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Cumberland Today Sports

Junior members of the Deep Run Hunt Club pal around with the clubs hounds. The average fox hunt requires 2,000 contiguous acres to execute, making fox hunters some of the most avid proponents of rural preservation.

By Katie Bo Williams
Contributing writer

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Photo by Katie Bo Williams

Hunt club making good on pledge to preserve states natural resources

wenty minutes south of Cartersville, a pack of close to 80 fox hounds bay from their kennel runs, giving tongue to trailers of horses pulling into the driveway.

At 8 oclock on a Saturday morning, members of the Deep Run Hunt Club will ride through the local countryside surrounding Route 45. They are not hunting at this time of year, but getting horses and hounds fit for the coming season. The Deep Run kennels have called Cumberland County home since 2003, when building development in Goochland forced the club to look farther west for sufficient land to enjoy their sport. The average fox hunt requires 2,000 contiguous acres to execute, making fox hunters

some of the most avid proponents of rural preservation. Deep Run is a proactive member of the local community, organizing trail-clearing efforts, volunteering with the state forest and providing education on the benefits of conservation easements. For fox hunters, this kind of communityminded outlook is essential to the future of the sport. Master of Fox Hounds Rod Smyth estimates that between 80 to 90 percent of the land that the club hunts over is not owned by

club members, but by local landowners with whom the club has a relationship. In the early 1950s, when the club made its first move west from the Monument Avenue area to Goochland County, club board members purchased large tracts of land for the club to hunt over. Now, the club must rely on outside landowners like Dr. Julian Metts and Catherine Baber Fleischman. Fleischman is not an active member of see Hounds > 9

Cumberland Today August 14, 2013

continued from > 9 the club, but is an entrenched member of the clubs community and a vocal proponent of the relationship between fox hunting and land ownership as the pathway to the protection of rural living. I am a landowner who is truly vested in the benefits that fox hunting can bring to a rural community because it is a group of individuals who are interested in rural preservation, Fleischman said. Like most sophisticated hunting organizations, the fox hunting community takes pride in its naturalist approach to the country that it enjoys. The club works with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and the Virginia Master Naturalist Program, a statewide volunteer corps, which, according to its mission statement provides education, outreach and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. Its not just that we ride horses, its that we are naturalists in the sense that any hunter is a naturalist, Fleischman said. They have to be aware of habitat and game and land issues and conservation in order to truly appreciate the sport. Some Virginia hunt clubs have taken a proactive approach to land preservation, requiring members to contribute to the longevity of the sport by either owning land themselves or by contributing to a land fund. The fund monies are used to purchase huntable country and place hunting or conservation easements on the property, which is then sold. Although the face value of the land might be diminished by any easement

Bear Creek Lake to offer Fishin in the Park clinics

Contributed report

Photo by Katie Bo Williams

Master of Fox Hounds Rod Smyth plays with one of Deep Run Hunt Clubs fox hound puppy.

placed on it, there are significant tax advantages associated with state-approved conservation easements. Deep Run is beginning to explore a similar model on a more modest scale. Fleischman, along with Smyth and club member Caroline Eichler, have begun studying the options of putting together a land fund intended to purchase small key tracts of land in the clubs hunt country. The club is currently active in Goochland, Fluvanna and Cumberland counties. Sometimes you can have a parcel thats as little as 10 or 15 acres but might be in a very strategic position within the country, a critical way for the staff (huntsman managing the hounds) or the field (riders) to get from one place to another, Smyth said. You can purchase and put both a conservation and a hunting easement on it. You acknowledge that you might sell it for less than you buy it for, but you preserve it for hunting. Smyth and Fleischman emphasized the community

benefits of this kind of activity. Smyth used the Goochland property Sabot Hill as an example of the financial as well as the social benefits of the preservation of open space. Development in the Sabot Hill area is restricted by an extensive series of easements and the value of the properties is augmented as a result. Smyth, a resident of the Sabot Hill area, emphasized that purchasers are willing to pay a premium because of the assurance that they will never have a housing development built in their back yard. For Fleischman, the two benefits financial and social are inseparable. She and her family are longtime landowners in Cumberland, and she said she believes that there needs to be a paradigm shift for natural places to be valuable for what they provide: places to ride or live near, as opposed to what they are used for such as lumber or development. We have to realize that open spaces are valuable and

those that have open spaces benefit financially from them; otherwise, they wont have any open spaces, Fleischman said. Thats why I wake up every morning in Cumberland County and try to live this standard that promotes the financial and social benefit that combine to make open spaces prevalent and important. Smyth summed up the clubs proactive efforts as a part of a larger, important community effort to preserve those open spaces. The more land is put into easements, the more everybody who appreciates the countryside benefits, Smyth said. Fox hunting is just a subset of that. We just happen to be a group with a vested interest just like deer hunting clubs. Anyone who is interested in walking, riding or hunting on the land, clearly, the first thing they need is land. Cumberland is not at immediate risk of extensive development, but that doesnt mean it will be that way forever.

On Sept. 15, 22 and 29, Bear Creek Lake State Park, in cooperation with the Va. Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Angler Education Program, will offer fishing clinics open to all ten years old and older, but geared especially to youth and beginning anglers. Each program will begin at 1 p.m. and last about three hours. During the program, participants will learn angling skills such as casting, line knot tying, reeling in the big one, uses of different types of lures, aquatic habitats and fish biology. Lessons will be held on shore, so no fishing license is required for those over age 16. Children under 12 years old must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult. At the end of each clinic, those under age 16 and those older with a valid Virginia fresh water fishing license can try out their skills in the lake. This is a great opportunity for a family picnic while participants learn to handle rod and reel. All equipment will be provided. There is no fee for this program, although the Parks daily weekend parking fee of $3 per vehicle will apply. Only 15 spaces per clinic are available. To register for any of the dates, or for information, contact the Park at, or call (804) 4924410. Bear Creek Lake State Park is located at 22 Bear Creek Lake Rd. in Cumberland. *** On Saturday mornings in September, from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., Bear Creek Lake State Park will offer a Youth Archery Course for 9 to 16 year olds. This is a four session activity to be held September 7, 14, 21 and 28. The program will teach the fundamentals of archery technique and equipment using compound and recurve bows. Each week will feature increased skills and challenges covering beginning and intermediate archery. Completion of the four-day program will entitle participants to a Bear Creek Lake State Park Archer Certificate. A friendly competition will be held the final day, with family and friends invited. In the event of cancellation of a day due to inclement weather, the program will be extended into October to make up any missed days. All equipment will be provided for use during the program. Water and snacks will be provided.Cost for the four-day session is $15. Only 10 spaces are available. To register for the program, or for more information, please contact the park at bearcreek@dcr.virginia. gov, or (804) 492-4410.

Cumberland Today

August 14, 2013