As each hunting season passes, the next generation slowly takes the reins. Nancy Wiley’s 11-year-old daughter, Lily, comes out fox hunting to enjoy the countryside, just like her mother. Meanwhile, Hugh Millhiser Halsey, 15, loves the experience of riding over Civil War battlefields and galloping past houses from Colonial times.
Molly Ford, 13, started riding when she was three and later did dressage, but she was exhilarated by her first fox hunt five years ago. “I think dressage is boring now,” she says. “When you’re a kid and really want to go fast, fox hunting is breathtaking.” She even taught her mom how to keep up with the pack.
Dana Weaver hunts deer with her 13-year-old daughter, Sara. They have a double tree stand, where they sit together on her father’s farmland in Madison County, Virginia. Dana’s dad had taught her to hunt when she was a teen. “I only made Sara wait until she was 11,” Dana says. “I thought she could handle it, and she can. She’s a better shot than I am.”
The hunt is a bonding experience, says Dana: “For the first few hours, when we’re just waiting, we can still make it girl time. It’s good to spend that time with her, when there’s no cell phones or distractions.”
It’s a tradition she hopes will go on, as it has for centuries: “Sara’s killed five deer so far this season. I just get so excited, so proud. Hopefully, that will continue and she’ll teach her children one day.”
After 20 years as a commercial photographer and following his recent admission to the Virginia State Bar, David Deal has opened a general-practice law firm in his hometown of Orange, Virginia; his website is daviddeal.com. Research editor Michael Gaynor can be reached at email@example.com.
This article appears in the January 2014 issue of Washingtonian.