In Praise of Bouncer and Co December 11, 2013Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback
***note because of stupid mistake yesterday’s post was posted in the wrong place late, look below for a possible medieval reference to hippopotami***
Another in our strange sport series: today it is trail hunting. This was completely new to Beach but it seems that trail hunting was actually a fairly common nineteenth century sport and that it has become popular again since the ban on foxhunting. Interestingly this relates to late nineteenth-century Saddleworth where apparently the foxes had been hunted out. Saddleworth is, by English, standards, wild country in the South Pennines.
Trail hunting does not entail so much laborious exercise upon its admirers as hare hunting, and is so far advantageous that it can be pursued without cruelty… Two men in general run the trail, which is a scented rag, over the pre-determined course, and after a proper length of time has elapsed the dogs, varying in number, are slipped, and after ‘running the gauntlet’ scarcely less terrible than that of the American Indians,, the one arriving first is duly declared the winner. Opponents of certain dogs will sometimes meet them on the trail and stoning them off the scent will drive the wretched fugitive home, but such conduct is niether fair nor manly, and cannot be too much condemned.
The principal dogs in this line of hunting, of which we have any trustworthy record, are Bouncer, Plunder, Plunger (an old favourite whom I have seen pretty near stoned to death by ‘men’ from Millbottom), Nudger, Cracker and Blumena with a few others.
The names are suggestive enough. These dogs were often celebrated, literally for generations. Here is a poem from the 1820s that was sung into the early 1900s. Orwell had a category of poetry that he called good bad poetry, this is really good bad poetry.
Let the praise of Bouncer with freedom resound,
Since tho’ the whole country there’s not such a hound,
When the field-word is given he capers for joy,
And flies like a dart for old J__n [John, Jason?] i’th’ Oxhey.
Like a sunbeam so fleetly he ranges the glen,
Vales and mountains re-echo his voice back again.
Talk of hedgerows six quarters, they aid but his flight,
For like an old Spratan [Spartan?] he bounds them outright:
His comrades with Nudger can but fumble them o’er,
Tamely Nudger, fam’d Nudger, confesseth his power:
Drink ye friends of brave Bouncer and fill up again,
Drink his health and be merry for none cam him run.
More on trail chasing? Drbeachcombing AT yahoo dot com