Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Hounds of Hope

This past weekend, I experienced a unique southern tradition for the first time.  I went to the second largest fox hunt in the country.  I found myself on nearly 2000 acres of land dedicated to displaying the prowess of the fox hound.   A very special group of people have been coordinating this hunt annually to benefit The Turbeville FWB Home for Children where my father is the director. They worked tirelessly to produce a massive amount of community support for the cause and care of children in need.  It was humbling to see the crowds gathered to enjoy a hunt and support some wonderful children that are currently without homes. 

It was not the European fox hunt of fairy tales, I can assure you of this.  However, it was family and friends and over 400 fox hounds enjoying a chilly, southern Saturday.  Promptly at 7 a.m., the dogs were released.  The hound pens were opened and hundreds of dogs took to the forest in search of the foxes and coyotes.  The rush of the hounds, the volume of their barking, and the excitement in their step was something to witness.

I was certainly a novice on this sport.  I had never been to a fox hunt or a field trial.  My husband, on the other hand, spent many days of his youth at such events and even judged field trials on the weekends.  Basically, my understanding of the hunt goes something like this:

The dogs are released without their master to follow.
The judges go into the forest with the dogs and watch their responses during the hunt. 
There is no (intentional) killing of foxes or coyotes as part of the hunt.
If an animal is hurt (fox, coyote, or dog), it is promptly removed and taken in for care.
There are pipes all through the fox pen that provide refuge for both fox and coyote to escape the dogs.
The hunt is simply a display of the hunting qualities in the hounds. 
Dog owners are very proud of their hounds.

The hunt lasted most of the day.  While the dogs were busy tracking the scents, the crowd began an auction.  The entire proceeds went to the Children's Home.  Everything from Carhartt coats and  kitchen sinks were sold to support these children.  Many times I saw individuals purchase things that were not valuable in the least, and take them straight to to the fire rings to be used as "fuel" to keep the crowd warm.  They were there to really show their support. It touched my heart deeply.

The day dwindled to an end.  The dogs were brought back in, trophies were distributed,  and one by one the hunters left.  At the end of the evening, we settled in with the fine folks that coordinate everything for dinner to celebrate the success of the day.  Many, many dollars were raised.  Bodies were worn out and tummies were empty.  But, just a few miles down the road a group of children slept warmly in their beds with full tummies and a place to call home.  These children were safe, loved, and happy in large part because of some fox hounds, willing hearts, and a loving community. 

For that, I will fox hunt any day!

B Charmer

Please feel free to contact me if you would like further info on the services provided by The Turbeville FWB Children's Home.  Their services are free to any families in need.  It is a wonderful place working very hard to serve children, and dedicated to putting families back together.


  1. what an interesting event. it sounds without a doubt worthy, and i have not heard of one where the fox was not injured.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. It was a new experience for me, for sure. I was thrilled at how well the animals were cared for.

  2. contrary to what anyone has heard, all the fox pens, that have been closed to running dogs now tried as much as possible to keep the animals from being hurt. if hurt they were taken to pens and treated. most american fox hunting is a family experience that has been done for years. there are still fox hunts done in the forests, state parks with permits and make the state a lot of money every year. but, because of mis represented idears from people that dont really know how it is done a lot of families lost a way of making a living.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Joe. You are right that many people don't understand the hunt. I thought it was great and a perfect way to teach kids about community!


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