This section is from the book "A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland. (Sporting Division)", by Rawdon Briggs Lee. Also available from Amazon: A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland: Sporting Division.
The bloodhound stands alone amongst all the canine race in his fondness for hunting the footsteps of a stranger; any dog will hunt those of his master or of someone he knows, and of a stranger, probably, whose shoes are soaked in some stinking preparation to leave a scent behind. The bloodhound requires nothing but the so-called "clean shoe," and, once lay him on the track, he hunts it as a foxhound would the fox, or the harrier or beagle the hare.
To proceed with the following description of man-hunting with bloodhounds:
The storm of Sunday had passed, and how deep the snow lay in the streets and in the country places on the Monday, are now a matter of history. The air was keen and sharp, made so by a brisk north wind which blew on the Monday morning, when we left Euston station for Boxmoor, where we were to see two couples of Mr. Brough's bloodhounds run in the open country without assistance of any kind, and under any conditions which might prevail at the time. Surely the surroundings could not well have been more unfavourable unless a rapid thaw, immediately following the snow, had made them so. At Boxmoor the country was thoroughly white. The snow lay on the ground to an uniform depth of about eight inches; where it had drifted, occasionally we were almost up to our knees. For a time the sky was fairly bright, but later a blinding shower of snow fell, which happily cleared off in about an hour's time. At our terminus we were joined by Mr. Holmes Pegler, who brought with him a dog hound named Danger, by Maltravers out of Blossom. This hound a few generations back can claim some of the old southern hound blood; but he shows not the slightest trace of this, being a good-looking black and tan animal, though not then in the best form, so far as health was concerned. He had very little preliminary training, and thus afforded fair evidence of what a bloodhound will do under adverse circumstances. Our small party - which included, in addition to the gentlemen already mentioned, three ladies in a sleigh, Dr. Philpot; and Mr. W. K. Taunton - made the best way along the lanes to the Downs, and, ascended them, on to the Sheep Hanger Common. Towards the summit we found ourselves on one side of a pretty valley, which even under its wintry garb looked quite charming, and afforded some idea of the beauty of the locality when summer blooms. However, before quite reaching the hilltop it was decided to give Danger a trial.
A man was selected for the purpose, and the course he had to run was pointed out to him. The thickly lying snow made locomotion very difficult, and as even now there came a recurrence of the storm, a comparatively short start was given. In seven minutes from the time the man had set off, Danger was laid on his track, and, picking up the line in an instant, went away at a quick rate along the hillside. We tried to run with the hound, but to do this in the deep snow and keep Danger in sight was impossible. After following him some six hundred yards or so, we had to make our way to the tiny knot of spectators on the hilltop, and once there saw that he had lost the line, after running it well for something less than half a mile. In making a cast round, he unfortunately struck the wind of the spectators, and came back to them. Nor did he seem very persevering in attempting to regain the scent, giving us the idea that in previous trials he had not been allowed to depend upon his own exertions to recover a lost trail.
Mr. Brough's hounds included Barnaby (one of the couple brought to London at the instance of the late Commissioner of Police) and Beeswing, with Belhus and Blueberry, their offspring. The two first named are well-known hounds on the show bench. Barnaby had run at the Warwick trials; the younger animals are fairly good looking, and their work was quite satisfactory. Blueberry was afforded the next trial, a stranger to her acting as the quarry, taking his route down the hill over sundry fences, going a semi-circular course of about a mile. After eight minutes' law the hound was unleashed, and had no difficulty in hitting the line, though snow was falling heavily. She carried it along at a good pace, quite mute, and, a little at a loss at one fence in the hollow, cast well around, re-found the line, and, without more ado, ran it out up to the man.
At one portion of this trial a labourer crossed the track, but the bitch stuck to her line, and was not thrown out for a moment. Without resting, the two couples of the Scarborough hounds had a quarry provided in Dr. Philpot. For some distance he made his way along the hillside, through scrub and stunted bushes, down to a hedge at the foot of the vale. Here there was a road, and, crossing this and a fence, the quarry ran up a bare field to a plantation. Skirting the wood for three hundred yards, another fence was reached, across this, along some bare ground, by the side of another hedge, to the foot of the hill where we stood. No better view of such a trial could be had. This course was quite a mile. As the four hounds were to start, they were slipped ten minutes after their quarry had gone. Barnaby, a little slow in commencing, was not long behind, and, with a fresh and cheerful burst of music, the little pack raced along at an extraordinary pace, considering the depth of the snow. A little hesitancy in the bottom, Barnaby made a cast forward, had "it" again, "his wife and children" flew to his note, and away they rattled up to the plantation.
The old dog's size and strength were useful in this deep going, and he led the way; but scent must have been good, for, without losing it again, they raced down the hill, and fairly caught their man before he reascended from the valley. A good trial in every way.
Possibly the prettiest hunt of the day was afforded by Beeswing and Danger, with Master Pegler to be hunted, and a ten minutes' start given him. These hounds did not at the first hit off the line, but, when fairly on the track, went through the scrub, down the hill to the foot road, and over the fence without a check. Some nice work was done in the bare field, especially where the quarry struck off at a sharp angle, and along by the fence of the plantation. They had no difficulty in making out the whole of the course, which we would take to be about three-quarters of a mile.