Driving up towards the hound truck onecould already hear the soulful, yet exuberant voices of Huntsman andJt-Master Eva Smithwick’s pack of Penn-MaryDel hounds bursting to getout.

A very eager group of juniors, futureand current foxhunters, gathered Saturday morning, August 6, to meetand learn about this very special type of foxhound. Marion Chungo,organizer of the clinic and of the Junior North American Field HunterChampionship this fall, hosted the gathering at Jt-Master GreggRyan’s Creekside Farm.

“You can’t tell a book by itscover” Eva explained before letting out the hounds. “Thefirst criteria is the nose: the ability to find scent. Second comesvoice, next is conformation.” Penn-MaryDel’s are “known tohave a very sensitive, yet tenacious nose” Kennel Huntsman GaleCayce added, and “will stay in an area longer than some thinkworthy of the time. On a bad scenting day, they may pick up a linewhere others were unsuccessful, and when they do, hold on!”

The PMD’s pendulous set of ears, longenough to touch the tip of their nose, is perhaps the most obviouscharacteristic of the type, second to their deep, melodious voice.PMD’s are well suited for the hunt’s territory that includes lowlying, swampy areas. Commonly smaller and lighter than American orEnglish, they’re strong enough to get through trappy ground yetsofter and biddable to keep within the boundaries of the day’s hunt.

Whipper-in Dr. Kathy Broaddus helpedkeep a tight pack with her commands, and several youngsters chimed into repeat them: “pack up!” “back to her!” Afteran hour’s walk up the road, stopping occasionally to rest, wereturned to watch the pack take a welcome respite from the morningheat in a large pond nearby.

Cooling off was the order of the dayand after listening to a few last comments from the staff, andgetting quizzed on important points, the juniors were presented witha St. Hubert medal from Katrina Bills to wear on their next hunt. Thehounds were loaded up and the goodies brought by some of the parentswere quickly devoured.

Marion announced that The Junior NorthAmerican Field Hunter Championship’s qualifying hunts will be held in12 states this September and October. The finals will be held Sunday,October 23, in Lexington, Kentucky, and hosted by Iroquois Hunt. Fordetails, visit www.JNAFHC.com.