Hunt Terminology

Every sport has its own unique terminology and fox hunting is no exception.  Following are a number of commonly used terms that you may hear in the hunt field.

Appointments – uniform or livery of the hunt. Black melton frock coat. Canary Vest. Tan breeches. Black boots. Bowler or hunt cap with harness. White shirt and white stock with plain gold stock pin. Gloves, brown leather or chamois. Blunt spurs if worn. Crop with thong and lash.

Away – The fox is in the open and/or hounds are on the line.

Babble – To give tongue on a scent other than fox, on no scent at all, or on a scent too faint to follow.

Babbler – unnecessarily noisy hound.

Blank – Failure to find a fox in a covert is to draw blank. Failure to find a fox all day is to have a blank day.

Brush – A fox’s tail is always called a brush.

Capping fee – Capping fee paid by non-members to ride with the field 

Cast – When hounds search for a lost line. The Huntsman may take charge of the pack and help them, or hounds may cast themselves.

Check – An intentional or unintentional interruption of the run caused by hounds losing the scent. Sometimes compared to a rest stop. Great time for a sip of apricot brandy.

Colors – distinctive colors of coat and buttons each hunt club adopts as their livery. Usually hunt staff and male members only wear scarlet coats.

Colors – The distinctive colors that distinguish the uniform of one hunt from another. To be awarded colors, is to be given the right to wear them and the hunt button. This is an honor.

Couple – hounds are counted in pairs. Five couple would be 10 hounds.

Covert – (say “cover”) Woods or dense growth where a fox may be found.

Cry – The sound given by the hounds when hunting. Also called “giving tongue”. Voice of the hounds as in “full cry”

Cubbing, Cubhunting – a cub is a young fox, cubbing season tests the fox and/or the hounds in the field before the formal hunting season begins.

Dogs – A term never used in foxhunting. Its always “hounds”!

Drag, Drag Hunt – scent of fox, a hunt where an artificial scent is laid and followed by the hounds. We are a “drag hunt”.

Draw – Put hounds into a covert to find a fox.

Earth – Where a fox goes to ground for safety, usually a den.

Entry – hounds “enter” regular hunting with the pack. Young riders are often called “young entry” by older members of the hunt.

Field – The group of people riding to the hounds, excluding the MFH and staff.

Field Master – The person designated by the MFH to control the field. Never pass the field master!

Fixture – The time and place of a meet, or hunt assembly.

Ground – like going to earth, a fox “goes to ground.”

Head – to cause a fox to head off in another direction, this action is not appreciated by staff.

Hill Toppers – Foxhunters taking an alternate route (usually on top a hill) to watch from a distance and follow along with the field but not ride in the thick of things. This group usually covers less ground and is comprised of green riders, riders with green horses or simply less experienced fox hunters.

Hold Hard – a command used by staff meaning “Stop please.” If used twice to the same individual, it probably means to “Stop please, damn you!”

Hounds – The correct term used in foxhunting for our canine counter parts.

Huntsman – Hunt staff member who controls the hounds in the field.

Lark – jump unnecessarily and irresponsibly

Line – The trail or scent of the fox.

Master – Master of Foxhounds (MFH) person in command of the hunt in the fields and kennels.

Meet – The meet is where all the hunt and followers collect before a day’s hunting.

Panel – jump-able part of fence or obstacle.

Point – Distance covered during a run as the crow flies. Straight line distance of a run.

Ratcatcher – Informal hunting attire. Black, brown or grey tweed coat. Tan, buff or brown breeches. Black or brown boots. Hunt cap with harness. White shirt and white stock with plain gold stock pin. Gloves, brown leather or chamois. Blunt spurs if worn. Crop with thong and lash.

Rate – warning or correction of the hounds by the Master or Huntsman.

Riot – Hounds riot when they chase after animals other than the hunted quarry (for instance deer, birds, cats).

Run – a gallop for the field when the hounds are on a line.

Scent – The distinctive musky odor a fox left on the ground, grass, foliage, and in the air. Can vary with weather and ground conditions.

Speak – Hounds speak, that is yelp in a manner peculiar to hounds, when on the scent of a quarry. 

Staff – The Huntsman and Whippers-in.

Stern – tail of a hound.

Tongue – Cry. a hound “gives tongue” when he proclaims with his voice that he is on a line.

View – To see or sight a fox.

Ware – a caution – WARE hound, WARE wire, WARE hole. An action which if not heard, can be seen to warn others following to beware of danger.

Whipper-In – Hunt staff who assists the huntsman with hounds