Get away as quickly as ever you can with your fox, but if you have only a few hounds with you, stop them till the body comes up. If the body is tied to another fox, go back to it with the hounds you have got.
It is very often better and quicker to go and fetch your hounds than to stand blowing your horn and holloaing outside a covert. It is best to get up wind of them, blow them out, and then lay them on the line.
When hounds are running keep your eyes well forward to see what is likely to bring on a check and be prepared for it.
Watch your leading hounds and if you see them turn their heads, remember it, as if a check quickly follows and the field is pressing on them, that is very likely the place where he turned. The tail hounds will often tell you how far they have carried the line.
If you see a sheep dog or cur dog running back to where the hounds have thrown up, you may be pretty sure he has run your fox.
If once a fox turns down wind he rarely ever turns up again.
In hunting a fox, never be in a hurry and never dawdle. Remember a fox is always moving. Make up your mind what you have to do and do it quickly and quietly, and always remember what really is "forward," that is, what his point really is, and from which he has been driven from some cause or other, and which he is sure to make if he possibly can. This I think is especially the case in the spring, when there are travelling foxes, also after a long frost or snow.
Checks are brought about either by the scent failing, by the fox having been headed and driven off his line by something or other, by being run by a dog, or by the field having ridden the pack off the line.
Let your hounds alone, and never cast them till you see they cannot recover the line by themselves.
When you do cast them, cast them well in front of you. This is not so easy as it seems. Hounds and huntsman must have great mutual confidence in each other, and the huntsman must be free from all pressure from behind. The late Lord Willoughby de Broke and Tom Matthews had this power over their hounds to an extent I have never seen in others except old George Beers. On a good scenting day and on good scenting ground cast them quickly. On bad scenting days and bad scenting ground cast them more slowly.
The hounds nine times out of ten will have cast themselves up wind and have indicated by the way they swing themselves which way your fox turned ; but whether he turned to the right or to the left, it is almost a certainty that he turned down wind. If therefore they do not pick up the line by themselves, prolong their up wind unaided cast, just to satisfy yourself he has not gone up wind, and then cast them down wind without loss of time.
Make your casts wide enough and over the best scenting ground you can find.
Remember your fox may have got in somewhere inside your circle.
It is well to remember that a fox will pass over earths that are open and then change his mind and turn sharp back to them.
Do not make any fancy casts until you have made all the orthodox ones.
While casting whippers-in should leave the hounds quite alone. They are often too fond of interfering with them. Nothing sounds so bad as "Let'em alone, Bill."
Be cautious before going to a holloa. With most people every fox they see is the hunted fox. They will sometimes holloa because they see the hounds, sometimes because they saw the fox an hour ago. It is therefore often the quickest way in the end to send a whipper-in, or some one you can really trust, to make sure the holloa is a true one, that the man holloaing is doing so where he saw the fox, to ascertain for certain in what direction the fox was travelling, and how long it is since he saw him, and remember that generally they exaggerate the time, also that a fox nearly always turns as soon as he is lost sight of.
If you do decide on going to the holloa, go as quick as ever you possibly can, but do not start off at a mad gallop holloaing and blowing your horn ; if you do you will get your hounds' heads up, and when you want them to hunt they will be looking up at you, and be careful of running heel, when you lay them on.
Lord Henry Bentinck, referring to a huntsman galloping off with his hounds flogged up to him, remarks : "Often enough in being whipped up in this way to their huntsman, when crossing the line of the fox with their heads up, they first catch his wind and then as a matter of course they must take the scent heel-way, the fox as a rule running down wind."
Avoid "lifting" your hounds as a general rule. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to do so. For instance, you get on to a bit of very bad scenting ground, and are getting further and further behind your fox ; the pack can hardly work out the line, and you are virtually at a standstill. There is better scenting ground some fields beyond, and it is necessary to get on to it as soon as possible. Stop your hounds altogether, and take them quickly but quietly to the point you wish to lay them on at, but if that point is not far off, or sheep or cattle are the hindering cause, then it is better to press them on than to "lift" them.
Sometimes when a fox runs into a small covert huntsmen stop their hounds and hold them round it on the chance that he has gone through it, and so save a few minutes. It is far better to let them hunt him through it. You may change foxes or another fox may go away with your hunted fox and there will then be two lines, and so on. If, however, the manoeuvre is adopted, let your whippers-in keep a sharp look-out that your hunted fox does not slip back.
With a sinking fox and he running short, do not get excited, let your hounds work it out. Get their heads up and you will lose him.
With a sinking fox, unless you are getting very close to him, if the scent appears to get better take care you may not have changed foxes, because the scent of a sinking fox is weaker than that of a fresh one.
Old hounds know this, therefore watch them well. If they hold back you have changed foxes.
If a fox gets to ground always cast carefully round to be certain he is really there. He may have tried the place—gone in for a moment and come out again—or gone right through. Through neglecting this precaution some extremely ludicrous scenes occur.
If a beaten fox goes to ground it is better to dig him out if you can. People say, "Oh, spare a good fox for another day," but he will most likely die under ground.
It is useful sometimes to dig a fox for the good of the hounds, especially if they are short of blood, but the frequent digging of foxes is likely to encourage loafers to unstop drains, etc, in order to earn a few shillings.
Always let your hounds have a good worry when they kill their fox.