Fox Hunting Terms

Glossary of Foxhunting Terms:

All on: All hounds in, present and accounted for.

Away: A fox has “gone away” when he has left the covert (cover). Hounds are “away” when they have left the covert on the line of a fox.

Babble: To give tongue on scent other than fox, on no scent at all, or on a scent too faint to follow. Can also be applied to the conversation that field members engage in during checks.

Blank: To draw blank is to fail to find a fox.

Brush: A fox’s tail is always called the brush.

Button: To receive, or be awarded the hunt buttons and colors.

Bye: A “bye” day is a hunting day not scheduled on the fixture card.

Cap: A fee that is paid by non-subscribers for a day of hunting, “capping.”

Check: An interruption in a run caused by hounds temporarily losing the line. (Checks provide a welcome “refreshment” break from the action for many CVH subscribers!)

Colors: (1) Colors that distinguish the uniform of a particular hunt. (2) To be awarded colors is to be given the right to wear them. CVH colors include a unique tattersall vest, a dark green felt collar for one’s hunt coat, CVH logo buttons and black patent leather boot tops. CVH is one of the only hunts in America where the black patent tops are worn by both men and women members.

Couple: Two hounds, for convenience in counting. Hounds are always referred to as so many couple. Generally an odd number is taken out hunting, “We have 14-and-a-half couple out today.” A couple is also a device for keeping two hounds attached to each other for training purposes.

Covert: (Pronounced “cover”) A patch of woods or brush where a fox might be found.

Cry: The sound given by hounds when hunting, also referred to as “music.”

Cub: A young fox.

Cubbing: Early hunting before the formal hunt season begins. Cubbing is used to train the “young entry,” or foxhound puppies.

Double: To blow a series of short sharp notes, “double the horn.” Signifies a fox is afoot.

Double Back: A fox that returns to covert after having left is said to double back.

Draw: To search for a fox in the covert.

Drive: The urge to get forward with the line. “That hound has drive.”

Dwell: To hunt without getting forward. A hound that lacks drive is apt to dwell. (Not often observed at CVH!)

Earth: A place where a fox goes to ground for protection, but usually a place where foxes live regularly – a fox den.

Enter: A hound is “entered” when he is first regularly used for hunting. Puppies in their first season of hunting are referred to as “young entry.”

Feather: A hound “feathers” when he indicates, by actions rather than voice, that he is on a line, or near it. The stern is waved and activity is concentrated and intensified.

Field: The group of people riding to hounds, excluding the MFH and Staff.

Field Master: The person designated to lead the field. The Field Master may, or may not be a MFH. At Chagrin Valley, Richard Desberg serves as the Field Master.

Fixture Card: The card sent out to list the times and meeting places for the given period, usually one month.

Formal Attire: During the “formal” hunt season, proper attire includes a gray (black for all intents and purposes) Melton coat, a white hunting, or stock tie with simple horizontal gold safety pin, a canary waistcoat (vest), black boots, buff, or canary breeches (no rust or white, please), wash, black, or brown leather gloves, or white string gloves, a safety helmet or hunting bowler with hat cord. Optional formal wear would include a frock coat, or a shadbelly (a double-breasted coat with long tails); these coats can be worn with a tophat attached with a hat cord (difficult in our territory as we encounter many low branches).

Ground: “To go to Ground” means that the fox has taken shelter, usually in a groundhog hole.

Hark: (1) “Be quiet and listen!” (2) Hounds rushing to a hound that has opened on a line.

Head: To “head” a fox is to cause it to turn from its planned direction of travel, not a wise move for any hunter.

Heel: Hounds following a line the wrong way, backwards.

Hill Toppers: Those who follow hounds on horseback at a distance behind the regular field without jumping. This is sometimes referred to a “Second Flight,” or “Second Field.”

Hold Hard: STOP! If the Master or a Staff person tells you to “Hold Hard,” do not make them repeat the command!

Honor: A hound “honors” when he gives tongue on a line that another hound has been hunting.

