Hunting with hounds in The Netherlands was first mentioned in the 16th century. The Netherlands did not differ from other countries in that hunting was a privilige for the nobility and especially “stadhouder” William III (King William I in England) promoted this sport strongly at the end of the 17th century by building hunting estates (Palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn) and developing hunting territories. In 1702 he died in London as a consequence of a hunting accident.
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Until World War II the membership consisted mainly of Cavalry and Artillery Officers, who were also practising their ‘in the field’ riding skills by hunting. The ‘civilian’ members usually were gentry and nobility. The masters from 1919 till World War II were: Jhr J.W. Godin de Beaufort (1919-1921), W.A.M. Westeröuen van Meeteren (1922-1923), Jhr S.M.S.A.A. de Marees van Swinderen (1922-1924), Jhr IJ.D.C. Quarles van Ufford (1924-1930), Jhr H. Radermacher Schorer (1930-1940) en Jhr G.J. Kolff. After the German invasion in 1940, the occupier showed interest to hunt with the pack of the Royal Dutch Hunt, but master Kolff prevented this by shooting the hounds. The KNJV remained, but did not hunt with hounds anymore.
In 1949 H.R.H. Prince Bernhard was invited by the Duke of Beaufort to come and hunt with him. During his stay at Badminton hounds for the hunt were offered and the ‘Revival’ of the Koninklijke Nederlandsche Jachtvereeniging was a fact. Mr. J.J.A. Gilissen travelled to the UK, where he received from Bert Pateman, then whipper-in (and future huntsman of the Beaufort), 8 ½ couple of hounds of Beaufort and Meynell origin.
H.R.H. Prince Bernhard became the master, while Mr. J.J.A. Gilissen hunted hounds for him and became joint-master in a later stage. In the meantime the KNJV had changed from a cavalry hunt to a “civilian” hunt. After World War II the cavalry had ceased to exist as the “horsey” part of the army, which also ended the interest of the cavalry in hunting.
Master Gilissen therefore kennelled the hounds at his own place in this period. With drafts from other English and Belgian hunts, he enlarged the pack and started to breed his own hounds.
Kennels were soon built at Leusden and hounds still ‘live’ there. H.R.H. remained in office till 1958. His daughters Beatrix and Irene also came out in those days. They both received their first brush in 1949 during a day at a well-know estate called “De Sprengenberg”. When the Prince and Mr. Gilissen retired in 1958, the Prince became
honorary chairman of the Royal Dutch Hunt and remained so till he passed away in 2004. Their successor was D.C.T. Modderman (1958-1965 and 1969-1972), who had been a whipper-in before and also hunted hounds.
After him, Drs K. Van Santen (1965-1969) and Professor dr A. Staal (1972-1982) were masters. They did not hunt hounds, neither bred them.
When J.J.P. Bakker (1982-2004) took up the mastership, he hunted hounds and started breeding again. As only the KNJV hunted with foxhounds at that time, drafts from the UK remained necessary. In this period the Royal Dutch Hunt had hounds from the Quorn, Ashford Valley, Cleveland, Middleton, Bicester & Warden Hill, Puckeridge, Fitzwilliam and the Beaufort. As the pack is active in line hunting only, bloodhound outcrosses were also tried and proven succesful. The KNJV evolved over the years to a 2 days a week pack and now hunts on the Wednesday and Saturday. Mr Bakker retired in 2004. Since then hounds have been hunted by the masters J.E. Lichtenvoort Cats (2004-2010) and A.C. van Leeuwen (from 2010).
The Royal Dutch Hunt is the only hunt in The Netherlands which already existed before World War II. It is however not the only hunt.
The Veluwe Hunt, the Jachtvereniging Soestdijk and the Midland Hunt are also true Dutch hunts. Foxhounds, French hounds, black & tans and bloodhounds can be found with them.
Dutch hunts go where they are invited. Hunting days are usually organised bij local committees, who have strong contacts with the hunt and also with the landowners in their region. This means that no hunt can claim part of The Netherlands as “it’s own”.