*No animals were harmed in the making of this story*
Recently, dozens of men and women donned their dandiest riding jackets and mounted their steeds for the first day of fox hunting season at the Woodbrook Hunt Club.
"Today is our opening day hunt. It's our 91st season. Not my 91st season, but the 91st year for the club," Jennifer Hansen clarified from beneath the brim of her black velvet riding helmet. "We're expecting about fifty to seventy riders… our hounds will look for the scent. We follow them... sometimes for up to three or four miles."
Jennifer is the huntsman for the Woodbrook Hunt Club near Joint Base Lewis McChord. Her job is to follow the hounds as they chase the scent of a red fox across the wilderness of the J.B.L.M. training grounds. The rest of the hunting party follows her through the woods, over fallen trees and across picturesque prairie-land. It's a sight to behold. A window into centuries past.
But not all the members of Woodbrook are here for the nostalgia. Some say its just a fun thing to do with their horse.
"You know, if you love horses and you love dogs and hounds its just the best thing you can do on a Saturday or Sunday," veteran fox hunter Melody Fleckenstein said. "The best compliment we got was a few weeks ago someone said this is the most fun you can have with your pants on. Anyone can come out here. Its not about having a fancy horse or fancy tack. Its fun to watch the hounds work a scent. Some people ride to hunt others hunt to ride but either way its all about having fun."
The foxes are also having a blast. Being chased across the countryside, running as fast as they can in their tennis shoes.
"I'm one of the three foxes for today's hunt and we're going to be laying the trail," Simon Chapman said.
Simon is human. He is also British.
"That means dragging a lure across country to lay a scent which the hounds will hunt. The lure is very simple. Its just a piece of burlap we drag with a dog leash with the scent of the game animal."
The Woodbrook Hunt Club uses synthetic fox urine for scent but Simon says some hunt clubs use real fox urine. Gross.
Once Jennifer blows her shiny, brass, bugle-like horn, the hunt is on!
The foxes fun into the woods laying the trail followed by a beautiful, thundering recreation of this ancient pastime of the elite.
Wanna learn more about the Woodbrook Hunt Club? Click here.