School beagle pack master

Horse & Hound|April 23, 2020

School beagle pack master
Tom Gurney on swapping rugby for beagling, skipping lessons to get to the kennels and what he’s learnt from being immersed in the rural community
Madeleine Silver

On my first morning at Stowe, aged 13, I woke up and missed my first lesson because I went straight down to see the beagles at the kennels. When I’d arrived with my father the night before, I saw the hounds being exercised in the Grecian Valley in the school’s grounds, with the sun going down on them, and I wanted to find out what it was all about.

My father Richard Gurney has been the master of the Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent for 12 seasons, and he was field master for two years before that, and so I’ve hunted my whole life.

I went beagling a couple of weeks into that first term and was sucked in from there. I dropped rugby straight away! I’ve now been master for the past two seasons. How many teenagers can finish their maths lesson and then go and hunt their own pack of hounds half an hour later? It’s the coolest thing.

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April 23, 2020