Timeless tradition in Moore County

Thanksgiving Day marks the opening hunt for the Moore County hounds

Lincoln Sadler, a huntsman with the Moore County Hounds, leads a pack of Penn-Marydel hounds during the the Thanksgiving Day opening meet on Nov. 24 in Southern Pines.

If not for the telltale Carolina pines and patches of white sandy soil, the scene at Buchan Field looked classically British. The annual opening hunt of the Moore County Hounds is always held on Thanksgiving Day and the community is invited to attend the Blessing of the Hounds ceremony. This kicks off the start of formal season in fox hunting. Read: the black and red jackets come out!

Informal season starts in September, with the purpose of re-acclimating horses and hounds to hunting after their summer break. The attire is tweed jackets — think J. Crew’s fall collection.


Also known as cubbing, the name is derived from the idea of dispersing the current season’s litters of fox cubs across the countryside. Cubbing is slower paced to allow the new, young hounds to get used to their job and learn what not to hunt.

Family, friends, and pets enjoyed the pastoral scene as it unfolded. At 9:30 a.m., the hounds were brought to the open hayfield from the kennel. In the accompanying field, a sea of black and scarlet jackets and black velvet helmets approached on horseback. Both hounds and horses gathered near the blessing area for all to see while Reverend John G. Talk IV of Southern Pines Emmanuel Episcopal Church officiated the service.

Tradition and respect are integral parts of the modern hunt. The turnout of riders is a direct nod to landowners, a show of appreciation for the use of their land for the sport. Moore County Hounds is fortunate to call the Walthour-Moss Foundation its home. What began in 1978 through gifts from Pappy and Ginnie Moss now includes more than 4,000 acres of natural preserve. Trails, streams, and natural jumps scattered throughout provide excellent horseback riding. Wildlife inhabit the area, unscathed by any sort of progress. This is the very definition of preserving green space.

Horses and hounds could clearly sense the excitement of opening day. Having the community there to also share in the enjoyment and heritage of fox hunting was remarkable. It may have started as an English tradition, but this day was thoroughly North Carolina.