Waitem­ata Hunt re­leases the hounds

Western Leader - - WHAT’S ON - CAL­LUM MCGILLIVRAY

Fif­teen min­utes north of Kauka­pakapa you’ll find the home of 30 har­rier hounds.

The Maka­rau prop­erty, man­aged by Waitem­ata Hunt In­cor­po­rated’s hunts­man Nigel Tracey, is where the hounds are looked af­ter and trained for the non-com­pet­i­tive sport known as drag hunt­ing.

The hounds are cross be­tween a bea­gle and a fox hound, with ori­gins in Europe, bred to chase hare and foxes.

How­ever, at Waitem­ata Hunt hounds are tasked with find­ing and fol­low­ing a laid out scent – usu­ally that of a dead pos­sum.

‘‘We ba­si­cally put on a show. And what sells the show is the noise the hounds make they’re chas­ing a scent. When the hounds hit the scent and run, it should make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up,’’ Tracey said.

‘‘It’s one of those pri­mal things, and we sim­u­late that as much as we can.’’

Tracey has 30 hounds un­der his guardian­ship, how­ever, he takes no less than 20 dogs to hunts other­wise he feels ‘‘naked’’.

The hounds range from pup­pies to ca­nines as old as 15.

‘‘I keep them go­ing a bit more than most. If I can think of any rea­son to keep a hound alive longer, I’ll take that op­tion.’’

Tracey has been around the

‘‘It's one of those pri­mal things, and we sim­u­late that as much as we can.’’

hunt scene since his early twen­ties, start­ing out as a horse trainer.

The 57-year-old is be­gin­ning his ninth year as hunts­man and said it’s a ‘‘cool job’’.

He got into the role as it was a good place to train a young horse, and there was the at­trac­tion of hav­ing land to train the hounds on.

‘‘But the body’s not what it used to be. I’m get­ting a bit old now, and only have a few sea­sons left in me to be rid­ing horses twice a week.’’

In his role as hunts­man Tracey will fol­low the hounds with his whips on horse­back. The aim is to nav­i­gate fences, jumps and gates as the hounds run af­ter the scent.

Waitem­ata Hunt has more than 60 mem­bers and run hunts two times a week.

Hunts are set up on farms in Coatesville, South Head, He­lensville, Wark­worth and as far as Paku­ranga and Kai­waka.

You can see all of the Waitem­ata Hunt’s hounds at the He­lensville A&P Show on Fe­bru­ary 25.

Search Waitem­ata Hunt on­line for more in­for­ma­tion.

CAL­LUM MCGILLIVRAY/ FAIRFAX NZ

Nigel Tracey rounds up his pack of hounds.

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