The Start from the Kennels. The Elkridge, Md., Club.
Cedarhurst, the seat of the Rockaway Club, is only twelve miles, or thereabouts, from Westbury. Since it started in Far Rockaway in 1878, the Rockaway Club has suffered in an increasing degree from the intrusions of settlers. People will buy lots and build suburban houses in its country; and as hunting cannot be successfully carried on in a country that is all lawn and kitchen-gardens, the Rockaway men feel that the days of their sport are numbered. But while any country is left them to ride over, they will ride. They keep about fifteen couple of hounds at their kennels near the club-house at Cedarhurst, and go out twice a week from September to January, and in March and April. The obstacles they have to get over are mainly fences, from three feet six inches to five feet high. Walls are scarce on Long Island, as also are hedges and ditches. Like the Meadow-brook Club, the Rockaway combines the features of a country club with its hunting. It has an attractive club-house, with golf and tennis; and, like the Meadowbrook again, it has a strong polo team, which fights matches with the teams of the Meadowbrook, Myopia, Brookline, Ded-ham, Westchester, and other strong clubs. The essentials to fox-hunting are men, horses, foxes, and a country fit to hunt over. New York can find the men and the horses, but it is not blest in its hunting country. Philadelphia is better off. The oldest Quaker cannot remember a time when there was not fox-hunting within reach of Philadelphia. Farmers thereabouts kept hounds, and hunted them, before the Revolution; and one finds allusions in contemporary literature to the zeal with which British officers hunted Pennsylvania foxes in pre-Revolutionary times from the Rose Tree Inn. The senior Philadelphia hunt of our day is the Rose Tree, at Media. It began about 1856, was reorganized in 1872, and got a charter in 1881. It has about fifteen couple of American hounds from Delaware and Chester Counties, Penn., crossed with hounds from Maryland and Virginia. Its season is from December to April; its hounds meet three times a week, at seven a.m. two days, and at nine a.m. on Saturdays. Philadelphians, traditionally, have more leisure than the men of New York, and seem to be able to spare mornings, and indeed whole days, for hunting. Business men and young farmers follow the Rose Tree hounds, and the fields of riders range from five to twenty-five. The club-house is about a mile from Media. The club property includes the old stone Rose Tree
The Pack of the London, Qnt., Club in front of the Clubhouse.
Tavern, a pretty modern club-house near it, and some eighty acres of land, on which is laid out the club's half-mile track, and part of its steeplechase course. Of the Rose Tree hunting, a member of the club writes: "For the old fox-hunter one of the most interesting features of the hunt is the working of the hounds on a cold trail early in the morning to find a fox. When the scent is first struck, none but the old experienced hounds can make it out; but when one of them cries, the pack will cluster around, and as they work it slowly toward the cover, the scent will grow stronger and stronger, until the cover is reached, when the burst of full cry from the pack gives fair warning that the fox has broken cover. Then all is excitement, and hounds and riders are away on the run. This cold drag frequently takes one or two hours to work out."
This has about it the flavor of real foxhunting, a very different sport from the drag-hunting of less favored regions. One can learn with the Rose Tree hounds the tricks of the fox, and watch the contest between his strategy and the sagacity of the hound. The country about Media is rough; and the foxes usually get away, but not until they have given the hounds and huntermen good runs. One learns with regret that the prosperity of this excellent hunt is hardly what it should be. It has a vigorous and enterprising young rival in the Radnor Hunt, with a club-house and kennels near Bryn Mawr, which seems to have superior attractions for the younger Philadelphians.
About Baltimore, fox-hunting is as old a story as in Philadelphia; and the history of it is not to be told in a paragraph. Hunt clubs have flourished and died there, and had their successors these many years. The active clubs at present are the Elkridge and the Green Spring Valley. The older and larger club, the Elkridge, has a clubhouse and kennels about five miles on the Roland Park side of Baltimore. Its house is large, and has a ball-room attached; and it serves many of the purposes of a country club. The club has an excellent pack, a large membership, and plenty of good hunting country within reach. Being strong on its social side, it does not disdain drag-hunting, particularly in the earlier part of the season; but foxes are its main reliance for sport, and the master, Mr. Samuel George, goes as far as is necessary to find them. Maryland hospitality makes it possible for the Elkridge meets to be held comfortably twenty-five miles from home, so that the country that is open to the club is practically unlimited. The younger organization, the Green Spring Valley, includes many members of the Elkridge. It started in 1892, hunts the wild fox only, and usually finds him. It has at present a pack of about a dozen couple of American hounds. Its members are young business men of Baltimore, with a supplementary sprinkling of farmers. It meets twice a week, at hours least inconvenient for working men, and its fields average about twenty. Its club-house is an old stone tavern about seven miles out of Baltimore. The club has very-much of the sporting spirit, is inexpensive, and of simple habits, and under the mastership of Mr. Redmond Stewart gives good promise of prosperity.