GLOSSARY - Foxhunting in Virginia
Foxhunting in Ol' Virginny

Glossary of Foxhunting Terms

General Terms

Commands in the Field

Signals in the Field

Staff Commands to Hounds

Knowing these terms won't make you a better person; but, like using nautical terms on a boat, they help avoid misunderstandings and perpetuate traditions. Usage varies from area to area, of course. (Horse and tack terms are not included.) If you have any terms you'd like add or modify, please e-mail me: dcmdcm -at-

Worst Terminology Puns Ever
Cartoons from Punch 1881-1883 by
J.Priestly Atkinson
(aka Dumb-Crambo Junior)
Hunting 1
Hunting 2
Hunting 3
A Run With the Berkshire 1
A Run With the Berkshire 2


"A" stands for "AIEEEE!" -- a cry emitted upon discovering a large drop on the other side of a blind jump.
Account For To kill or put a fox to ground.
Autum Hunting The politically correct term for cub hunting
Away The fox is in the open and/or hounds are on the line.

"B" stands for "BLOODY HECK!" -- an expletive emitted when following someone saying "A" after his head disappears out of sight below the top of the jump.
Babble When a hound gives tongue for anything other than a good fox scent.
Babbler An unnecessarily noisy hound.
Barway A fence section with sliding horizontal poles which can be jumped by the first flight or taken down for hilltoppers or tractors.
Billett Fox droppings. Scat.
Bitch Female 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.
Blind Country Terrain so overgrown that jumps and footing can't be gauged.
Blooded Hound or follower after their first kill. Applying a touch of fox blood to the forehead is no longer done due to rabies concerns.
Blue Ticked Hound coloring, mostly white with dapples of black for a blue appearance.
Boo Hoo When a hound is lost or frustrated and sings out.
Brace Two game animals.
Breakfast Meal served by a host after a hunt, either buffet or sit-down. For an informal breakfast, you should bring a covered dish or something.
Brush Fox's tail.
Burning Scent Scent so hot and strong that hounds tear along the line without hesitation. Screaming scent.
Burst Hounds get away quickly on the fox, or a fast part of a run.
Button The hunt button is a black or brass button with the hunt's distinctive logo engraved on it. This is worn only at the invitation of the Master.
Bye Day An additional hunting day not on the fixture card.

"C" stands for "COME ON!" -- a challenge to followers after saying "A", avoiding "T", and thinking "W".
Cap Capping fee paid by non-members to ride with the field - usually limited to two or three visits before a membership application is expected. Also, a rider's hard hat.
Car Followers Those who follow the hunt in vehicles, the third field or third flight.
Cast When hounds search for a lost line. The Huntsman may take charge of the pack and help them, or hounds may cast themselves.
Catch Hold To collect hounds and take them forward at a check or to a holloa.
Coffee Housing Distracting field chit-chat while others are listening for hounds.
Challenges It When a hound first speaks to a line.
Charles Respectful name for the fox. Also, Charlie, gentleman Charles, Charles James, the old gentleman, Reynard, varmint, Uncle Remus.
Check Hounds temporarily lose the line on a run. Followers stay quiet.
Cheer Huntsman's encouragement to hounds.
Cold Line Faint scent due to time or conditions.
Colors Distinctive Hunt livery worn by members at the invitation of a Master. For Bull Run Hunt, this entails a Confederate-gray colar and BRH hunt buttons on a gentleman's scarlet coat or a lady's black or dark-blue coat.
'Coop Chicken coop. An inviting, 3-foot high (or more), A-frame, roof-like jump.
Counter Hounds on the line, but going in the opposite direction. Also, heel line.
Country The Hunt's general territory as registered with the MFHA.
Couple Two hounds. Hounds are numbered in couples, because it's easier to count them quickly in twos. Also, to attach two hounds together with couples.
Couples A short connector between two collars, so a puppy can be paired-up with an experienced hound for training.
Covered Line Line that an earlier hound has hunted and, therefore, interfered with.
Covert (cover) Woods or dense growth where a fox may be found.
Cracker The piece at the very end of a hunt whip which makes the cracking noise. Also, lash or popper.
Crop The stick part of a hunting whip, not the whole assembly.
Cry Sound of hounds speaking to a line. Also, voice, tongue, music.
Cub A young fox born the past spring.
Cubbing Pre-season hunting which teaches cubs to run from the pack and teaches puppies to hunt with the pack. Also, cub hunting and autumn hunting.
Cub Hunting See Cubbing or Autumn Hunting.
Cur Dog Canine not from the pack.

"D" stands for "DANG!" -- an oath uttered after saying "B" and after hearing "C".
Den An underground fox lair. Kennel.
Den Bark Peculiar cry of hounds at an earth having put a fox to ground.
Den Dog Hound particularly keen on worrying an earth and with a peculiar cry.
Dew Claw False toe/claw on a hound's forelegs.
Dog Male hound, male fox. Any non-hound canine.
Double Back When a fox returns to the covert it left.
Draft To remove hounds from a kennels or a pack.
Draft Hound Hound removed from its regular pack.
Draw a Covert Put hounds into a covert to find a fox.
Draw Blank An unsuccessful draw.
Drive The urge of a hound to get forward.
Dwell The tendency of a hound to hunt without going forward. Lack of drive.

