Fox hunt to target coyotes

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— The wide-open spaces of Northwest Colorado will beckon equine enthusiasts Saturday to the Elkhead Ranch, 20 miles north of Hayden, for a traditional fox hunt.

The event will be hosted by ranch owner Heather Stirling and the Roaring Fork Hunt Club. Judy Brown will serve as Master of the Hunt.

But this isn't an entirely formal affair.

For one, the hunters and the club's hounds won't even be chasing foxes. Rather, the hunt will focus on more prevalent coyotes.

Also, the event is open to all riders, English or Western. Local rider and fox hunter Tammie Delaney encouraged interested riders and enthusiasts to participate, and said they should arrive ready to ride by 9 a.m. Saturday. The $35 riding fee includes a post-hunt picnic.

"At first, I thought it was this pretentious, hoity-toity thing," Delaney said, recalling her first hunt two years ago. "But then I got hooked - it's a bunch of expert, avid horse people galloping at full blast. In terms of going out with people that know what they're doing at a high level, it's like going out with a bunch of outstanding skiers and going extreme."

Delaney stressed how fox hunts rarely result in the death of a caught animal and are a great way for newcomers of all ages to learn about the sport and to experience the thrill of riding at a gallop pace through continuous open acres of land.

"Roaring Fork comes up here because you can literally go for miles," Delaney said.

The event will be held rain or shine, and horse pens are available on a reserved basis at Elkhead Ranch, 8102 Routt County Road 56. Call Stirling for more details at 276-3920.

- To reach Dave Shively, call 871-4253 or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com

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