18 November 2014
Fox hunting in Fluvanna
First things first: the fox is just fine. In fact, the fox (or, sometimes, coyote) is always fine when Deep Run Hunt Club holds its fox hunts. Their goal is to give their hounds, their horses, and themselves the incomparable thrill of the chase; their quarry, the wily fox, always escapes in the end.
The horses stamped their hooves and shook their heads, bridles jingling. The hounds milled about, intently watching the huntsman, eager for his signal to begin the chase. Riders finely dressed in buff breeches, knee-high glossy riding boots, and fitted jackets chatted as they waited for the hunt to commence. Sunnyside Farm, near Wilmington, was host to more than 40 fox hunters on Nov. 13; the forests, fields, and Rivanna River bottom echoed with the baying of hounds and thunder of horses’ hooves once again.
To the casual observer, little has changed since the days when George Washington and Thomas Jefferson rode to the hounds. A painting of the gathered hunters waiting on the crest of a hill on this beautiful Central Virginia autumn afternoon could be framed and hung next to a hunt print of 200 years ago, and one would be hard pressed to guess which century either painting came from. The hunters, the horses, and the hounds form an iconic image familiar to almost any Virginian.