The South Downs Bloodhounds (SDB) are a pack of cross bred bloodhounds that hunt the ‘clean boot’ in the South of England.
The term clean boot refers to the fact that they hunt a clean human runner who does not carry or drag any form of scent enhancement. Mr Jeremy Whaley originally created the pack in 2002 as the Borders Bloodhounds in Berwickshire. When Jeremy moved south he brought his hounds with him and formed the SDB Hunt in 2004. He remains the owner, Huntsman, and Senior Master.
The kennels are at Hatch Barn (Alton, Hampshire). The pack varies in size from season to season but is approximately 23 couple (46 individual hounds). The hounds are all bloodhound cross foxhound, and Jeremy tries to ensure every hound has pure bred bloodhound in their pedigree within three generations. Usually this is through the male line.
A bloodhound’s sense of smell is more acute than that of a foxhound. However, pure bloodhounds tend to lack the robustness and athleticism for hunting so breeding in kennels is a key aspect to the pack’s performance.
Hunt country is defined by the generosity of landowners and farmers who allow the SDB to hunt on their land. We hunt mainly in Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset and West Sussex but can hunt anywhere we are invited. When asked where our country is, Jeremy says “it is easily defined, it is completely surrounded by salt water, although happy to cross that as well!”. Because the hunting is planned, the hounds can be easily restricted to land where permission has been gained in advance of a hunting day.
The SDB’s season starts mid/late August with Training Meets otherwise know as Tub Hunting (at the start of a Season our Quarries can be bit ‘tubby’). We meet mainly on Sundays, with the Opening Meet around the second Sunday in October. Meets are at 12 noon and hunting continues every Sunday until mid-April. A typical day’s hunting will comprise 3-4 hunts; bloodhounding has hunts as opposed to lines which is a drag hunting term. With longer hunts planned up to several miles, it is easy to cover a significant mileage on a hunting day.
Normally the Field rides closer to the pack than one might with foxhounds, so if you are a ‘hound man’ (and please excuse the gender label) you can really follow and watch hounds hunt (they speak gloriously). Those in the field wishing to get airborne are provided with ample opportunities and we do have some fabulous jumping days. However we also cater for those who wish to remain ‘grounded’ or just enjoy an occasional or lower jump.
New riders, and even regular hunters, are advised to check out our Guide to Hunting with the SDB page, which is designed to make everyone’s life easier.
Hunting with bloodhounds, like all horse sports, involves risk. Anyone taking part does so at their own risk and the Masters and Officers of the SDB are not liable for any injury, death or consequential loss to the horse or rider caused out hunting. Riders are strongly advised to have adequate personal accident and third party insurance.