Huntsman: A Staff member who trains the hounds, hunts the hounds, and controls them in the field. Some hunts have a professional Huntsman; others have a Master, or Joint Master who acts as the Huntsman, while others have a dedicated volunteer Huntsman. CVH is fortunate to have an excellent professional Huntsman, Mr. Phillip Headdon, originally from Wales.

Lark: To jump a fence unnecessarily when hounds are not running. Considered very bad form, and the source of a surprising number of accidents.

Lift: To carry hounds forward.

Line: The trail of the fox.

Litter: Young born of the same mother at the same time. In foxhunting it applies to whelps (puppies), as well as fox cubs.

Mark: A hound “marks” when he indicates that a fox has gone to ground. He stops at the earth, tries to dig his way in, and gives tongue in a way quite different from his hunting voice. Hounds are congratulated at this point and are called off, leaving the fox for another day.

Master: The MFH (Master of Fox Hounds). The person who is in command of the hunt, both in the field and in the kennels. CVH has two Joint Masters: Mrs. Charles McConnell and Laura Mock.

Meet: (1) The assembling of the hunt for a day’s sport. (2) The actual place where the hunt assembles can be called either the “meet” or the “fixture.”

Melton: A traditional gray (black) hunt coat is made from Melton cloth. Melton cloth is heavy dense wool that repels water and can withstand being dragged through thorns and other obstacles of the hunt field without damage.

Nose: The ability of the hound to detect and interpret the scent.

Open: A hound is said to “open” when he first gives tongue on a line.

Pad: The foot of a fox, or the center cushion of a hound’s foot.

Panel: A jumpable fence between two posts. In CVH territory, fences are solid panel, “chicken coop” style.

Point: (1) The straight-line distance covered in a run. (2) The location to which a whipper-in is sent to watch for a fox to go away from the covert.

Ratcatcher: Informal hunting attire. At CVH this would include a lightweight tweed or madras (it gets hot in August) hacking jacket, buff, canary, or rust colored breeches, black or brown boots (field boots are acceptable), a cotton blouse with a choker collar (for ladies), an oxford style shirt with tie for men. A stock tie is always acceptable. Gloves should be wash, brown, or black leather (black gloves can stain hands when wet). String gloves are also appropriate. A hunting bowler, or safety helmet is a must.

Rate: A warning cry given to correct hounds.

Ride: A lane or path cut through the woods.

Riot: Hounds hunting game other than fox.

Run: When the hounds find the line of a fox they quickly move off in pursuit. This usually means a nice gallop for the field.

Scent: The smell of the fox, and the physical and chemical phenomena by which the smell is transferred from the fox’s footprint to the hound’s nose. Scent can be good or bad, meaning easy or difficult to follow. The science of “scent” is constantly debated and generally not well understood. There are some broadly agreed upon determinants of scent including humidity (high humidity is favored), temperature (cool temperatures are favored), and moisture content of the ground (scent does not hold well if the ground is excessively dry).

Speak: For a hound to give tongue.

Staff: The Joint-Masters, Huntsman, and Whippers-In.

Stern: The tail of a hound.

Thong: (1) A skimpy bathing suit, not appropriate hunting attire. (2) The long flexible braided leather portion of a hunting whip.

Thruster: OK, OK, this is serious! A “thruster” is a member of the field who rides too close to staff or hounds.

Tongue: Watch it, now! A hound “gives tongue” when he proclaims with his voice that he is on the line of a fox.

View: To actually see the fox. Should a member of the field have a view, they should quietly inform the Master.

View Halloa: The high-pitched cry given only by a staff member on viewing a fox breaking covert.

Walk: To exercise the hounds. Puppies are walked during the summer for training.

Ware: A caution to riders: “Ware hole!” “Ware wire!” “Ware hound!”

Whelp: A young puppy, or to bear puppies.

Whipper-In: A Staff member who assists the Huntsman in controlling the hounds.