Waitemata Hunt releases the hounds
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.
Nigel Tracey rounds up his pack of hounds.