In the past week or so my cataloging project has reached the hunting section of our collection. While the bulk of the books in this section are about fox hunting, there is a subset on… beagling. Beagling? At this point it will be obvious to those in the know, that I don’t have a background in sporting pursuits. However, since I joined the NSLM staff last spring I’ve been learning quite a lot, much of it through skimming the books as I work with them and from my coworkers, but also a great deal from visitors to the library. It turns out beagling is hare hunting using a pack of beagles with the field following behind on foot.
For more information I pulled Peter Wood’s, Thoughts on Beagling (1938), off the shelf. He discusses the ideal conformation for beagles. In his opinion, “Anyone who wishes to go steady should hunt with a 14-inch pack, at which size the pace of the hounds should generally be compatible with the capabilities of the followers. Those who feel fit, energetic, and full of running should hunt with a 15- or 16-inch pack, which will give them, if there is a scent, all the exercise they can wish for.” He describes the hunting year for beagling which includes rest and showing in the spring, increasing levels of exercise and training over the summer, and hunting September through March. The staff of the hunt is introduced. The roles of the Master, the Huntsman, and the Whippers-In are explained. He also offers general guidance on appropriate behavior for members of the field following the pack.
Wood’s book stands out for me because of its lovely illustrations by Thomas Ivester Lloyd, a lifelong hunter and one time Master of the Sherington Foot Beagles. His drawings clearly transmit a love of the sport. Looking at his pictures, it is easy to imagine tramping along with the rest of the field, chasing after the hounds on a crisp, cold day.
Thoughts on Beagling (1938)
I have been enjoying learning about sporting and equestrian topics as I work with NSLM’s collection. If you’d like to learn more too, please drop in and see me in the main reading room. The collection includes volumes on equestrian sports, hunting, wing shooting, and angling. We have books on sporting art and a large selection of biographies detailing the life and times of sporting personalities past and present.
Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact Erica by e-mail