- The Washington Times - Friday, December 1, 2006

CULPEPER COUNTY, Va. — On any given Saturday during Virginia’s fox-hunting season, which runs from the end of October to the end of March, 30 to 40 men and women dress up in tidy red jackets, riding helmets with a tiny bow in the back, and tan and black boots.

Some, even, with a tapered glass flask filled with a tasty concoction including Schnapps strapped to their belts. Sharing a bond together, they take part in an old British tradition, mounted on their horses hot on the trail of the elusive, sly fox.

Under clear sky and warm sun, mounted, the huntsman sounds the horn, the hounds scatter, noses to the leaves and grass on the ground, working feverishly to pick up the scent, the chorus of howling voices reach the angels looking down upon them, moving around in a blurry swirl of motion until they hit, and the chase is on. But foxes are very intelligent animals and the hounds rarely even get close enough to hurt them, and the riders on their trusty steeds behind the hounds

are even farther away.

On one Saturday in Culpeper County, a red fox appeared out from a grove of pines, and bolted a sharp right, the hounds right behind him kept on straight, right out of a comedy, they lost the trail and the beautiful fox got away again. Red foxes go into tunnels underground, and gray foxes climb trees, the hounds go back to the kennels and life continues on.

But to these fox hunters, who come from all walks of life, getting close enough to enjoy the sight of this incredible animal is not the end all. Just being out in the open, on the meadows, in the forests, cutting through pines and jumping over logs, with galloping horses, their breath streaming through their noses in the cool air. Being with each other and sharing stories back at the club house over hot chocolate and good home made food is what it’s all about.

Today they are lucky with plenty of elbow room to hunt. They may not be so fortunate in the years to come as their territory is shrinking with the impending hand of developers and their bulldozers and the

wave of humanity, crowding into the land of the fox.

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