations on your achievements and years of service.
Charles received the Ian Milne Award on Saturday evening May 27th, 2023 at Morven Park, Leesburg.