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Leslie Granger | profile | all galleries >> Fox Hunting >> Foxhunting 08-09 Season >> Hunting at Coal Valley Saturday April 11th Western Challenge tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Hunting at Coal Valley Saturday April 11th Western Challenge

Hunting Saturday April 11th, 2009 – 10:00AM
B & N Ranch, McCune KS (Coal Valley Hunt)


We left rolled out of our barn near St. Louis at high noon in the pouring rain. Lei Ruckle and I took two of my homebred paints for the trip. We pulled them straight from the pasture and they were a muddy mess. Five hours later we pulled in to B& N Ranch.

We parked our trailer and Rachel Joyce kindly showed us where to put up the horses for the night. They went out together in a very roomy pipe pen. We got them some water and hay and gave them their evening grain. They were happy horses. We went into the clubhouse looking for a restroom and met the judges, Rob Kornacki and Susan Gentry. We also met Jeff Sandness who made us feel right at home. We went back to the trailer and spruced up a little (not a lot as the cocktail party was casual) and went back into the house. It was a great party with wine, beer, and snacks. We met Trevor Robinson, a local photographer and looked at some of his work, much of which was framed and on the walls. The hunt box was very cozy with great photos of the Coal Valley hunt with other equine bronzes and memorabilia as well as two mounted coyotes. We watched as Rachel and some of the others tried to bring the staff horses in from the pasture for the night. The pasture was huge and the Kornacki girls practicing their horn calls had stirred them up. It was quite the roundup, someone was out there trying to bring them in with a four wheeler and not having much luck. Finally they got them in.

We found out that MFH and huntsman Wes Sandness was in the hospital and that Rachel Joyce would be filling in for him. Rachel is a young lady about 25 with a quiet confidence about her. Very sweet and helpful to everyone. She is the kennel man paid by Coal Valley to take care of the hounds and normally whips in for Coal Valley.

As the evening went on we met folks from several hunts. As well as Coal Valley, there were folks from Ft. Leavenworth, Mission Valley, Misty River, Cloudline, Bridlespur and one from Shakerag. It was a very interesting group and tall tales were told of Foxhunting. The coyote that got away, hot info on hunt horses for sale, etc. One great character Tracy from Arkansas was very graphically relating her foxhunting adventures in Ireland. She was very entertaining. Trevor showed us more of his photos and some photo slide shows he had done. Rob Kornacki related some of his experiences on the tour. The most memorable to him was when a golden eagle swooped down and killed the hunted jackrabbit the day he was out with the Kingsbury Harriers.
It was a great party, everyone was very friendly. About 8:30 they brought in several locally made Pizzas. Until then I didn’t realize how hungry I was. The pizzas really hit the spot. We left for our hotel in Pittsburg, KS around 9:30pm eager to go hunting the next day.


Saturday morning.

Huntsman: Rachel Joyce

10 couple crossbred hounds

Judges: Rob Kornacki and Susan Gentry.

GPS readings 13.1 miles – average speed 4.0 mph. Max speed 26 mph. Total time 3 hrs 29 minutes.

The temperature went from 46 degrees when we started and warmed up to 64 degrees. The wind was from the East. Winds were at about 4-10 mph. Barometric pressure was rising until noon and then started falling.

We got to the fixture about two hours early. We knew we would need lots of time to clean our horses up, them being paints and all. Somehow they had found a load of cockleburs in their pen, adding to the challenge. They were also shedding terribly which made me realize why we don’t normally hunt this late in the year. But fortunately what was under the sheets was pretty clean. We finally had them looking respectable and mounted up. They had a nice stirrup cup to partake of while we were waiting. Announcements were made introducing Rachel and the field masters. Also introducing visiting masters from other hunts. There were 50-60 riders in all, I didn’t get them all counted, it was quite the turnout. Everyone was turned out well. There was an assortment of horses with a high percentage of draft crossbreds. There were also many Thoroughbreds and Quarter horse types in the field.

