2. A Note on Hunting
This story uses much of the terminology of the medieval hunt, for details of which I recommend John Cummin's delightful The Hound and the Hawk: The Art of Medieval Hunting (1988). A hart is a red deer stag of at least ten points (tines on his antlers); a buck is a male fallow deer, and a roebuck is a male roe deer. Raches are running-hounds, the scenthounds that make up the pack; alaunts are stronger and more reckless smooth-coated gazehounds, often brought in to finish off boar and bear; mastiffs are larger still, rough-coated, usually considered too coarse for anything but guarding herd and home.
In a classic hart-hunt, the company assembled and its leaders decided on the precise quarry and strategy; relays of running-hounds were placed at appropriate locations along the course the quarry was expected to take; the quarry was unharboured (flushed from cover) and then the chase began. Harts were admired for their speed, endurance, and ruses for throwing the dogs off the scent; even with shrewd planning and relays of fresh hounds, a good chase often took the better part of a day. When the hart was finally worn down, he would turn at bay, defying and threatening the pack. In deference to his nobility, he ought to be slain by the highest-ranking hunter present, afoot, with a sword. After the mort (or death), there was an elaborate procedure for the proper "unmaking" (butchering) of the carcass, which also ought to be done by the highest-ranking member of the company. Finally, the hounds were rewarded with a meal of the viscera, bread soaked in the blood, and occasionally some of the meat.
This style of aristocratic hunting was considered the best possible training for war, and--aside from love and war--the only proper pursuit for a nobleman. It may not have been the only proper pursuit for a High Elf, but The Silmarillion clearly shows that many of the Noldor had a passion for the hunt.
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