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The Hound Challenge

Source: Woodbrook Hunt Club (Pacific District)
Purpose: Fund raising; boosting member enthusiasm & hound awareness

How it Works:

The Hound Challenge is a competition to evaluate hounds in the Woodbrook pack and to engage members in the process. Members can bid on the opportunity to “own” a hound with the hope that it’s judged the best performing hound of the Woodbrook pack for the season. Woodbrook MFH Melody Fleckenstein describes the auction and competition as, “the single best thing we have done to promote the actual sport.” Not only is it a great fundraiser, but it boosts member enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, hound work. “We see people formerly not interested in hound work really get into it. They even be-come quieter in the field as they start concentrating on all facets of hunting! Some even come to recognize the voice of their hound.”

Woodbrook’s Honorary Huntsman Jennifer Hansen runs The Hound Challenge. She explains it starts with a fun social event where hounds are presented, and individual members and syndicates bid to “own” one or more hounds for the performance competitions. To build enthusiasm before the auction, descriptions of the hounds are posted to the hunt’s website. Hound owners have the pleasure of watching their hounds perform, during six or seven scored hunts.

Hounds are judged in the field by three guest judges, whippers-in, field masters and MFHs, with scores posted on-line within a week of each scored hunt. This builds excitement and suspense through the running of The Hound Challenge, not unlike following one’s favorite sports team. Hounds are judged on hunting, trailing, voice and marking. Before and during the Challenge, members are taught what the huntsman’s various horn calls tell the hounds. Fixture cards are sent in advance to alert members about which hunting days will include hound scoring.

At the end of the season, final scores are tabulated, and the best performing hound is announced along with its single, or collective “owners.” A photo of the winning hound and its proud owner is then added to a prominent wall plaque in the club house. No time limits are assigned to members’ hound-bragging rights!

For more information about this practice, contact the MFHA at 540-883-0883 or office@mfha.com.

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