James DeVellis MD has numerous passions, but one of those is the hunting horn. This is an instrument that is still little known, expect in the fox hunting communities of Europe, where it is synonymous with royalty and trendiness. There is also some controversy associated with it, however, as there are allegations that fox hunting is a cruel sport and that hunters regularly engage in misconduct. At the same time, local farmers regularly voluntarily give up their lands to the hunts because foxes do untold damage to their land, crop, and livestock. James DeVellis, however, cares mainly about the hunting horn, rather than the latest news on whether or not the hunting ban is still in place.

James DeVellis MD on the Hunting Horn

The hunting horn is able to produce a variety of different rhythms and sounds. They are used on the hounds, who learn what each sound means. Various hunting horns exist, and dogs are trained to use differentiate between them. For instance, one horn could be used for a fox, another for a mink, a stag, or a hare, and so on. The sport of hunting was popularized by aristocrats. They turned the horn into a huge success, which in turn encouraged horn makers to come up with different designs to increase the range of notes and different sounds.

During a hunt, hounds smell their pray, and they listen to the sounds of the horn to determine what they are supposed to do. It signals direction, for instance, while also telling them about actions to take. Only the Huntsman can use the horn while the hunt is happening, although they do usually have a number of assistants who may use their horn should the dogs become unruly. Properly trained hounds, however, will not get in that situation. Most of the time, long notes signal a pause, whereas short and quick notes mean they should hurry.

A horn allows for three specific types of calls, being:

  1. Signal calls. This is a single note that allows the huntsman, staff, the hounds, and the field to communicate quickly.
  2. Sad or disappointed calls. These are long, mournful wails and tones, which calls the hounds back or indicates that a prey has been lost during the hunt. Additionally, if some of the hounds are missing, this call should bring all of them back.
  3. Doubled calls. These indicate encouragement and excitement.

One other thing that the hunting horn can do is to “draw”. As opposed to hunting a fox, the drawing sound encourages the hounds to look for a fox. The draw sound is made up of a number of light touches and, like the doubled call, creates a buzz of excitement, encouraging dogs to seek out a new prey. At the same time, it creates contact between the huntsman and the dogs, particularly if there are obstructions or distances between them, thereby making sure everybody is going in the right direction.