About

Welcome        To Oak Ridge Fox Hunt Club
Established in 1887 and reestablished in 1993
by Dr. Rita Mae Brown MFH.

The Oak Ridge Fox Hunt Club was founded in 1887 in Lynchburg and transferred to the Oak Ridge Estate in 1910. The group was a nationally recognized hunt in Nelson County for three years, although more informal fox hunting occurred throughout Thomas Fortune Ryan’s ownership. Ryan himself was an avid hunter. The Bedford Hunt was established as the institutional successor after World War I. In 1993, Dr. Rita Mae Brown, Master of Fox Hounds, re-instituted the Fox Hunt at Oak Ridge.

Oak Ridge Fox Hunt Club has a growing membership – 75 + strong, at least half of whom hunt regularly. Many have been with us since our reestablishment in 1993. Our territory consists of Nelson County and a large portion of Buckingham County. The terrain varies dramatically from deep ravines and spurs leading up to the Blue Ridge Mountains to more open pastures and galloping country sides. The James River bisects the territory granted us by the MFHA which means we traverse many strong running feeder creeks and river branches.

The glory of Oak Ridge resides in her landowners, each of them generous to a fault and true country people. Many of our landowners don’t hunt, yet they go out and clear trails on their land, clean up jumps and they act as though we are doing them a favor by hunting over their land. You will never meet finer folk. The Oak Ridge Estate, which boasts over 5000 acres, is being restored by owners Mr. and Mrs. John C. Holland, Jr. In addition to foxhunting, the estate hosts steeplechase and harness races, game hunting and can be rented for private functions. Tea Time Farm is our home fixture as the kennels are there. Cherry Hill, owned by the gracious and doting Mrs. Anne Fortune Henderson is over 1000 acres of beautifully managed land.  Several fabulous properties owned by Mr. and Mrs. Gene Dixon, who also regularly hunt with us, have given Oak Ridge some of the most challenging territory in Virginia.

The most suitable horse for our territory is a Thoroughbred or a Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse cross. Your mount needs to have stamina and be handy. Warmbloods and Draft crosses are increasing in popularity, so you’ll see several in our field on any given day.

The requirements for membership are that you genuflect before the Masters, you stay out of the hounds’ way and you possess a good sense of humor because you’ll need it. If you cap with us a few times you’ll know if we’re the hunt for you. We respect the traditions of this greatest of sports without being haughty. The Oak Ridge members are warm, delightful people and if they have a motto surely it is: A stranger is a friend I haven’t met yet.

Our Field Masters, Hilltoppers’ Masters and Third Flight Master will put you where the action is. All of them love hunting and extend themselves to their field. The real stars of our show are the hounds. Since the foxes think they are the stars it makes for a combustible mixture. Oak Ridge has 35 couple of hounds – mostly American Foxhounds, some crossbred. No matter whether your heart is with the fox or the hound, you’ll have a good time even on those odd days when it’s 80� (in November no less). Usually the fox wears sunglasses on those hot days.

Our formal season usually begins the first Sunday in November: Sundays are formal and Fridays are informal. We now go out two Wednesdays a month which are also be informal. The season ends on the Sunday closest to March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day. (Lots of Irish blood in our human pack!) Cubbing will begin again the first Friday after Labor Day.

Recent Posts

Masters Report March, 2017

You can describe the last part of our season as an artist would describe his or her income: chicken one day, feathers the next. 74° followed by snow flurries at Cherry Hill, snow and ice yesterday and today, March 14.

The foxes don’t care. We’ve had one slow day and one blank day, sure there was a boo-hoo but pretty much it was blank. The other hunts varied from long runs on one fox to foxes everywhere, a convention of foxes.

Sunday, March 5 the fixture was moved to Tea Time Farm. Maria cast up the creek from The Arena, always a nice cast to settle the bank, focus them as the creek is on their left and woods are on their right. They hit. Sounded great. I drove up to St. Thomas Equinus sign and waited. If hounds turned right, one can quickly follow, if left, stay put.

They circled, some of emerging in the large pasture at the sign, the southern pasture, then they dipped back into the woods and the cutover area. On a hunch, I have no idea why but I guess that’s the definition of a hunch, I drove down toward the now hanging by one hook old Tea Time farm sign, passed the stone jump, such a pleasant jump, reached the red gate and stopped. Listened some more.

