- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Neither Crane nor Thompson had dogs entered, but both are very knowledgeable about hunts and trials and were determined to get close to a working pack. We piled into the car and started off. After driving a few miles on the twisting dirt roads, stopping occasionally to listen through the open window, Thompson remarked he didn't think many foxes were out.
"No, Mr. Thompson," Crane agreed. "The red fox don't like to get his tail wet. It slows him down, don't you see, and in this kind of weather he'll just as like stay cozy in his den." We passed a trio of hunters who had gotten out of their cars and, unmindful of the rain, were perched on a bank by the road. Mud was on their boots. One of them was wearing a pair of rubber earphones to which two funnels were attached, wide parts facing forward. They looked a little bit like moose horns. "I call these my helpers," the man said. He listened with them.
"Hear anything?" Thompson asked a man in a heavy coat, a red hunting cap and lumberjack boots. We all listened. From far off came the faint bark of a hound.
"Just over yonder by the blacktop," the man said, turning and pointing. "Don't sound like they doin' a whole lot."
Farther down the road we heard barking that seemed to get louder as we stopped to listen. Crane's face suddenly became animated.
"The first ones have hit, I believe, Mr. Thompson," he said. "That's a strike!"
"I believe we can get into the race a little more," said Thompson, climbing back in.
We moved on once again, stopping to listen every few hundred yards. By the sounds Crane and Thompson could tell approximately where the hounds were headed, but some of the roads were nearly impassable. "Be careful you don't get stuck, Mr. Thompson," Crane warned at one point. "The roads are getting all churned up."
Some dogs came trotting by. Crane took down their numbers; later he would tell the owners that he had seen their dogs and would describe what they were doing. These particular dogs did not seem to be too interested in scenting a fox. If a judge had happened by and caught them loafing, they would have been disqualified.
"Fox are clever," Crane told me after we had once more piled into the car. "They know that carbon monoxide kills their scent so sometimes they pass right close behind autos. They know, too, that dogs don't pay much mind to cars when they're in pursuit, so sometimes they cross the highway just to get a dog killed. Sometimes a fox'll jump on the back of a sheep to make the dogs lose the scent or run along a stone fence or the road. Up North the fox will run out onto thin ice and when the hounds follow—kerplunk! A cold bath. Because the hound is heavier, don't you see."