We moved out promptly at 10AM and headed west down the road past a crossroad, at the crossroad the hounds were sent south east following a shallow draw. Even though there was a coop there, the gates were opened by the car followers and we headed on in. She worked the hounds south of the road all over the area. It was mostly open with some covert at the bottom of the draws. The hounds had their noses down but moved fast on the open ground and we were trotting or cantering most of the time to keep up. No luck there so we crossed the road and into a cow pasture. We headed northwest following along Plum Creek. After drawing along Plum creek we headed north to Wier road and then into an area that was more heavily wooded. We jumped a couple of coops and shortly after that heard hounds speaking. These hounds were deep voiced and great to hear. We galloped along and saw a coyote burst out of the woods in front of Rachel headed west. Rachel gave a view halloo as did many members of the field. Rachel pulled up short of the line and blew her hounds to the line. There were no hounds on the line however, we could still hear them speaking in the woods but headed away from us. Lei said to me, "I’ll bet there were two coyotes." We heard the radio and then Rachel cheered and shouted “There’s another Coyote and the hounds are on it!”. Rachel galloped past us headed south and we quickly followed. The run started at 11:30 AM and went for 2.8 miles lasting 23 minutes. There were many times I was glad I had a breastplate to grab as we climbed some short but steep hills. We pulled up just short of 50th Road where car followers had seen the coyote cross. The coyote had gone out of the country. We stayed here about 15 minutes while Rachel praised her hounds and called more hounds to her. The field master called for people with whips to come help keep the hounds off the road so Lei went up with Floyd and helped. I stayed back and took some more photos.

From here we headed back west and worked a rather rugged area where we were riding on top of ridges with big dips in between. The terrain was a result of the coal mining there. There were quite a few trees here and you couldn’t see far. We came down from the ridge on to Wier road again after crossing through some rather deep water. The car followers were gathered there to photograph.

From here we jumped a little pipe gate and Rachel drew the other end of Plum creek back toward the Ranch house. From here we headed in.

We put our horses up and headed back to the Ranch house for a nice lunch of fried chicken, baked potatoes, and salad. We met some of the folks that we hadn’t met the night before. The weather was beautiful and we sat outside in the grass enjoying the sunshine.

Rob Kornacki called for a German Hunting song to be played. His two daughters played a nice tune on German hunt horns. Then Rob gave a little speech and talked about each of the hunts on the Western Challenge and his impressions. Jeff Sandness had dialed his father’s hospital room and was holding up the phone so his father could hear. Here are the highlights as I remember them.

1. Lynn Lloyd and Red Rock Hounds – Rob talked about what a legend to the sport Lynn is. How she feeds her hounds and the hounds come out as she calls each one by name. Lynn took over 60 hounds out for the Western Challeng.
2. Grand Canyon Hounds – It was mentioned how the country is mystical and magical and that you can see the South Rim of the canyon in the distance. The country has many unusual features and is beautiful.
3. Paradise Valley Beagles, Kingsbury Harriers – He talked about how well they worked together. And he again mentioned how they were trailing a big jackrabbit when a Golden Eagle swooped down and killed it. The eagle then when he saw the hounds approaching took off without the rabbit but that the hounds were not interested in the dead rabbit.
4. Casa Ladron – Santa Fe – I think this is the one he mentioned they started at 7:30AM to beat the heat. Sounded like they had a good hunt.
5. Arapahoe Hunt, Parker Colorado – Rob marveled and Marv Beeman still hunts the hounds at age 75 and is as spry and energetic as a much younger man. He said they trailed a coyote for 6.5 miles over difficult conditions. He was amazed at how the hounds had been specifically developed to deal with the difficult scenting conditions. It should be noted that this hunt was a demonstration and was not in the competition.
6. Coal Valley – McCune Kansas – He said the whips did a great job and when the coyotes split the pack did not split. He said Rachel did a good job of keeping the hounds together. Hounds were very biddable.

It sounded like all of the hunts were fabulous. Susan announced the winner was Coal Valley and everyone started screaming. It was really fabulous and Rachel was so excited and thanking her whips and everyone that helped. It was a true fairy tale moment. Rachel didn’t even know 24 hrs before that she would be hunting the hounds. When we pulled out with the horses a while later I think we could still hear the cheering in the Ranch house.

Oh, and our Kansas souvenir? We hit a turkey hen right before crossing back into Missouri and there are several feathers still stuck in the grill.
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