Hounds kept circling, speaking. I opened the gate, walked into the field, stood still. To my left the hunted fox walking, not terribly concerned, crossed the farm road, sauntered into the pasture where I stood, paraded himself in front of me, shot the bird, walked to the remnants of the hidden pile and the old large round drag, paused so that I could admire his person, looked at the jump there, listened. Hounds cross the road so he trotted into the woods. A mid-sized red, full winter coat, quite a handsome fellow. I wonder was he auditioning for a part in the Sister Jane series? Never underestimate the ego of fox.

Maria heard my “Tally Ho”, rode up. She urged hounds to the spot where he trotted into the woods and they opened like the organ in St. John’s Cathedral. All voices raised, all on. They flew. What a thrilling sound.

On and on they flew. After three hours, Maria lifted them, turned for home and wouldn’t you know, they hit in the cutover cornfield, over at the slough of despond (remember your Pilgrims Progress). She and the whippers-in finally convinced them to move along.

A couple of hounds, footsore from the long hard runs over hard ground and rock in some places, needed to sit out the next three hunts. Yes, there were some hound noses out of joint but they’ll be out Friday, March 17 and Sunday, March 19, Closing Hunt.

This is why green tins of bag balm are in our little medicine chest. Works. Works for us, too but hope no one takes a notion to run over our territory barefoot.

Both Emert and Chellowe provided good runs.

What a glorious memory our Fall 2016, Winter 2017 will be. Our 24th year.

Which brings me to a preaching moment. May we have more and more years. May your grandchildren’s grandchildren have the good fortune to celebrate the bounty and beauty of Nature. Focus, thought, political engagement and doing all we can to secure property is the way. So think. Look ahead and look around. Let’s preserve all this for those who come after us including the foxes.

 

 

 

HISTORY

Kathleen King kindly agreed to work with the Nelson County Historical Society in the hopes of a fox hunting display. Some kind soul gave the society the first hunting horn used by Oak Ridge back in 1887. She’ll give us updates and marching orders.

 

ANIMAL SAFETY IN CRISIS

The fire at the large clapboard house perhaps a quarter of a mile up the road from Ashley’s got many of us thinking. Fortunately the people and five dogs made it to safety. One kitty is missing. Don’t know if she has been found.

Animal rescue and/or our fire department have no trailers to transport large animals in need. We can get the fire department a list of people with trailers but in an emergency at a farm it would be much better if the equipment was with them.

Once hunting season is over and once I’ve returned from a small tour, I’ll talk to Bette Graham, the founder and head of Almost Home. More than anyone, Bette has worked with county agencies. She’ll know the steps to take. None of us want to make a misstep. I have no idea of jurisdictions, etc. I just know our fire and animal rescue often lack this equipment.

Mark Catron has spoken to a few people and he thinks Southern States will put up some funds for a trailer. Another person with a wealth of knowledge is Dr. Jessica Ligon so I will talk to her early April. Dr. Ligon is our hounds’ vet. Apart from her skill she is very practical. There you have it. We’ll keep you posted.

 

POWER WASHER

After a hunt at the tailgate, you all heard the lament of the power washer. Unless you have a commercial grade power washer, a used one is about $5500 (I’ve been looking), if you squeeze two years out of them, good. Everyone politely listened. Mark said he would raise the money. He did not. He went out and bought a new Troy Built power washer, delivered it himself to the farm.

Hounds thank you, John and Toot thank you and I thank you.

 

VETERAN’S HUNT

Bob Satterfield spoke to Gene Dixon. The hunt would be more fun, easier to do in the fall. He was very willing to allow Chellowe and to be the venue. Gene, generous to a fault, has made so much land available to us over the years, when I tell other masters the acreage we have to hunt that is private land not state parks or state forests, all are astonished unless they are west of the Mississippi waters. Lynn Lloyd has joint meets in California at a fixture that is 80,000 acres. We’re all lucky.

 

MAKE-UP HUNTS

The weather, wildly unpredictable, worked against make-up hunts. I refuse to hunt into April because the vixens are heavy. Usually they stay close to their den but should anyone go further, we can’t take that chance.

In a normal season we average about 62 to 66 hunts per season, depending on where the holidays fall. That is a good average. If I add in the second and fourth Wednesdays for September and October that bumps it up by four hunts. I would really like to add every Wednesday after Opening Hunt. The more hounds go out, the better for the pack. The afternoon hunts are small fields because not many of you get off work but we have never had a blank Wednesday. Should I write that? Will it jinx the future? I don’t think so. That 4 o’clock fox keeps a precise timetable plus he’s hungry. But if we don’t have the staff to do every Wednesday after Opening Hunt, we can at least keep to our second and fourth Wednesdays.

 

Rita Mae

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