Tucked away in Privett, just outside Petersfield, lives a pack of bloodhounds, whose astonishing talents are put to the test every week hunting “the clean boot”.
Bloodhound packs receive little publicity, because they are entirely uncontroversial, and it’s a relatively new sport.
Bloodhounds track the scent trail of humans, not animals. Their scenting abilities are so superior that they can distinguish and hunt the scent of one particular human.
On hunting mornings, volunteer “quarries” pull on their trainers to run around 5km, following a route that has been pre-agreed with the landowners. The runners get at least half an hour’s head start: their mission is to outrun and outwit the bloodhounds by zig-zagging across the Hampshire countryside in order to throw them off the scent. It’s fair to say they are rarely outwitted by the humans.
What happens when the bloodhounds reach the runners? A major licking ensues, along with a celebratory howl!
in this month’s Dogs with Jobs, Kate Fairweather meets Jeremy Whaley, who is both senior joint Master and Huntsman of the South Downs Bloodhounds. He gives an articulate and insightful overview of the bloodhounds’ talent, working lives and relationship dynamics.
And if you’re fit, can read a map and fancy running for the bloodhounds – you can find out how to get involved as a runner (or a rider, or simply to watch) with this newly emerging sport.
Find out more about hunting days – whether riding, following the hunt on foot or watching the bloodhounds from a distance (it’s quite a sight!) on Facebook or www.southdownsbloodhounds.co.uk.
If you enjoyed hearing about bloodhounds, try this throwback episode of Dogs with Jobs, that features another bloodhound – Lottie the missing persons Investigator, who worked with the police in the 1980s, recorded during lockdown in 2021.
If you would like to run for the bloodhounds, please contact Tom Marks at QuarryCaptain@southdownsbloodhounds.com or on 07881 368414.
Do you work your dog or dogs?
Kate is always delighted to hear from and meet working dogs – get in touch via FB, Instagram or email@example.com. She is particularly keen to meet some sniffer dogs!