Hunt servants are in a somewhat exceptional position. They should never forget, and gentlemen should always remember, that they are the Master's servants, and not the servants of the public.
All hunt servants, huntsmen, whippers-in, kennelmen, studgrooms, second horsemen, should be sober, respectable, trustworthy men, smart and clean in appearance, civil and well-mannered. The character of the hunt may be fairly judged by the manners and turn-out of the servants.
A huntsman should be keen about his profession, good-tempered, persevering and patient ; firm in his opinion but not conceited—conceit is a fatal failing in a huntsman. He should be thoroughly acquainted with the nature and habits of the fox, and with those and the diseases of the hound. He should be fond of his hounds and always with them, walking them out and playing with them, and let him remember Captain Anstruther Thomson's excellent advice, " Stay at home with your hounds and wear a white neckcloth." In the field he should be a man of resource, for a fox is a wild animal and cannot be hunted mathematically, and able to adapt himself to the circumstances of the moment and not be afraid of being bold when boldness is required. It is there that a huntsman shows his genius.
Of course huntsmen have their talents like other men. Some are better in the field than in the kennel, and so on, so you must not expect to get an absolutely perfect huntsman any more than anything else.
A huntsman should be a good horseman, so as to be able always to be with his hounds ; that is a good careful rider, for the art of riding to hounds consists in being as near as possible to hounds, with the least exertion and fatigue to the horse.
It is absolutely essential, and masters of hounds should always remember, that huntsmen and whippers-in should be well and safely mounted. They cannot do their work properly if they are not: and, indeed, their lives depend on it.
That the whippers-in should be good is of vital importance to the pack.
They should study their duties and perfect themselves in them, both in the kennel and in the field, and they should study their huntsman's ways so as to understand and even anticipate his wishes ; they should always address him as " sir," and should work cordially together and whip-in loyally to their huntsman, doing their work quietly and efficiently, and they should be good and careful horsemen.
The first whipper-in should certainly, as a rule, be with the huntsman when hounds are running, but if they get away on the side where the second whipper-in is posted, he should go on with the huntsman, leaving the first whipper-in to bring on any hounds left behind. On the arrival of the first whipper-in the second whipper-in should fall back again into his place.
If by any accident the huntsman is not with the hounds, the first whipper-in should go on with them till he comes up, but he must on no account whatever steal the hounds from his huntsman, and jealously try to kill the fox without him.
The second whipper-in's place is behind, but not so far as to prevent his being able to render the assistance his duties require of him.
He must be careful not to leave any hounds behind in cover, to stop and bring on any hounds which may have divided on another fox, and be for ever "making" his hounds, so that none may be away unnoticed.
It is true that generally hounds which have been left behind either get on the line of the pack and rejoin it, or trot away home ; but being left out leads to all sorts of mischief and trouble—they may be bitten by cur dogs and so introduce madness into the kennel, etc., etc. Nothing in short is so bad for a hound as being left out.
He should hover about observing which way the hounds are tending, and so place himself as to be able if necessary to head the fox from a cover, or drain, view a fox coming back, get on to some point where he is likely to be required, and so on. In short the duties of whippers-in afford a wide scope for their talents, but it by no means follows that an excellent whipper-in must make an excellent huntsman, their duties being widely different.
The boiler should be a man in whom implicit confidence can be placed.
Nothing is so upsetting to a huntsman, when young hounds are coming in from walk, and distemper and yellows may be raging, as to be obliged to go out hunting in mortal fear of what may happen in his absence.
He should be so far acquainted with the art of doctoring the hounds as to be able to carry out the huntsman's instructions perfectly, and in cases of necessity to know what steps to take during the huntsman's absence.