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Tally Ho! It's a Fox Hunt!

The men of Tazewell and McLean County had a rather irregular fox hunt on this date 100 years ago. The reporter described "a countryside broken with rugged ravines and almost impenetrable canyons" along the Mackinaw and a region close to its "primitive state" when the "Indians" still lived on the land. In the caves and caverns along the river were foxes and one was placed ahead of the hounds at the start of the hunt.

But these men were not content to follow the age old tradition of a chase only on horseback -- they brought their automobiles and pursued the fox and dogs across the countryside in under the power of combustion engines. Of course the autos could only go on the roads, but they madly raced to follow the rest of the hunt that followed on horseback in the traditional manner.

The hunt took place over a three day period and was hosted by Charles Amerman. Not every dog was brought to the hunt because a fox hunt had taken place the previous week in Woodford County and some of the dogs needed to rest. Fox hunts had been taking place in an organized manner for the past three years, and there was a great deal of enthusiam for the sport.

A fox was trapped and kept overnight to be released for the hunt the following day. Twenty minutes after the fox was released, the dogs were set upon him and the chase began. TWenty one hounds were present, baying after the fox. The chase on horseback went on for about an hour and a half, until the fox regained his hole and escaped the dogs. The men hunted at night to find the next day's fox, flushing out wolves as well as foxes in the night. The hunt was followed by spectators on foot as well and plans were made for a ladies' day the following year.

As you can see from this picture from the Pantagraph, there were no red hunting jackets or riding caps among these Illinois fox hunters/farmers. but all had a rousing good time and planned many more hunts in the future.


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