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Traditional fox hunt hosted by Halifax County farms

In the autumn Kelly Gordon of Springfield Farm and Denise Hudson of Hudson Heritage Farms pooled their finances while attending a local fundraiser and purchased the opportunity to observe a traditional fox hunt. 

Last weekend the event was hosted at a farm in the Elmo community. The actual fox hunters were with the Sedgefield Hunt Club which is a traditional fox hunting club from North Carolina. The registered club has been in existence for almost 80 years.

Fox hunting with hounds and horses began several hundred years ago in England and was known to have occurred in Virginia during the times of George Washington. 

Historically the social elite would gather together to spend a day observing the hounds chasing the fox across the fields and forest while dressed in their best riding attire, then afterward share food and beverage. 

The Gordons and Hudsons accompanied by their guests were told they would ride behind the hounds and horses on the Tally Ho wagon and afterward share in the hunt breakfast. 

As the day of the event arrived, though quite chilly, it was a beautifully clear day in the country. The horses were groomed, the saddles were polished, and the horsemen and women were dressed in their finest attire. 

Elmo’s “social elite” on the other hand, were dressed in bib overalls, jeans and wearing their muck boots while wrapped warmly in coats, sweaters and gloves. 

The Master Huntsman explained to the group some of the history and tradition involved, the significance of the riders clothing and their colors, and the meaning of some of the terminology specifically used in fox hunting. 

As an example, the hounds, never called dogs, are what chase the fox, and the meal associated with the hunt is called the “hunt breakfast” no matter what time of day it is served. 

He further explained a person riding an ATV would have a rag soaked with coyote urine and would drag it across the fields and through the woods so the hounds would have a scent to follow.   

After the brief history lesson it was soon time for the pageantry to begin. The Master Huntsman blew a small horn, and then the chase was on. 

Apparently the Tally Ho wagon was not available for the socialites from Elmo, so everyone hopped on ATVs and followed the horses across the field, in traditional Elmo style. 

For the next several hours, horses, hounds and ATVs could be seen going in all directions.

At about 5 p.m. the dogs were loaded in the back of the truck, the horses were watered, and the hunters and spectators were served a delicious “hunt breakfast” of beef stroganoff, with mini ham biscuits and boiled shrimp for appetizers, followed by a fantastic chocolate cake.

After the meal, the horses were loaded into their fancy trailers, and the folks from Elmo all headed home in their pickup trucks. 

Though not a fox or coyote had been seen all day, everyone agreed it was a special day, and fun was had by all.