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November Sneak Peek

Observations From A Rabbit Hunter

By Gary Blevins

When I started running dogs back in 1988, the beagling world was at a crossroads. The Hounds and Hunting magazine I received was 99% brace dogs and there were a couple of pages in the back for gundogs. I was born into a family that hunted deer, quail, coons, squirrels, etc. So, the first beagle I got was gun hunted and that is what I assumed the dogs were meant to be. My mentor, Arlon Culpepper, taught me the ins and outs of what made a good rabbit dog. He told me stories about how the brace beagles had become too slow to hunt and the damage that field trialing had done to the beagle as a hunting hound. My goal was to build a pack of gun dogs that would hunt, circle the rabbit time after time, and do it in a timely manner. Mr. Arlon had told me that if he was going to Michigan, he wanted to get there as fast as possible without being in danger.
My dad and I mostly hunted cut-over pines. It was tough hunting with plenty of briars and cover. If we were to get a shot at a rabbit, it would have to be circled more than once and sometimes multiple times. With years and years of having this ingrained into me, I knew what it took to have a rabbit dog and what qualities they should possess. Those qualities are still necessary today. Those are, first, the desire to hunt for the rabbit. Then, it takes the ability to circle the rabbit continuously in a timely manner. At the other end of the spectrum are negative faults. They are tendencies that will cause the loss of the rabbit. Faults that were, and are, at the top of the list for me are: babbling, quitting and not hunting. Notice that I never mentioned style. I have stood on countless rabbit stands in the freezing cold waiting on the rabbit to come back and style never played into it. I am not going to say that style is not important, because it is. I am saying it is not the most important.

For the remainder of this article, check out page 14 of our November issue!