Monday, April 24, 2017

Tally Ho!

The thrill of the fox hunt — in a land barely touched by time

The Washington Post  

The chorus of Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds has echoed in the hills of the Brandywine Valley in southern Pennsylvania for more than a century. The hunt country encompasses more than 30,000 acres that run through fields and farms near the picturesque towns of Coatesville, Unionville and Kennett Square. The hunt, beginning in 1912, is named after W. Plunket Stewart, who bought up land and hounds to begin what continues to this day as one of the finest fox hunts in the country.

As a photographer, I’m always looking to experience different slices of life with my camera. A chance to see something outside the lines of the standard sports of football, basketball and baseball that I have covered for three decades. Fox hunting fit the bill. I’ve seen the amazing fox hunt pictures by Delaware-based Jim Graham, who has photographed this particular hunt for more than 25 years. He invited me to tag along for the final race of the 2017 season. The hunt did not disappoint.

I learned the language and etiquette of the hunt. Number one is that they are hounds, not dogs. Then there is the huntsman, the field, stand, gone to ground, move off, go in, whips, whipper. I found the hunt to be kind of poetic as the hounds and the horses and riders crisscrossed the picturesque countryside while the wily fox played the game. This hunt, as most in America, is a no-kill hunt. The object of the hunt is to give chase and drive the fox back to the earth. After the fox goes to ground, the huntmaster calls off the hounds with blows from his horn, and they either go in search of another fox or call it a day.

No comments: