Finding, obtaining and training beagles isn’t difficult, but it takes some time and reasonable expense.
Anyone wishing to buy a beagle or beagles can talk to owners, who usually welcome questions about dogs for sale or yet-to-be-born pups. Good places to start include hunting-supply stores or local beagle clubs.
Check pedigrees when you consider a pup. A pack owner might even allow you to hunt with him. Pups are surprisingly cheap ($250 to $300), while trained dogs can be bought for $800 or less.
“A good way to train young dogs is to put them in a rabbit pen with an older, trained dog,” veteran hunter Mike Harden said.
Pens may be small or as large as 1 to 3 fenced acres. The owner places captured rabbits in the pen for beagles to chase. A good starting point for a young dog is 8 to 10 months of age.
“Leave a young dog for a week,” Harden said. “I have a friend who charges $34. He checks on the dogs, feeds them and provides water and a place to sleep.
“The old way was to let young dogs hunt with older dogs. They’d learn to hunt, but you had a chance of losing a dog. You also want to know if a pup is gun-shy before you let him hunt.”
Deer are the bane of beagle owners. Harden uses shock collars and controls the charge with a remote unit.
“I’ve had to break beagles from chasing deer, and a shock collar is a great training tool,” he said. “I use mine more when I first take beagles out, but later, I don’t use them much. I can dial back the charge, and the dogs learn by the vibration I want them to come back.”
He also uses certain yells that send signals to his dogs.
“They know ‘Hock in here’ means to hunt hard for a rabbit,” Harden said. “That gets them excited. It also helps keep them close to you so if they jump a rabbit, you’ll know it. Yells also tell your fellow hunters where you’re at.”
He also yells “ho-yah, ho-yah, ho-yah” to let the pack know when he or another hunter has kicked up a rabbit, so the beagles will come running to find the bunny’s scent.
Finally, there’s a call to let the pack know a rabbit has been killed. Harden lets them see the rabbit, jump at it, smell it then sticks it in his game pocket and the hunt begins again.
“I say ‘Whup-O, Whup-O’ to get them to come to me,” Harden said. “Homer (Keck) calls it the death call.”