Rabbit hunting with beagles is an activity growing in popularity with new participants getting started all the time. If you've come across a new Beagler, you were likely bombarded with a series of questions about the adventure upon which they are about to embark. It is also possible that you are new to rabbit dogs yourself and have questions in need of answering. Well, here are some tips to share with those starting out, or to keep for your own personal use.
1. While hunting with rabbit dogs is a fun activity, that does not mean safety can be forgotten or disregarded. Safety should always be a number one priority before, during, and after the hunt. With this in mind, practicing firearms safety at all times is essential. Depending on where you live, there may be laws regarding traveling with a loaded weapon, so check into those first and act accordingly. Beyond that, however, you should always treat all weapons as if they are loaded and keep them pointed in a safe direction; in other words, away from anything you do not intend to shoot. When moving about, carry your gun safely by placing the muzzle end over your shoulder so it points skyward; while some people advise that guns are carried pointed toward the ground, this opens you up to the risk of falling on your gun, jamming the barrel with dirt and debris as well as possibly an accidental discharge. Until the time comes to shoot, keep the gun on safe if a safety feature is available. When you do take a shot, be certain you are not firing in the direction of other hunters.
Photo: Prairie Wildlife
2. Outfitting yourself, and your rabbit dogs, is vital to successful hunting. Long pants and long sleeve shirts will protect skin from briars. Donning these clothes in a camouflage pattern is acceptable, but don't forget to add the required amount of safety orange per laws in your area. To keep feet dry, rubber boots are useful, and if you hunt in areas where snakes are a problem, adding snake chaps to your arsenal doesn't hurt either. As far as your rabbit dogs go, they should be outfitted with collars that bear both your and their names along with contact information. Another essential part of their gear is a well-stocked first aid kit with current, non-expired medications in it. Don't forget to bring bowls to provide water and allow dogs to drink as needed. Also bring some emergency provisions for yourself, such as food, water, a cell phone, matches, first aid kit, flashlight, and a compass for those just in case scenarios that may present themselves.
Photo: Beagle Puppy Blogspot
3. Remember to be patient! Once dogs are let loose, give them time to jump a rabbit. If it seems like the rabbit is putting distance between it and you, don't worry as rabbits run in circles and that rabbit will return although it could take a bit of time. When your rabbit dogs are working, don't crowd or get in their way. Have faith in your dogs and let them do their jobs. Once a kill is made, go ahead and field dress your rabbit then place it in your bag to help keep the meat from going sour as quickly. Coolers full of ice are particularly helpful on long days.
Photo: Elite Journalist
4. Most of all, have fun! Hunting with rabbit dogs can be a spectacular experience, so get out there any enjoy the day with your dogs.
Do you have any advice you'd like to share with new hunters, or even reminders for old ones? Let us know in the comments!