Monday, December 29, 2008

I know it's been over a month since I posted on my blog. For the faith full readers I am sorry I've been slack. My father passed away the evening before Thanksgiving and I've been working hard to get the house ready for inspection. I got my inspection last Monday....!
Ken and I went hunting today with Ronald Phillips and his son Dillon. The scenting was incredibly good as it has been the hall fall. After two full years of drought the rain this fall has reminded me just how well the little beagles can chase a rabbit. We got started about 8:30 this morning and the running was fast and furious. By 10:30 we had run and killed 5 rabbits. The spot we were running on was kinda small and we run the 6Th rabbit over on some deer hunters so we caught the dogs and moved a half mile down the road to another spot we like. Since the first six dogs had 5 rabbits shot in front of them this AM we swapped dogs and got the second pack out about 11.15. In short order the rabbit was up and running. The dogs run about an hour or so and Ken had some work to do on the phone so he and Dillon disappeared to a shady spot up on the hill to take care of Ken's business. Ronald and I tried to cut that tricky rabbit off for a while then we decided to take a rest in a shady spot our selves. The bunny run near us several times but not where either of us could take shot. Finally about 1:00 we decided we needed to eat lunch so we headed up to the truck to join Ken and Dillon for soda and Vienna sausages. We shot the bull and ate lunch until about 2:00 when Ronald said, "listen to those dog, they are stroking that rabbit." With that we decided we need to go shoot that rabbit. When we got back down to where the dogs were running Dillon was able to shoot the rabbit and wound him. Just as the dogs and Ronald were about to catch the bunny he ducked into a hole. Since no one was willing to dig it out, except Lady Bird and Bell, the rabbit was left in the hole. In just a few minutes we had another rabbit going. This rabbit didn't stay up but 5 minutes and rand straight into the creek bank. Ronald said he saw him swim across and go up in the bank. It didn't seem possible so quickly so I talked him into tallyhoing the dogs over the water to the creek bank. Sure enough they smelled the bunny and started digging and fighting their way into the bank. I like to never got Lady Bird out of that hole. The next rabbit came quick and was shot by Ronald in less than a half hour. Ronald told me he was going up by the truck to turn out a brace of dogs he wanted to work for the trial this weekend and left Ken and I to tend to the shooting duties. As the dogs running was sounding good I sat down on log to take a rest. Directly, I spy ed a spot on the ground that looked like a good spot to lay down. It didn't take long and I was taking a good nap in the afternoon sun. As I was about to doze off listening to the two separate races, I remember thinking just how far I had come with these little beagles. The next thing I remember I was jolted from a sound sleep by the sound of barking dogs very near me. I woke up confused and dazed and was able to just see the rabbit hopping off into the broom straw field. I think Ken was the one who finally shot that rabbit and eventually Ronald and Dillon walked back down and joined us. We shot a few more rabbits and finally darkness put an end to a great day of rabbit hunting.
I know most people hunt in a lot different way than we do but I don't know why. The next time you go hunting make sure you plan enough time to enjoy yourself. Sit down, rest, maybe even take a nap and let the dogs run. You'll enjoy it a bunch.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Just a quick note to say we are all still alive and doing well in the sunny south. The dogs are getting run and the new Purina Pro Plan is performing great. Just when I decided the new shredded formula was going to work out great, Purina has decided ( by all the customer demand) to start the Pro Plan Chicken and Rice formula back up. It will be in 37.5 lb bags and should be at your local stores before thanksgiving! I know many of you are are concerned with the high price of dog food, so am I. I have plenty of friends who are taking the risky step of using dog food that is not subject to the same test trials as Purina. I urge you, think long and hard about it. What is $2 dollars a bag or even $5 a bag if you kill your dogs. For those 0f you who compete in field trials, my gosh, you spend thousands of dollars traveling to a trial. You run your dogs all hours of the day and night, you try solo, you brace, you pack them, and you are worried over $2 a bag for dog food. That sounds risky to me......... If you have 5 or more dogs and want to be a member of the Purina Pro Club please call me or send me an email. I will get you set up. By having me introduce you to the club, you are assured of continual support and someone you can get a hold of if you need help. I sometimes get coupons and other merchandise I can pass on as well.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wow, what a nightmare I had last night. I dreamed it was a cool cloudy day. I was running four of my females over on the back side of my property. They were really making some noise. They were making every turn like they were following a painted yellow line. Just pushing through the briars and weeds with that steady CHOP-CHOP-CHOP, as if to say you can run rabbit but you can't hide. The race had gone on for about an hour and I was starting to get worried for the rabbit. After all, many hours and more dollars go into making sure the rabbits on my place have adequate food and cover. I want the dogs to run them hard and steady but I don't want them to catch them. what I heard next was a terrible commotion. I could tell that something was wrong at the house the Mastiffs were raising all king of sand. That was quickly followed by the sound of a kennel full of beagles doing the same. I hot footed it over to the kennels where I found 2 guys in suits looking at my dogs. I ask them what they were doing and they told me they were from the new government department responsible for the redistribution of wealth. Seems they had learned I owned way too many high quality female beagles. They said President Oboma needed to make sure some other beaglers who didn't have any quality females got one. They were their to seize all but two of mine so they could get them to those who really needed them. I told them I had been working on those dogs since I was a teenager, I told them I had worked really hard to invest in proper kennels and training grounds so I could improve them. Their only reply was to tell me I should feel good that now others less fortunate who didn't know how to get such good females would now be able to own a good one. I awoke in a fit of rage............
I sure hope America sobers up before next Tuesday!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The southeast is coming off of a huge beagling weekend. Last Wednesday we finally had some rain, in fact we had 3 inches of rain, and scenting was nearly perfect this weekend. Cove Creek Beagle club in Pickens, South Carolina held thier annual AKC license trial and any one who is anyone in the south east beagle world was thier for the big competition. I saw many friends from South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina. They were all thier for the same reason, to show off thier prize beagles.
What made this weekend different from most is the incredbly good scenting conditions the dogs had to work with. Nearly every pack ran like it could see the rabbit.
On Saturday, I had the pleasure of being accompanied by my oldest daughter Ashlyn. Ashlyn was a real trooper and went out with me every time we went to the field. Ealry in the day Ashlyn told me, " daddy, I hope we win 1st, 2nd, or 3rd." The day went on and the competition got tougher. Ashlyn and I were both pleased when the dust settled to find out our own born and breed Lady Bird got the 3rd place award. It was good judging and and quality dogs that made it a good time. I don't think I heard a single complaint about the field trial. I know I had one happy little handler with me when we got home and Ashlyn showed off the the trophy we recieved. It was sure a good time, leaving both Ashlyn and myself ready to go back for more dog running.

Monday, September 29, 2008

It's with sadness on my heart I have to report the death of FC Tate's Lady Bear. Brad Carter called us just after daylight this morning to tell me the dreaded news. Lady Bear was such an outstanding hound it seems remiss to just say she was a great one. Lady bear was impressive in competition and deadly to Mr bunny when we were gun huting. I am a better breeder from seeing Lady Bear's offspring, I am a better hunter from shooting rabbits in front of Lady Bear, I am a better judge from following her many hours in the field. I have a bigger heart for making room for this outstanding little beagle in my faithfull breast. Having not even been around her for over a year I can tell you she is still missed as if she were here yesterday. Good bye Lady Bear.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

AS promised I am adding to my blog. September is over half way through and you tell the days are getting shorter. The crisp feel of the morning air makes it clear to all those who love the great outdoors, fall is drawing near. All summer I haven't really trained or conditioned dogs much. The main reason is I have been feverishly busy working on the new Five Forks canine athletics training facility. We purchased 22.5 acres back in May that we can devote to improving the strain of beagles that has been our lifes toil. The first thing that has to be completed is a home for my family. After many nails were driven the house is finally in th dry. I almost have the plumbing complete thanks to Chad Cape and I have been pulling the wire this last week. Robert Oliver is due over next week to get the HVAC roughed in. It won't be long until I can start work on the kennels and running enclosure. I plant o enclose a dab over 20 acres. This shoud work nicely for our program. I'll post a few pics of the house at the bottom ( I tried but couldn't so they are up top) of tonights post so you can see my work.
On the beagle front, the dogs have been getting worked some the last couple weeks. I've been to run dogs several times the last week or so and Ken has taken them 6 or 7
times. Daisy's latest litter is out of the starting pen and I really like one of them. Ken named her Black Eye Susan. We have onother little male out of Star and a Money female that we just got started that looks really good as well. Ken reports that our older group of 09 derbies all look wonderfull. Anthony Smith saw them run and commented that we must have been running them a lot. Little did he know they had been layed up all summer. Luckily the cool air has us as well as the dogs eager to be out in the field. By the time hunting season gets hear we will all be ready. I haven't forgot about the puppy articles I just need some time. In the mean time I hope you will visit some out our sponsors sites. Thier a lot to learn in side thier pages as well.Click here for

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's September and that means fleas are at their peak. If you have not done your due detergents this summer chances are the fleas are starting to show up.Flea & Tick Control is something that doesn't require a lot of effort if you just plan ahead. Both and Drs. Foster & Smith - The Trusted Name for Dog Products both are great places to order the supplies you need. While the dips work great for the adult dogs in the kennel, they are not labeled for puppies. You will find several products for puppies just remember not to use too much.
As I mentioned before you will have much more success dealing with fleas before they become a problem. Take a look around at Jeffers or Foster & Smiths. They have been in the dog supply business for many years. They know what products to sale, the ones that work and which ones to leave to the discount stores. I've added links to both sites for your convenience. Just remember to check back soon.
For SUPER low prices on your favorite pet supplies CLICK HERE

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

If you have had a beagle that gets out of the kennel, you will appreciate this video. The little dog is probably heck on a rabbit, she sure has brains.
I hope to start working on my blog a little more. What I plan to start doing is listing some of the basic necessities every kennel needs. I find it interesting how many questions i get bout treating dogs for various illness's. Simple things we all have to learn. We do things to raise puppies that are second nature. Many people try to raise beagle litters with poor results. They do quiet well until the pups are weaned. After weaning is when the mother dog gets a break and we need to take some basic steps to insure the pups continue to grow and prosper.
Stay tuned and I will start to go over some of these details. Hopefully you want have to learn the hard way, like I did.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Beagle test
No matter what type of dog you have, heart worm prevention is critical to his care. They're several drugs available from your vet that will handle heart worms. The problem with these drugs is they tend to be on the expensive side. Ivermectin is something kennel owners and hunters have been using for many years. We used to have to get very precise dosages in order to be sure we didn't over dose. Then we had to give a tape worm expeller to get rid of tape worms. Now Horse Wormers are available from that combine Ivermectin and Praziquantel in one. This makes parasite managment so much simpler. We use the Zyrmectin Gold . I give each adult beagle about a pea size squeeze. Another way to look at it is to use just a little less zyrmectin gold than you would put toothpaste on your toothbrush. We have found a squeeze of zyrmectin gold each month will keep your dogs healthy and in great shape. This is just on thing we have found that makes rasing a kennel of dogs much easier and less expensive. I will try to share other things as I can remember or as I get questions. Sometimes it's easy to forget the simple things that people want to learn about. Let me know if I can help you in any way. I am not a Veterinarian and recommend you talk to your vet before setting on a parasite control program.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I thought I would share the pictures of a few of our females. Take a look at our web site to see pedigrees and more information.
Sometimes I think I'm the only one who thinks like I do. Maybe I am.
Hurrucane Ike has just entered Texas a couple days ago and all the talk in these parts (and I expect many others) is about the price of automobile fuel. Around here it was about $3.40 before the storm and just ahead of landfall the price rose to the $4.30 range. Everyone is jumping up and down about the evil oil companies and the greedy station owners who have raised thier prices. No one wants to say what the real problem is...we waste enough fuel to run most countries. Beagling is the sport I love. The fact is, however, it is fuel intensive. People from many states come to meet and run beagles together. It's a great time. We love it. The fact remains, it takes a lot of fuel to get all those pick up trucks full of dogs and men from state to state. In the grand scheme of things is it needed? Probably not.
I'm not advocating we should stop running dogs. I'm just pointing out how ridicilous it is for someone who travels around the country running dogs to complain about the price of gas.
We beaglers are not the only culprits who waste fuel. Look at all the people who make 3 and 4 trips to town each week. Can they not combine these trips? How often do kids have to be driven to school when a bus comes right by the house? What about those college football games on Saturday? Most of those stadiums hold 80,000 people and they seem to be full. I still see boats headed to the lakes in droves.
I'm not saying we should stop any of these things. It's our way of life. I'm simply pointing out gas is not too expensive or we would not be buying it for liesure!
Now, we sure have a problem, as all this liesure we are enjoying is runing our country in the ground. As T Boone Pickens explains, it's the biggest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind. I'm sure hoping people more intelligent than I are hard at work developing more fuel efficient trucks. i hope they will soon have batteries capable of getting us where we want to go. Batteries that can be charged with electricity generated in our own communities.
Oh well enough about that. I just want everyon to stop and think. Use the brain God gave us, before jumping on the bandwagon of complaining. Seems most people want less government until it's the part of goverment that help thier pocket book!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

It seems it has gotten to popular to discuss the Hall of Fame lately. I’ve never given it much thought. I expect most beaglers who run their dogs and strive to constantly get better dogs seldom have time to think about it. I see those ballots in my magazine every year. I believe we’ve been getting Hound and Hunting magazine for 18 years and I’ve never even sent a ballot in. All the discussion made me want to see what it was all about.
As it turns out it’s an honorary club sanctioned by the magazine Hounds and Hunting. Simple enough, they can do it anyway they want. They own it; they can do what ever they want. They don’t have to answer to anyone. They are in the business of selling ads in a magazine. Basically they are using corporate philanthropy to sponsor this program for the readers of the magazine.
Since lots of folks have been happy to share how they would run the Hall of Fame if they were to sponsor one (of course most are content to just complain about the one we have) OI thought I would offer some guidelines I think should be used to help select members.
My understanding is the HOF is to recognize those who have been instrumental to the SPO or gundog movement. People are quick to point out those who have had success at the field trials but I think they miss the point. To have a field trial you first have to have a sponsoring club. This is the place to look for the pillars of the sport. If you want to see who is instrumental, if not essential to our sport you only have to visit the local club. It takes many man hours and lots of money to have a successful and sustainable beagle club. Some beagle clubs don’t even own collars to hold an SPO trail much less the precious land it takes to hold one. Any club that has been in existence for very long and does not have permanent running grounds to do the very thing that brings them together is suspect in my opinion. Maybe there is good reason for the situation but more often than not it indicates members are not willing to make the kind of commitment it takes to create a successful and sustainable beagle club.
Any person who is considered for the HOF fame should be one who is instrumental and essential at the club level. Evidence of growth toward making his or her home club successful and sustainable should be easy to se
Next is age and experience. My first thought is for the HOF members to be deceased but that would rob those most deserving from the accolades they’ve earned. If it were up to me I would put two age and experience clauses in the selection process. The person would have needed to be 55 years old and been involved in organized beagling for a minimum of 20 years. I suppose you could start their clock the first time they placed in a licensed trial or judges their first trial. Some verifiable method could be employed.
Third the person should be known for the promotion of beagling at the regional level or national level. This would include service at the association and federation levels.
The person should be active in helping new people enter the sport of beagling. The new inductee would be well known as one who is eager to see the sport grow and demonstrated such for a number of years.
Finally the inductee should be revered as an honest and upright member of the beagling community.
To sum it up Here is a quick list:
1) Instrumental and essential to a successful and sustainable beagle club.
2) 55 years of age
3) 20 years of experience in organized beagling
4) Active at the regional or national level
5) Longevity with respect to bringing in new beaglers and expanding the sport.
6) Revered as honest and upright member of the beagling community

Well thier's my shot at it. You may would do it different. Now get of your computer and go wear a hole in you boots. Beagling is about following dogs not internet sites.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I've been thinking of all the new folks we have in the beagle world. I for one am very thank full for them. We sure can't have enough new blood in the sport. One of the byproducts of such rapid growth is just the proliferation of inexperience. It's no ones fault. People get involved and they are excited, eager for knowledge and information. The easiest place to get that is the internet. If you look around you will find plenty of folks telling all about how to do this or that. How a dog is supposed to do this or that. You've seen them. The problem is in many instances the person doing the telling don't know any more than those he is trying to tell. This is especially true if you look on the message boards. Sure you can find some nuggets of information but you have to really look.
What do I want to do about it? I want to help educate those who really want to learn. I plan to start holding weekend seminars right here at Five Forks Kennels. These will be at NO COST to the participants. All you'll need to do is find your way here.
I'd like to go over the things you want to talk about. It'll really be up to the folks attending. We can discuss what ever subjects you like, from kennel set-up, medicines, shotgun choices, and of course field performance of hounds. I'd even like to eventually get to the point where we can start training judges. Not the rules seminar type of training but actually following dogs. Maybe watch groups of dogs run, video the action and then come back inside and discuss what we saw and watch the video. I believe something like this will even be help full to many of our current judges as the trend has become to simply count picked checks and determine the winner by adding up which hound picked the most checks. The fact is, there's just more to determining quality than that. That's not to say judging dogs in this manner will not result in a judge getting pretty close to calling it right.
I'm also planning on a new section for the web site. I have one beagling's best studies of the AKC rule book working on a monthly column where he will discuss the particulars of some of the rules and concepts that give people the most trouble. We can also have him answer and discuss questions you send it.
So let me know what you think. I will start a list of those interested in the seminars and will get that in the works. Also, send in your rules questions and we can get the new section going as well.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

You can tell dog running season is just around the corner. I'm thinking more and more about getting out with the dogs. I've been terribly busy this summer working on our new home. We've had the good fortune to be able to buy a piece of land large enough to build a twenty acre running enclosure as well as build a new home large enough for our family and the ocassional beagle guests. I'm becoming quite the carpenter. LOL
I did come in last week early enough to get out to the kennels with my 19 month old daughter Anna. We spent the whole afternoon at the kennel together. We gave shots, wormed dogs, cut toe nails, pretty much all the thing you have to do every so often. Anna of course had to handle every pup in the kennel. She's just drawn to the dogs. I wonder if it's b/c Amy spent so much time at the kennel when she was carrying Anna. Any way, it was fun to watch Anna sitting outside the kennels feeding dogs one morsel at a time. I can tell it's only a matter of time before she will be letting dogs out of their cages. It was great just me and my daughter sharing time with the beagles. How rewarding it is to see her enjoying something that has brought me so much peace and stability in a world that can put so many obstacles in our way.

This reminds me of another great time I had with my oldest daughter, Ashlyn. It was when Ashlyn was only six years old and we were running Daisy in the trials. Daisy had two wins and was good and ready to have win number 3 in the trophy case. I got Ashlyn up at 4:30 AM for the drive down to Poplar Branch Beagle Club. Ashlyn was way to small to keep up in the field so she just rode on my shoulders most of the day. We ran dogs all day. Daisy was really hot at this time and had looked like a million bucks all day. We finally got to the winners pack and Daisy was sure doing her thing. (I was mostly as I knew Ashlyn would get to accept a trophy. You see Ashlyn had never been to a trial before and I wanted her to like it.) The Gallery around me was already congratulating me on her third win when the Marhsal called out "yellow collar" and Daisy was eliminated sixth. To say the least I was disappointed but I never let on with Ashlyn. We got back to the club house and Ashlyn asked, 'Daddy did we win,"
"No, I told her, "we didn't win today, we got sixth." I felt terrible. We drove back home and had a great time together. We explored dirt roads and looked for potential hunting ground, all along I was wondering what went wrong with that winners pack. I know the other dogs were deserving and in no way want to take away from their accomplishments.
Later the next week Ashlyn brought home a paper she had written at school. It was a story about going to the field trial with her daddy! It was all about the fun she had and how she got to see the dogs run and ride on my shoulders. At the end the story read " And we even won sixth place!"
I couldn't help but cry when I read it. It really helped me see what was important. If your not including your children or grandchildren in your beagle life, give it a try. The very next week daisy got her 3rd win and became a champion. Which trial do you think I remember best?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

If I could change one thing about our field trials, what would it be?
Judges would not take the loss of a rabbit so lightly! I believe it should be common practice to not allow the hounds who have taken part in a lost rabbit to place in the field trial.
Do you think that is harsh? If so, you have a lot lower standards than I do. Here's what needs to happen. If a pack of hounds looses a rabbit, and it's not due to outside interference, the judges should order up one or more hounds who in thier opinion is resposible for the loss. The pack would not be handled at a loss. If a rabbit is lost and the judges feel like no hound or hounds have caused the loss due to faultynees, judges should determine the hounds to be of inferior quality and not considered for advancement into second or subsequent series. Packs would be completed or "handled" while the hounds were running.
You wouldn't allow your hound hound to loose rabbits while you were rabbit hunting, don't allow it at field trials. The future of the breed depends on it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Beagles are great fun to run. Rabbit hunting is a great sport. It's so much fun there's contstantly people wanting to get in on it. Who could blame them. I always wonder what people with out dog do with thier time. In thier hurry to get started with dogs many newcomers to our sport are taken adavantage of by unsroupulous dealers.
Greed can make people do things they normally wouldn't do. When it comes to beagles, what I've been witnessing is good breeders with popular dogs selling thier culls at the same prices as their top stock. The new beagler will not be able to recognize the difference or will simply take the breeder at his word. This is the type activity that gained used car salesmen such reputations.
It seems it become all too popular for a person to get involved with dogs for a few years and declare thier selves an expert. Just remember, you can go out and buy the nicest baseball glove made, but the odds are your still not going to play major league babesball with out hard work, determination, and lots and lots of practice.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

When a person gets involved in beagles he goes through several stages of growth in the sport. I'm not planning going through them right now but I do want to talk about a couple of them. Early on, once they start attending field trials they want to do well. They want a dog they can go with and compete. They want to win or at least be in the money some where. It doesn't really matter what the dog is. It can be breed this way or that way. It can look like a fiest or it can look like a fox hound/ basset cross. They just need a good dog.
Years later the focus will change from simply doing well in a trial with someone else's dog they bought to being able to compete with a dog they raised or breed. The satisfaction of simply owning top notch dos not enough. The dog needs to be breed a certain way, look a certain way. This is where breeding comes in. It's why every pedigree must be completely accurate. Pedigrees are like road maps for those who can read them. If you try to follow a map and the roads are labeled wrong you have problems. Same thing happens when a pedigree is wrong. With out absolutel certainty in our pedigrees we have nothing.
Almost all the breeds in the AKC are affected by inaccurate pedigrees to some extent. Beagles are no different. Have you ever looked at the pedigrees of some of our most popular stud dogs of today and yesteryear? The fact is, the dog passes on his genes good and bad to his offspring. I can think of one instance of a very popular dog in the earlier years of the SPO movement. He was reported to be top notch in every way. He ran with great gusto and style even though his pedigree suggested he was more of hare breeding. He has several crosses of lemon/white dogs up close yet he didn't produce many if any lemon and white offspring. As luck would have it a little later, a grandson of this dog becomes one of the greatest producers of all time, still no lemon and white pups showing up.
Go back a few years, even before the great producer showed up. I here an interesting story from one of the early SPO enthusiast about the popular dog mentioned. He tells me a gentleman who new the popular dog mentioned earlier also new him to be out of a grade bitch. She was breed to one of the great early dogs of the SPO movement and one of the pups turned out great. Papers were secured for a dog and this good pup gets a career in the field trials and becomes the popular dog mentioned. I never thought about that story much until later when an astute student of pedigrees posted on an internet message board the dog not ever producing lemon and white pups. HMMM make of it what you will.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My good friend Ronald Phillips calls a few weeks ago wanting to go rabbit huting in Mississippi. He knows my wife is nine months pregnant and there is no chance I can be gone for three days hunting. That doesn't stop him form asking to borrow a few dogs. :) Seriously, Ronald has some really nice young Star dogs and I ask him to write me a story. It sounds great. I can't wait to go next year:

Hunting Trip in Mississippi
By: Ronald Phillips

I got invited on a rabbit hunting trip to Mississippi to provide the beagles. We hunted two miles northeast of Brooksville, Mississippi. We arrived on Thursday afternoon in a rain storm with lightning. After the storm passed, we turned out some beagles for an hour to have some fun. We harvested three rabbits in that short period, but the dogs had a little trouble in the water. Water does not run off on the flat ground of Mississippi like other places. Also, I learned that running rabbits on alkaline Okolona silty clay soil might be a little different. We were hunting a little different terrain from hunting in Georgia. A man could hunt 6 beagles for a week and never get them scratched up. They don’t have the briars that grow in Georgia. Only the thickest briars in Georgia will have a rabbit. The dogs could not account for a couple of rabbits which was not acceptable to me. You have to account for your rabbits in Georgia because you might walk a few hours to find another one. Thankfully, they were more abundant on this day.

On Friday, we had five rabbits at lunch with four hunters. We consumed the normal pork and beans and changed out the dogs (not needed due to lack of briars). At the end of the day, we had accounted for 14 rabbits. I thought that we had an excellent day. The country store was the gathering place for locals and hunters in the morning. I learned from an older gentleman ( in his early 60’s) whom was a beagler that morning: running rabbits had been very difficult for the past few weeks, his male won a trial and then the next time he got a third because field trials are all political, and you need to get rid of all your young dogs because they can’t run a rabbit.

On Saturday morning, the same crowd plus some new beaglers and fox (coyote) hunters were gathering up for the daily events. I learned from the beaglers that the average was 12 rabbits harvested a day. I was a little ashamed of our 14 at this point. We only had three hunters for the day, so we were going to have to do a little better than we did on Friday. We hunted for four and half hours and had 13 rabbits harvested. We decided at this point to clean rabbits and head back to Georgia. We had 30 rabbits in the cooler and that would be enough for fried rabbit.

Would like to say, “Thank you” to Andy Brady for the fine rabbit hunts that he provided us this year. He can find the good places from Georgia to Mississippi. Take your truck because his likes to break down in Birmingham, Alabama and makes for a late night and long wrecker ride.

rabbits don’t run as small a circle in the more open cover
rabbits don’t stay in the weeds and fields, they immediately head for cedar trees and big woods up and down drainage ditches
rabbits don’t slow down to slip and slide, they just try to put a large distance between themselves and dogs, they will double occasionally
harvesting 12 rabbits in Mississippi is easier than harvesting 4 in Georgia
Okolona silty clay loam soil makes you taller as you cross the field and don’t wash off your truck
as many dead coyotes on side of road as deer and rabbits in Georgia
the alkaline soil must produce as many rabbits as volunteer cedar trees
you can show your dogs in a show immediately following the rabbit hunt because they want have the cuts from briars
don’t need a “jump dog” or as hard a hunting beagle
go to Mississippi to get a cooler full of rabbits to fry
Cottontails are everywhere
No blue tails
where are the big swamp rabbits????? They got the water for them

This was my first experience trailing rabbits in Mississippi, but I will return again if God willing. I had hunting experiences in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Maryland; but this one will be remembered. Take a hunting trip to Mississippi and enjoy the golf course type hunting for a few days.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Well, My wife Amy is still tuffing it out. Our son Mason is due to be born any day but.....I hope he gets here soon. I can't get very far away from the house until she's delivered and all is well. I'd love to get one more day of huning in. In the mean time here is a picture sent from my friend Tony Martin of one of his Star pups over a pile of Swamp rabbits they harvested. Don't they look huge...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A note to judges:
This is not the place or time to try and make you read the rule book. You've read it. You know what it says (although a refresher may help many of us.) I just wanted to talk to you about how to place weight on a hound actions. Good or bad. It's vitally important for you to determine what effect the hounds actions are having on the race.
It would indeed be short sighted to quickly pick up a top performing hound with things that don't detriment your race. Like wise you should never credit a hound with score accomplished with some type of gambling type action. Running hit and miss or bounding off at the checks should never be tolerated. Dogs with these faults should be eliminated as soon as you determine the action is indeed a habit or method the hound uses. A single time of being out of place is not a habit! The other thing I see is the advancement of dogs who do not have quality performances. Simply not being faulty, and picking a check or two should not guarantee advancement into second series. Judges, you should insure every dog you bring back to second series can indeed run a rabbit. Even if that means running the pack down to one dog and watching him run for a few minutes. Most competitors will understand this and look forward to their hound getting a chance to display his qualities. If the dogs is unable to run satisfactorily by himself he should not be advanced. The handler will understand if he is a hounds man.

Here are some example I have seen or heard of dogs being eliminated for that don't seem to hurt the race: In these example Dog B will get picked up.When a dog A strikes the track of jumps the rabbit, dog B tongues with excitement as he harks to dogs A's location. Dog B gets picked up four being mouthy.
At a check in and around a small briar thicket and all the dogs are searching. Dog A picks up the check and drives into the briar thicket, Dog B is already forward and off to the side of the thicket searching and meets dog A as he emerges out the other side of the thicket. Dog B is eliminated for skirting.
The pack is driving and a dog back in the pack pops out off the track. He stays out for a couple seconds and them pops back in the pack in roughly the same relative position. The dog get's eliminated for "getting out."
The dogs are running good with dogs A and B both doing the majority of the scoring. A long check arises and after 2 minutes dog B opens exactly at the point of loss as he hunts back across the check area. Dog B gets picked up for being mouthy.
Now these are things I pulled off the top of my head but I want to point out these things probably were not hindering the race.

Here a some reasons that should get a dog eliminated: In these example dog B will get picked up and assuming first series in a reasonably large trial.The pack is driving hard. Dogs A and B are in the front racing. All of a sudden dogs start pulling up as dog B continues tonguing another 50 feet. The dogs work back where dog A finds the loss and the pack is off. Dog B races to the front in an attempt to run the lead. Again, dogs start pulling up and we find Dog A and dog B 50 feet past where the rabbit turned. Dog B should be eliminated for racing and over running.
The pack is running smoothly with little down time. Naturally there are checks but most are solved in 5 - 10 seconds. A hard check arises and 20 seconds later we here dog B 100 feet out with a rabbit track. The dogs hark to him and the race is on. More good running with several different dogs running the front and solving checks. Another long check and in less than a minute we again here dog B over the hill with a rabbit. Dog B should be eliminated for lack of patience and bounding off.
The pack is running and come to a check. Dog B indicates he solved the check by tonguing and pulling all the dogs to him. After they get to him he stops barking and continues hunting. The check is finally solved and the dogs are off again. Dog B repeats the same process of tonguing where no rabbit can be found. Dog B should be eliminated.
You've been struggling with this pack and have picked up several faulty dogs. You are down to three dogs and are not running very well. Dog C starts giving extra mouth and you pick him up. Now you are down to dogs A and B. Dog A is getting most of the work and dog B is really nor scoring. Dog B should be eliminated.

There are so many variable it is nearly impossible to simply put every scenario on paper. You really need to follow a lot of dogs. Develop an eye for what hurts a race and what has little effect. Let the little thing decide between successful performers. You shouldn't start a race looking for reason to "pick up" dogs. Look for good things the dogs do to contribute to the race. You will have plenty of time to eliminate dogs as your scoring goes along.
I wonder why so many people have a hard time understanding our sport? They really do. Even folks who have been at it for a long time really don't always get it. They like to spout the reason their dogs don’t do well is because "all the clubs" in that area are too conservative, or any number of excuses. I guess it helps them feel better about what they are doing. The fact is they shouldn't need to justify their dogs or breeding program to anyone but their self. They should enjoy them. They got into beagles to have fun. Wonder why they spend all their time complaining? Still others have their dogs and are completely kennel blind to everything else. They have their dogs and they run just fine for them. That's great and is as it should be. They loose all credibility when they start downplaying others dogs or the dogs that do well in field trials. The fact is this type person is simply kennel blind. They will never move forward with bettering the breed until they pull off their blinders. Of course bettering the breed is not why they stay involved in the sport. They have a few dog they love a lot (and that's great) and they insist they must be field champions. No matter the dogs don't fit the judging standard.
The judging standard is another topic. The reason the founders of this sport way back in the 1890 created a standard was to give breeders and exhibitors something to shoot for. These standards are not mandatory for the hound to suffice rabbit hunting, although a rabbit hunter will definitely appreciate the hound that gets close to this standard. In fact, the closer to the standard the hound, the more enjoyable he will be to hunt with. The truth is, the perfect hound has not been found yet. One that has every aspect. Hunt's hard and finds every rabbit, pours his tongue rapidly with the loudest of sweet notes, keeps the rabbit tracks between his legs at all times, and overtakes the rabbit in short order as his strength and endurance is much greater than the rabbits. Of course these are just four traits I mention and a hound is made up of many more variable than these.
The Bass Masters tournament is in our town this week. I understand they are fishing for over half a million dollars. Have you ever seen this fishing tournament deal? The fishermen all spend the day fishing and see who gets the most fish by total weight. They have to use imitation lures and try to catch the bass.
They all know they could do better with other means of catching fish. Live bait, explosives????? The thing is, they have rules and have to fish using those rules. Just like we compete in a field trial under rules. The hound that leaves the point of loose with out first searching close in hopes of finding the track quicker is simply not following the rules. Just like the fisherman who does not follow the rules, this hound should not be allowed to win (assuming there are other successful performers.) Maybe you can think of some other examples that would apply.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Left to right. Queen of Five Forks, Bell Star of Five Forks, Five Forks Lady Byrd, FC Tate's Yogi. Four outstanding Star pups.

I had a chance to visit my friend Mike Newman of Lincolnton, Georgia today. It was hot but we had a good time. Mike has some really nice Star dogs and knows a little something about rabbit hunting. This was also the first time I got to take FC Tate's Yogi rabbit hunting. Ken has taken him a time or two here close and shot a few each time but this was his first time in a giant pine thicket of pure briars. Needless to say, he is all that I thought he was. You just can't beat superior genetics.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Field trials Defined

Have you been thinking of taking your beagle to a field trial? You've seen all these ads for trials but are not sure which ones are for you? What do all the different formats mean. I thought I'd make a quick run through of the types of trials that could be available for you to enter. There's a good article on attending your first field trial that you probably need to read before getting ready to go. I'm going to try and do my best to explain the different trials.
Some things are command to all formats and other things are different. Let me first mention some things that are common to all the formats discussed here. Beagles are divided up into four classes. 13" and 15" dogs and 13" and 15" bitches. Each class is assigned two judges. Game for all beagle field trials is rabbit or hare. Game is never released in front of the hounds and is found in it's natural habitat or semi natural habitat of beagles clubs where the ground is "farmed" or specially cared for to enhance the game population. The AKC publishes a booklet detailing all the rules and regulations. I would advise reading through this book as a top priority if you are interested in competing in a field trial
Brace Trials (traditional)
The first types of field trials held in the U.S. were run in the brace format. You may see these simply called brace trials or referred to as traditional brace trials. At a brace trials entry's are split into braces or pairs for head to head competition. The two judges follow each brace and agree on how to score each hound. After all braces are ran, the judges determine which dogs had the highest performance and call those dogs back for a second series. The second series is divided up into braces again. The judges run these dogs in a modified tournament type format until they derive at a winner.
Large pack on Hare
Another type of field trial is called Large pack or Large pack on hare. Almost all of these trials are held in the northern most part of the country. The game is nearly always the Snow Shoe hare. In this format the entire class of hounds is released and ran for several hours. The judges do their best to view the hound work and score dogs according to their ability and contributions to the chase. I have no personal experience with this type of trial so I can offer very little input.
Small Pack
The Small pack format was authored by John Landrum of Skull fork fame and adopted by the AKC in 1957. In this format hounds are divided up into packs of 4 to 7 dogs and judged. After all the pack are evaluated, the judges bring back the ones they scored the highest to compete in a second series. Additional series' are held until the judges have reduced the number of hound to 5 - 7. This final group is called the winners pack. Judges choose the top dog from the winners pack to be the field trial winner. This small pack format was a better test for a hunting dog as most rabbit hunters hunted their dogs in small packs. These small packs naturally trailed a rabbit faster than just two dogs and put more pressure on the hounds. Faults that are not evident in the brace format are more easily seen in this format.
Small Pack Option
In the 70's beaglers and rabbit hunters began a movement to find a method to compete and evaluate their hunting dogs. After several years of working on this it was finally decided to use the same rules as Small Pack (listed above) but with a few exceptions. Hounds would be cast to search for game and would be tested for gun shyness. Today most field trailers' who also rabbit hunt compete in this format. You will hear this format referred to as SPO.
Gun Dog Brace
In the 90's their was a strong up rush of gundog folks wanting to run in the brace format. These trials late became known as Gun dog brace. They run under the same rules as Brace (listed above) but hounds are cast to search for game and tested for gun shyness.
More History
Originally, beagle owners competed with the same hounds they rabbit hunted with. As time progress more and more importance was placed on trailing accuracy until nearly all ability to circle the rabbit for a gun shot was lost. Small Pack trials normally run the same type of hounds as traditional brace trials. The inability to account for game disenfranchised most rabbit hunters and led to a steady decrease in field trial entries. The decline in entries worsened up until the time SPO trials gained popularity.

Scott Wilson

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Rabbit hunt on Feb 2nd. It was a hot day but we had a good time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What's the difference between a rabbit hunter and a houndsman.HMMM.. A simple question at first, but is it? I gave this some thought this week. I wasn't able to come up with a whole article on the subject but I did come up with a few key differences.
A rabbit hunter is focused on one thing, shooting rabbits. A houndsman on the other hand is focused on the hounds performance.
A rabbit hunter keeps beagles to increase the number of rabbits he kills. A houndsman shoots rabbits for the sake of the beagles.
A rabbit hunter will normally be found standing in the road, waiting on the rabbit to cross. A houndsman (assuming he is still able bodied) will be in the thickets watching for tell-tell signs of how his dogs are performing.
The rabbit hunter is quite content if his dogs can bring a rabbit back around most of the time. A houndsman is concerned the hounds are working in a manner that is pleasing to him and his senses. For not only must he hear good hound music, he must see hound work that is in his eyes efficient and intensive.
A rabbit hunter will bask in knowing he has one "jump dog." A houndsman will be gratified to see an entire pack of dogs eagerly searching cover.
A rabbit hunter will look at young dogs as a liability. A houndsman will know the young ones are the reason he's hunting.
Let me make this very clear, there is nothing wrong with being a rabbit hunter! If a person loves to shoot rabbits, so be it. In fact, we as sportsmen need to stick together or the anti-hunting groups will be upon us.
Of course there are many folks who may fall somewhere in between. I just want to point out one important reason people will not agree on dogs. The fact is, what is perfectly acceptable to one man, may be terrible to another.
Happy running.

Time is a little short this AM as I have been off hunting the last several days. I just wanted to pass along a couple pictures from yesterdays hunt.

The two black and tans you see are outstanding prodigy of the late FC Cocoa Star. On the left is Preacher Griffith with FC Slab Town Boogie man and on the right is Ronald Phillips with his female Queen of Five Forks.

The other picture is for those who have never seen Swamp rabbits. You can see the standard cottontail Andy is holding compared to the two swampers. For size reference, Ronald is 6'4" tall and the swamper is as long as his torso.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

FC Covington Cocoa Star Aug,1, 1998 - Jan.6, 2008.
This weekend started out pretty normally as far as beagles go. Tony Martin brought a bitch by to breed to Star on Friday. Star did his job just like he always did. I was up early on Saturday and Ken and I went down to Poplar Branch to run a pair of young females. While I was at the trial my wife called to say Star was in the yard playing. Star was never the kind that got out of his kennel. Mostly staying in his dog house unless it was feeding time or he could here the sound of a dog lead giggling. The point is, I was quite surprised to hear he had escapes his pen. Amy was kind enough to catch Star and place him in one of the whelping pens. When I got home I saw that Star had simply torn through the chainlink wire. I've seen dogs do this but never Star. I fed Star a little extra Saturday night as I thought I could see he had been loosing weight the last week or so. On Sunday morning I went to the kennel to load some started pups to go for a run. I was surprised to see Star laying stretched out in his pen, His body was cool but not stiff. I buried Star on the hillside opposing the kennel.
I've heard it said the most important contribution we make to the world is those we leave behind. Star certainly made a large contribution to the world of beagles. We are blessed to have a number of very high class females sired by star. They will allow us to continue the work we have started. Most of the dogs that carry Sta's genes are owned by rabbit hunters. This very fact may keep him from his just recognition as one of modern beagles great sires.
While discussing sires, I remember reading years ago a beagle writer who wrote "If your hunting buddies aren't breeding to your stud dog something is wrong." I can't remember who the writer was or the exact quote but I can tell you this. Houndsmen who saw Star work, breed to him. Anyone who hunted with him knew, he was a rabbit machine. Many hunters had never seen so much intensity from a dog that straddled the track. A couple years ago I got a call from a rabbit hunter wanting to look at some dogs.It was Jimbo Williams. I didn't know Jimbo and he didn't know me. I told him I was running the next day and he was invited to come watch dogs run. I ran Star for him that day. We talked and watched dogs, pretty much the norm. The next day my phone rang, it was Jimbo. He told me he wanted to get some dogs like he saw and how much he liked Star. I think I caught him by surprise when I ask him, "what did you like about Star." He answered me " I just liked the way he ran, I liked how he just turned right where the rabbit went even when the other dogs missed the turn."
I was fortunate enough to co-own Star with Doug Grant since Star was three years old. Star taught me a lot about rabbit hunting. What traits and actions were important and which ones are not. Thanks to Star I was able to make friends and meet people I would have never met. I am lucky to have known such a fine specimen of the breed. Star lived a long life for a stud dog. He was rabbit hunted right up until his death. Star was in the truest sense of the meaning, A RABBIT DOG.