Horses and Hounds (The Hunt)
The Thrill of the Chase
The traditional fox hunt, or “riding to the hounds” in Southern Maryland is steeped in history and tradition, dating back to 1650, when Robert Brooke Sr., a colonial governor of Maryland, is said to have emigrated with his wife, 10 children, 28 servants, and a pack of hounds. Today, more than four centuries later, the De La Brooke Foxhounds W Hunt Club bears his name, and keeps the tradition of fox chasing alive.
According to the club’s historian and former Master of the Foxhounds, Eugene Guazzo, M.D., “It sort of began in the 1930s and started, as all hunting clubs do, with a group of convivial friends having a mutual interest and the resources for making riding to hounds possible … lots of land.”
Fox hunting waned in the 1940s due to World War II, but interest rekindled after the war. The hunt in those days was known as the Wicomico Hunt, but when the club applied for recognition by the Masters of Foxhounds, the members learned of a hunt on the Eastern Shore of Maryland named Wicomico Hunt. In 1972, the club changed its name to De La Brooke Foxhounds W in order to gain Masters of Foxhounds recognition.
Through arrangement with private landowners, the club hunts in St. Mary’s, Charles and Calvert counties from October to March. The club hunts on one public land, the Newtown Neck State Park, located in St. Mary’s County.
Mount Victoria, a privately owned home in Charles County overlooking the Potomac River, is the site of the annual opening meet, with riders gathering on the hill by the house to receive the traditional blessing of the hounds before starting off on the first formal hunt of the season. Closing hunt is traditionally held in late March at Keechland, another privately owned home in Charles County.
In addition to riding to the hounds, members enjoy a formal Hunt Ball, trail rides, a fox chasing camp, hunter paces and other social events throughout the year. If interested in learning more about the club, visit www.delabrookefoxhounds.com.