For my foxhunting friends this will not be such a big deal. You will ask what the following has to do with the heart of the story but read on and It will become useful. I learned to trust my horses ears whilst whipping-in to Tot Goodwin, famous huntsman for Green Creek Hounds. If you have never hunted in thick trappy mountains there is nothing like it. Add Tot into the adventure and you have yourself a story every time. You had best have the right horse. Oh, you say we are taking the field straight up the side of THAT? Then as you struggle to the top, watching the hind quarters of the horse in front of you hoping the rider lays off his mouth and lets him pick his own best way.....and wishing your horse had a bit more of a hank of mane but this gelding is Merlin and tho he is of whispy mane, he is sure of foot and brave and trusts me beyond question. I must always be careful what I ask him to do because he will never fail me. The story........I have been alone with my Merlin standing in The Planted Pines for what seems like days. I am a social soul so this aloneness is not so wonderful. But I can hear the hounds way off and coming towards me, or are they turning away? Merlin is stock still except for his lovely Godolphin curved ears turning like the most sophisticated radar available. He knows exactly where the lead hound is, where Tot is, where he is ( I dont not REALLY know where I am except in The Planted Pines) and there is a game trail 50 ft in front of me. I have my whip ready in case they are on deer and truthfully I am secretely hoping they are........I need something to do. I have this gift. A one of a kind whip with sterling silver foxhead and custom lash........Zebra wood handle and its just itching for a hound on a deer. Did I mention I was a social soul and needed to be acomplishing something all the time? Not so much these days. Merlin shifts his weight. He is at attention uncocking his hind left. His right ear picks something up tho the left is still on hounds and they are getting louder, but still I can hear birds. Ahhhh his right ear first then his eye then his head looks right, leaving the hounds to what to do what they do, and looks at where the thickest part of the woods empties on to the game trail.
Now the waiting is worth it. I know what is going to happen now. Because it has come to me as a gift three times before and who could be so lucky? Merlin opens his large nostrals even more and widens his eye but does not move even his radar ears for they have already locked in. I look where he looks. I can feel the energy of his knowing under me through the irons and up the inside of my thighs and without a thought of it. Have I ever been that connected to a two legged partner. Yes but that is another story. I hear only the birds, no... they have quieted and spooked. Seconds seem like minutes and still my Merlin has not moved even a muscle save his breathing. I can feel his heart through the tack. Really feel it.
The hounds quiet and I think they have lost, but just then the fox appears at a slow steady trot, owning the ground. He sees us and stops. Smiles and trots on. The hounds have found scent again and I count. One, two, three, four five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen........twenty five, twenty six and hounds are blasting hot now. I can hear them like bees in my ears. There is simply nothing like seeing 50 hounds streaming, gushing, some quiet with nose to the ground, trusting the strike hounds but all on a single mission. I knew they were Right. No deer. Right on the line so I did not Tally Ho, till Tot came next and he knew because I smiled and pointed with my fancy foxhead whip. The one stream of sunlight sparking off the Sterling Ear. And still Merlin waited.....I waited till the field caught up and I joined them knowing Pat Hale was where she was supposed to be and my mission was done. That was the last time I whipped in. Some live for moments like that and I loved it. Who gets that lucky? So now you get the rest of the story.
Yesterday was as perfect as it gets here on our sailboat on the river down a mile from the ocean on the InterCoastal WaterWay. Boats were floating North and South and there was enough of a breeze to keep the SumbitchNoSeeUms away. The sky was blue. We had just finished attaching the netting along the parameter of the boat for safety sake to help keep the dogs on board. Both dogs were up on deck with us enjoying the freedom. I was slow with the perfectness of the day and stood admiring our handy work I noticed both dogs stock still each staring at the same place under the 65ft bridge just south of the marina. This went on for a while and plenty long enough for me to think it strange because I saw nothing. Not even birds. But as you know from my experience with the bigger four legged beasts, they know better. I stared as well , content to trust them for however long it took. One two , three, four dolphins surfaced, swimming our way down the river. These were not mommas and babies. These were hunting. Hunters.
The Boat Hounds
had not seen but must have heard the dolphins bouncing their sonar off fish way before they could have seen them To make it more perfect, the group came right inbetween our boat and Falcon, and ate lunch. They were more active than I had ever seen them. Really working for their dinner. One even came right next to the boat on his side. Now here is the really cool part: I had yelled at Barry to get our cameras and he did and we both got shots of the beasts. I have tried countless times to get pictures of dolphins but usually only get their wake and a giggle.
Who gets this lucky? Today we did.