Clifford Hunt, a genuine old horseman and a passionate foxhunter, passed away on December 2, 2010 at age eighty-four. I can’t begin to tally the number of individuals whose lives this man changed. He was a teacher who created many dedicated foxhunters. He was a hosteller, and, with his wife and partner Laura, he provided visiting foxhunters with bed, meals, hirelings, and transport at his well-known Hunting Box in Boyce, Virginia for twenty-six years (1978–2004). Sportsmen came to The Hunting Box from Canada and all the northern states to experience foxhunting in Virginia. Many loved it so much they moved here.
Hounds were screaming, and the huntsman was cooking. A cattle guard loomed ahead—a coop to the left and a gate to the right. The huntsman veered left.
"Melvin," someone yelled, "the gate’s on the right!"
"Melvin just kept kicking on, right over the coop," recalled Joe Conner, shaking his head and grinning in wonder.
Conner, who has whipped-in to Melvin for years at Bath County (VA), didn’t resurrect that story out of a distant past. It had happened only weeks before Melvin Poe’s ninetieth birthday celebration.
A month or so earlier, I had recognized the same notes of awe and wonder as I stood chatting with Brian Smith, my farrier, about Melvin’s upcoming ninetieth birthday.
Liz Callar photos
By March 7, Virginia’s record-setting snowfall had disappeared, but the rivers were running high and fast.
“Some of those hounds had never seen water like that,” said organizer Greg Schwartz, huntsman for the Bull Run Hunt (VA). “Thought we’d have to get life jackets for some of them,” he quipped.