"E" stands for "EASY!" -- a comment on the jump's difficulty after following the rider saying "C" and without encountering "T".
Early Cubbing Informal cub hunting prior to open cubbing. Participation is by invitation of a Master.
Earth Where a fox goes to ground for safety, usually a den or kennel.
Enter To use a hound regularly for hunting.
Entered Hound A hunting member of the pack.
Entry Hounds to be entered this season.
Eye to Hounds By waching hounds and listening, to be able to tell what the fox has done and about what they are gong to do.

"F" stands for "FINE" -- a mumbled response to bystanders after a "T" without losing consciousness.
Fall An optional piece of leather between the thong and lash of a hunting whip which helps make a more reliable cracking sound.
Feathering A hound indicates, other than by giving tongue, that it's hunting a line; a waving stern. Uncertain.
Field Mounted followers other than Master and staff. Usually divided into two or more fields: first flight, non-jumpers, hilltoppers, car/foot-followers.
Field Master Individual in charge of mounted followers.
Field Secretary Individual who collects the capping fees from non-members.
Find When hounds first detect a fox's scent.
First Flight Riders who plan to jump everything necessary and to stay close to the action.
Fixture Time and place of a meet. Also, a regular location for a meet.
Fixture Card Card sent to members and individuals invited to hunt. Lists dates, places, and times of meets.
Flighty Undependable or changeable hounds or scent.
Foil A smell that obliterates or disguises a fox's scent trail.
Fox, Gray Canis Urocyon cinereoargenteus.
Fox, Red Canis Vulpes vulpes fulva (US). See Charles.
Fresh Line Newly-laid scent trail.
Full Cry Sound of many hounds hunting hot & heavy as a pack.

"G" stands for "GO ON!" -- a challenge to those in front of you after hearing "C" but not in a position to utter "B".
Give Tongue When a hound cries out or speaks.
Gone Away Fox has left the covert, the chase is on.
Go to Ground When the fox escapes into an earth.

"H" stands for "Huh?" -- inevitable first utterance to bystanders after a "T" and loss of consciousness.
Halloo (holler) Huntsman's or staff's holler that the fox was viewed. Also, Holloa, View Halloo.
Head a Fox To turn a fox from its own route. Bad result of riders away from the field.
Headed to Death Fox unfairly killed by being headed.
Heads Up Hounds raise their heads and lose the scent. A sin if caused by riders.
Heel Line Hounds on the line, but going in the opposite direction. Also, counter.
Hilltoppers Riders who do not plan to jump but move at a walk or trot to strategic viewing spots.
Honest Hound Trustworthy, dependable hound.
Horn Hook The gate-opening tool at the end of a hunt whip.
Honor the Line A hound gives tongue on a line which another hound was hunting.
Hound Canine used for hunting by scent.
Hound Exercise Taking hounds and puppies for a road or field walk to give them exercise and to train the puppies to the pack.
Hound Music The sound made when hounds are in full cry.
Hunt Fox-hunting club. Also, a day's hunting.
Hunting Whip The complete assembly of crop (the stick, horn hook, & tab), thong (braided part), fall, and lash (popper/cracker) used for making a loud noise or (more rarely) for inducing a sting to control hounds. It's an alert, warning, or punishment as well as a badge of authority to hounds. The whip is carried by staff and those field riders who can carry it safely -- in case they are called-upon to temporarily help control hounds, to discourage a hound from going under a horse, or to lend to a staff member who's broken or lost theirs.
Hunt Saboteur
(see also: Sab)
Misguided individual intent on spoiling foxhunters' sport by interferience with hounds, fox, horses, scent line, etc. or by violence and intimidation against participants, bystanders, staff, and facilities; and they often break the law in doing so. Sabs range from self-righteous animal-rights activists to paid thugs who commit atrocities in the name of anti-foxhunting. (Note: these animals hunt in packs, since they are cowardly by nature; and their leadership are often politically motivated.)
Huntsman Individual who hunts the hounds.

"I" stands for "I DON'T THINK SO!" -- a comment made by the first rider to refuse the challenge, "C".

"J" stands for "JUNIOR" -- the age category of the only riders who do not use the terms "A", "B", "D", "F", "H", or "I" above.
Joint Masters Two or more Masters who share responsibilities for hunt operations in one hunting club.

"K" stands for "KISS" -- what your horse probably deserves after "V".
Keeper The leather piece at the end of a hunting whip's crop to which the thong is attached. Also, tab.
Kennel Underground fox lair. Den.
Kennels Home for the hounds.
Kill, the When the fox is killed by the pack.
Kit Young fox, cub, pup. Not to be confused with the species, Kit Fox.

"L" stands for "LUCK" -- the true source of one's apparent skill which prompted the challenge, "C".
Lair Fox's daytime bed.
Larking Jumping fences unnecessarily when hounds are not running.
Lash The piece at the very end of a hunting whip which makes the cracking noise. Also, cracker or popper.
Lead Hound The hound up front while the pack is on a line.
Lift To pick hounds up while hunting and move them forward on the line.
Line Fox's scent trail, his route across the ground.
Line Breeding Offspring from parents having common ancestry.
Litter Group of  hound whelps or fox cubs born to one mother at one time.
Livery Attire of the professional staff. Usually particular to a hunt.
The rest of the Glossary is on a separate page for size reasons, but you can navigate as if the Glossary was all on one page.
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TOP OF PAGE -- Revised: 02 January 2005.
Copyright © 2005 D.Morris
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