The Masters of Draghounds and Bloodhounds Association (MDBA) was formed in 1997 following a merger between the old MDHA and the MBHA.
It now represents all draghound and bloodhound hunting in the British Isles, along with some packs in Southern Ireland.
Drag Hunting packs make use of The English Foxhound, a breed with a long documented history. There is proof that Foxhounds were the very first canines in Great Britain to be scientifically bred.
By 1710 hounds were to be found in packs, carefully bred and at this time some of the hunts had changed to hunting the fox. Mr Charles Pelham later the first Lord Yarborough was the first to start keeping lists of hound pedigrees and ages.
Drag Hunts generally make use of the Modern English type bred for speed and persistence they can be a mix of colours from black, tan & white to lemon and white, and pie spotted coats. They are large dogs, powerful in build with large bones.
The English Foxhound makes an excellent Drag Hound they are bold passionate hunters who love to follow a drag line and also to bay – there is nothing more thrilling (except perhaps the Bloodhounds voice) than to hear a pack of Foxhounds pick up the scent of the laid line and voice their excitement and enthusiasm. They are, of course, pack animals, who must be trained to work together, obey their huntsman and whipper-ins, their natural instinct to scent makes them ideal for drag hunting and they soon learn to work to the artificial scent that drag packs use to lay a line.
The Bloodhound is of more ancient origin but at the end of the 17th Century a quicker hound was required to hunt wild deer and people devoted to the chase, mainly members of the nobility and large landowners, began to breed for this purpose.
Its long ancestry traced from France in Medieval Times, when the name ‘Chien de Saint Hubert’ was given to hounds kept by the monks of St Hubert’s Abbey. In the Ardennes on the Belgium/France border these large game hounds of St Hubert and Talbot and the white Southern hound were crossed. These hounds were much sought after and from 1200 onwards the monks sent some of their black hounds to the King of France.
Over the centuries and with the decline of the aristocratic pursuit of hunting due to the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars there were effectively no St Huberts left in France, and elsewhere they had been so much crossed that they had altogether lost their character. T hroughout the world breeds such as the American Coon Hounds, Swiss Jura Hounds, Brazilian Fila Brasileiro, Bavarian Mountain Hound and many others trace their lineage back to this ancient scent tracker.
The British Bloodhound first arrived with the Normans and these hounds became particularly popular in the Borders used by protecting property against poachers and cattle thieves. Indeed such were their numbers that a special levy was raised to support the large packs.
Today all Bloodhounds are black and tan, or red. The Bloodhound possesses the keenest sense of smell of any other dog breed and can track scent that is many days old over considerable distances.
For us today enjoying a day’s sport with a bloodhound pack promises great excitement, encompassing the thrill of the chase whilst watching some of the most captivating hounds in the world go about their work with consummate skill and obvious enjoyment. Any one involved in looking after these hounds will testify to their energy, their boisterousness and sheer wilfulness which requires a great deal of patience and tactfulness to contain and train for our sport.
How does the Sport differ from what Foxhound Packs are now doing?
As long as the hunting ban remains in force, foxhound packs are continuing to provide a useful service to farmers by hunting foxes within the law. eg by flushing foxes to strategically placed marksmen.
Foxhound packs are also, in the main, simulating foxhunting as closely as they can by organising trail hunting.
So whereas most draghunt lines start in open country at a known spot and follow a pre-determined route. Trail hunting involves simulating the search in cover for a scent to follow. The scent is generally a natural one so the hounds are kept ready to resume foxhunting when the ban is finally repealed.