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hunting 2012-2013

July 28, 2022

dear Landowners, Subscribers and Friends,

Before describing the many upcoming Middleburg Hunt events this season, we thought we would say a few words about the Middleburg foxhounds.  We are prompted to do so because of good questions we’ve been asked recently by foxhunters and non-foxhunters. One thing that is for sure: the sport of foxhunting is about the hounds.

The first thing to keep in mind is that foxhounds are scent hounds; they are not sight hounds. They don’t see the quarry and run after it; they smell the quarry and track it with their noses. The stronger the scent, the stronger the cry. Hounds go as fast as their noses will allow. The better the nose, the faster the day.

That’s why the breeding program is so important. You breed for good noses, and similar noses in sensitivity so the pack stays together and works as a team. Noses vary. Some hounds have colder noses than others, meaning some can track quarry with less scent. Cold nose hounds smell every track and go at a relatively slow pace. Some surfaces hold scent better than others. A damp trail in the woods holds scent better than a dry asphalt road. The pack should have similar noses so they hunt at the same speed and travel together over all surfaces.

You also breed hounds for strong conformation; well-made hounds hold up when asked to hunt for hours at a time. Similar conformation is desirable so hounds can go at the same speed and, again, so they can work as a team.

Our American hounds were bred for this Virginia hunt country. Their big voices and compact bodies are suited to the dense woodlands of this countryside. They are intense and confident in their ability to stay with a fox. They don’t have to smell every track to keep going forward. Sometimes their keen attitude will cause them to overrun the line if the fox changes direction quickly. At that point they stop speaking and all you can hear is the foot fall of the hounds as they work to recover the line.  The huntsman must sit patiently and wait for a hound to speak indicating the hound has found the line. The other hounds then honor the hound who has spoken and off they go again. That is why we take so many hounds. When hounds lose the scent they cast themselves in a wide area to re-find the line. The more hounds, the wider the area that can be searched. The quicker the line is recovered, the fresher the scent.

Hounds learn what is quarry and what is riot: riot meaning that which hounds should not chase. They are taught by the huntsman and the other hounds what is acceptable to chase. As they learn, young hounds are guided by the approval and disapproval of the older more experienced hounds. When you hear a Middleburg hound speak, you know the hound is right and is speaking on accepted quarry, not on a deer or other riot.

A pack of hounds has a complicated job to do; it is far from simple. The Middleburg hounds are honest, persistent, keen, respectful and admired and loved by all of us. When you hear 20 couple (= 40) of them open in full cry echoing through the woodlands of the Virginia countryside, there is no better or more exciting sound. How many sports can match those chills sent up your spine?

Anticipating this coming season, we thank our hardworking staff: our huntsman, Richard Roberts, our honorary whipper-in and field secretary, Carey Shefte, our stable manager, Sherry Hanscom, and our new professional whipper-in, Brady Cully. They are busy preparing for hunting and our many activities. Below are dates to save for this Fall season.


All of these events bring us back to the importance we place on this community tradition of foxhunting.  Our sport continues to face challenges, the greatest of which are maintaining open space in the face of aggressive development and defending ourselves against legislative and governmental actions that may restrict our sport.

We cherish our beautiful countryside and hope to preserve it for future generations. As we have said before, our generous landowners make foxhunting possible.  Each piece of land, large or small, is key to the sport for which the Middleburg countryside is known. 

Every year more acres in the Middleburg Hunt territory are being protected.  Landowners are leading in this concerted community-wide effort to put land in permanent easement and are taking advantage of significant savings in their federal and state taxes.  These favorable tax laws may not always exist. We are hopeful that the Middleburg Hunt will be able to celebrate hunting for many years to come and would like the opportunity to discuss and to assist our landowners in any way to preserve our hunting country.  Please feel free to contact us. 

Please remember that hunting is a special privilege we enjoy thanks to the generosity of our landowners.  When not hunting, you must obtain specific permission from landowners for cross-country riding privileges.  These are our neighbors and should be treated with due respect. 

Legislators respond to numbers. All foxhunting enthusiasts, who are interested in preserving the sport, whether you ride or spectate, should become Subscribing Members of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, the national organization for mounted foxhunting.  By increasing the numbers of foxhunting supporters on the MFHA roster, more voices will be heard at the State Capitals where legislation detrimental to our sport frequently appears.  Now is the time to be counted among those who love the sport.  Your subscription includes the MFHA’s national publication, Covertside, and a handsome bumper sticker that will identify you as a foxhunting enthusiast.  To subscribe, visit the MFHA website www.mfha.org.  We encourage all to join.

If you are interested in becoming a Middleburg Hunt subscriber for the 2018-2019 season, please contact one of the Masters.  We remind you of our growing category of subscriber, called “Social Subscriber.”  Social Subscribers are invited to all hunt functions and are afforded the privileges of all other subscribers, with the exception of riding to hounds.  These non-hunting subscribers are some of our most enthusiastic and add a wonderful dimension to our hunt family. 

The category of subscription called Young Adults has been quite successful. It affords foxhunters age 22 to 28 the opportunity to subscribe at a reduced rate.  As always, children under 14 (with an adult) hunt for free, and juniors age 14 to 21 hunt for a nominal fee.  We want everyone to be able to afford to learn about hunting and ensure the future of our sport.

Autumn hunting will be here before you know it. It’s not too early to get your hunting license. Required by the Commonwealth of Virginia, you can obtain your small game hunting license
online by going to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources at www.dwr.virginia.gov/licenses/.

We look forward to sharing the upcoming foxhunting season with all of you.  We remind you that for updates, information and to contact the Masters by e-mail, please visit our website, www.middleburghunt.com. You may also visit us on Facebook.

On our website are our Hunting Guidelines that we wrote especially for our subscribers and updated recently. In preparation for the upcoming season, we suggest that you read them to refresh your memory about these common-sense rules that are meant to make the sport as safe and as much fun as possible.  By maintaining the traditions of the sport, we will maintain its beauty and, with a little luck, its longevity.

We encourage you to share with us your e-mail address.  We use e-mail to communicate information about upcoming activities and timely announcements. So, please send your name, address, phone number and e-mail address to info@middleburghunt.com.

In the event of last-minute changes, we advise subscribers to check the Kennel tape at (540) 687-8411 each hunting day before you leave for the meet.

Our phone numbers and e-mail addresses are listed below.  We always enjoy hearing from you and hope you will share your thoughts, suggestions and ideas; they do not go unnoticed.  What is important to you is important to the Masters.




Jeffrey M. Blue, M.F.H.                         Mrs. John B. Denegre, M.F.H.                         Timothy B. Harmon
(540)687-5759                                      (540)687-6069                                                  (202)596-5117