Coyotes are also better equipped to handle rough terrain and are oftentimes even faster than foxes.
The sight of a mounted fox hunter in traditional attire—including red blazers and navy coats—is rare these days, and it seems that their quarry is rarer still. The coyote population on the East Coast is growing and in some areas pushing into fox territory. For the fox hunters in these regions, fewer foxes means that more and more clubs are finding coyotes a challenging, if unusual, substitute.
“What the coyote has done is made [hunting] more difficult because the fox didn’t run into other areas.” Dennis Foster, executive director of the Virginia-based Masters of Foxhounds Association, told WTNH.
Traditional fox hunting in America is descended from the 16th century form of the sport that originated in England. The hunt is usually carried out by mounted hunters, their hounds, and occasionally hawks. Also called fox chasing, many hunting clubs prohibit the killing of foxes and end the hunt once the animal has “gone to ground,” or reached the safety of a hole. Clubs also go to great effort to protect the habitat of red foxes, which is dwindling in the East. When it comes to the hunt itself, the sport is notorious for its rigid adherence to ritual and rules. So when debating whether or not to change their main quarry, it comes as little surprise that many hunters prefer foxes instead.