In older days, fox hunting was a regular event in rural Wake County. In 1947, former N&O writer Woodrow Price took a look at some traditions that were changing and some that continued to thrive.
Although a bit of the sheen has been rubbed from its glamor by present day methods, the old sport of fox hunting still is strong in North Carolina, its thousands of devotees no less enthusiastic in following the chase from trucks, jeeps and automobiles than were their forebears from horseback.
Gone to a large extent are the red hunting jackets and caps which distinguished the fox hunter of the past, and comparatively few hunters still ride to the hounds by horse. Yet, followers of the sport claim fervently that the chase is just as exciting today as it was a hundred years ago.
The old British rallying cry, “Tallyho,” sung by hunters at sight of the fox, has given way to the less romantic but equally effective “Hark” now generally used, but neither hunter nor dog appears less active because of the change.
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Henry Ford and good roads helped take the fox hunter off horseback. So it was not surprising at the annual meet of the North Carolina Fox Hunters Association ... to find most of the 500 persons who assembled for the field trials encouraging their hounds from aboard an automobile or jeep. Besides the judges, who had to get into the brush frequently, less than half a dozen of the hunters were on horseback, and only three or four red coats were in evidence.
Members of the General Assembly are aware of the large number of fox hunters in this State. Introduction of any local or public measure tending to place the fox in further jeopardy... invariably brings quick outcry from the fox hunters. The cry comes in such volume that the legislators wince when such a measure comes in and have learned that it is advisable to make hurried plans for a fishing trip in order to avoid facing certain of their constituents over the weekend....
Some of the sportsmen admitted that one of the major attractions is the post-hunt, that time of the day when the hunters sit around and brag about their dogs; tell favorite tales about sly foxes they have encountered and which, invariably, their fabulous dog had outwitted; and frequently branch out into the unbelievable in efforts to impress their hearers.
One of the most oft-repeated stories told at these assemblies, usually with many protestations as to its absolute veracity, has to do with Old Bore, a truly remarkable hound. With some variations, the story goes like this:
Old Bore displayed his greatest smartness in a three-day field meet in the western part of the State when he discovered to his dismay that six red foxes were running relays in leading him and the rest of the dogs in merry chase. The foxes were running in two-hour relays.
Old Bore, quite a game fellow, didn’t mind running for 18 hours a day, but he decided 24 was just too much. So, after noting that the judges left the field at 10 p. m. and returned at 6 a. m., he began sneaking off at 10:05 to sleep and returning at 5:55. Hence, he was running hard when the judges left and when they returned. Amazed at his endurance, they pinned every award imaginable upon him....
Col. Frank L. Page of Aberdeen ... has the following to say about fox hunts as staged in the Sand Hills:
“But if the weather should be cold, and it always is, while the cooks are serving breakfast, we call for a pitcher of boiling water that we may prepare the fox-hunter’s before-day-tonic,” known as a hot brick....
“Take a large iced tea glass and put in a heaping teaspoonful of sugar and the same of butter. Then pour in the piping hot water, stirring all the while as we fill the glasses about three-fourths to the top. The drink is then ready, except that the older members of the party whose vitality is low anyway are allowed to flavor theirs with a small portion of bottled in bond – say an ounce and a half or two ounces. These oldsters insist that this improves the flavor and effectiveness, but I can’t personally vouch for that.”
John H. Allen says that hunting in the traditional style, with all the fine trappings, still is done in the hunt clubs. But, he explains, club members hunt merely to have some purpose to their riding, with the ride as their main thrill in most instances, whereas fox hunters ride for the sake of the hunt, using the horse merely to carry them into the off-road areas which no automobile could penetrate.
Although this may be generally true, there are exceptions, for some of the fox hunters don’t feel as though it’s a hunt unless they have their red jackets and are astride a mount. The N&O 11/2/1947