As hunt clubs around the country prepare for the upcoming season, many have enacted new policies to keep their members safe and help them follow CDC-recommended social distancing protocols. Many have already begun testing out some of these new rules during summer activities, such as during hound exercises or hunt trail rides. Even though socializing with other members is one of the best parts of hunting, club leaders are trying to come up with suitable plans to still allow everyone to enjoy the sport they love.
Here are a few tips from members:
1. Snack Hacks
Many clubs are re-thinking the idea of the breakfast/tea after a hunt and suggest that members bring their own refreshments. Even then, members are encouraged to spread out at a safe distance while socializing. And if the hunt has a club house that typically hosts members during these post-hunt breakfasts, members are advised to eat outside where there’s more room.
If your hunt is still working on a simplified version of their typical breakfasts, they might try this idea from one of Lowcountry Hunt’s members. Share individually packaged snacks or separate pre-cleaned fruit at home. Voila -- safe snacking!
2. Paperwork & Payments Online
Many clubs have updated all of their membership forms, waivers, and payment options to be done online. In this day and age of technological conveniences, there are dozens of ways to accomplish this.
“We are strongly encouraging everyone to complete all forms virtually to reduce contact for our field secretary,” says Sarah Jacobson, who serves as Secretary of Wentworth Hunt in New England. “We also took this approach for our hunter paces and made everyone register and pay online in advance of the event.”
3. Masks Whenever Possible
In many parts of the country, masks are required for group gatherings—and some clubs have enacted this policy for their own hunts. Most are encouraging their members to wear masks when unmounted, but some are even requiring their members to wear them the entire time.
“We made the mask policy over a month ago for our summer trail rides,” says DJ Jefferis, one of the MFH’s of Green Creek Hounds (NC). “All functions on hunt property (hound walking at the kennel on foot, roading in the woods, or hunting) you must have a mask on from the time you get out of your truck until you get back in. The huntsman may remove his mask after he casts off, but he hasn't yet. Whips may remove theirs when they are away doing their job, but as they approach the field the masks must go back on.
“We all hate the masks, but we all want to hunt. Seems to be a small price to pay,” Jefferis adds.
“Honestly, after a while I forget I'm even wearing a mask,” says Leslie Threlkeld Bryant, who hunts with Green Creek Hounds, along with her mother, Lenore Threlkeld. “We're just glad to be out there!”