Ready for the chase

Mock fox hunt­ing event tak­ing place on P.E.I. this week­end, par­tially in Prince County

Journal Pioneer - - FRONT PAGE - BY COLIN MACLEAN Colin.MacLean@Jour­nalPioneer.com @Jour­nalPMacLean

Jean­nie MacLean is go­ing to re­live a piece of her child­hood this week­end.

Maclean, of North St. Eleanors, is go­ing fox hunt­ing – sort of.

Th­ese days the ‘hunt’ doesn’t ac­tu­ally in­clude any liv­ing prey. In­stead, it’s more about recre­at­ing the tra­di­tion of the English-style fox hunt, in all its pageantry and ex­cite­ment, with­out the con­tro­ver­sial prac­tice of hunt­ing live foxes. Grow­ing up in Man­i­toba, MacLean par­tic­i­pated in a fox hunt­ing club but hasn’t done so in the years since she came to P.E.I.

How­ever, she re­cently dis­cov­ered the sport is ac­tive on P.E.I. when Pat Upte­grove, of the Emer­ald Is­land Hunt Club, con­tacted her. Upte­grove and her group have part­nered with the An­napo­lis Val­ley Hunt Club in Nova Sco­tia for the past sev­eral years to hold an an­nual event in P.E.I. Upte­grove asked MacLean if she was in­ter­ested in host­ing part of this year’s hunt and MacLean jumped at the chance.

“It’s the ex­cite­ment of it,” said MacLean.

“It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great so­cial thing to get to­gether with friends, and meet new friends.” Upte­grove said she wanted to ap­proach some­one on this side of the Is­land be­cause she’s been get­ting in­quiries from peo­ple here in­ter­ested in the sport. “We’ve found there are quite a num­ber of rid­ers up in Prince County who have heard of us and wanted to know how they could join in,” she said.

The two clubs are join­ing to­gether Fri­day and hold­ing an ex­er­cise on a prop­erty near Kens­ing­ton.

Satur­day is their main hunt event, which is held on Upte­grove’s Hum­ming­bird Hill farm, near Mon­tague. It will in­volve all the same trap­pings and rules of a tra­di­tional Bri­tish hunt, but in­stead of chas­ing a live an­i­mal the hounds will fol­low ar­ti­fi­cial scent mark­ers left by a drag-line from a horse or ATV. This process will be re­peated sev­eral times through­out the day. Then on Sun­day they’ll be com­ing to the South­west Lot 16 area to ex­plore some new ter­ri­tory. This event will not in­volve the lay­ing of any ar­ti­fi­cial scent, so in­stead of chas­ing some­thing spe­cific, the fox­hounds will be al­lowed to fol­low what­ever scents they hap­pen to find.

There is no dan­ger to wildlife as the hounds are not trained to kill what they track, said Upte­grove.

Ex­plor­ing new ter­ri­tory is al­ways an ex­it­ing op­por­tu­nity, she added, for the rid­ers and their an­i­mals.

“It’s the thrill, and the chal­lenge,” she said.

Any­one in­ter­ested in learn­ing about fox hunt­ing on P.E.I. can con­tact Upte­grove at hum­ming­bird­hill11@icloud.com.

COLIN MACLEAN/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Jean­nie MacLean, of North St. Eleanors, and her horse Billy-Joe will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in an English-style fox hunt and as­so­ci­ated events here on P.E.I. this week­end. A scent marker is used in­stead of a live fox for the event.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Emer­ald Is­land Hunt Club of P.E.I. and the An­napo­lis Val­ley Hunt Club of Nova Sco­tia have been join­ing to­gether for an an­nual fox hunt on P.E.I. for a num­ber of years.

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