I am also in a situation where I have a nice place to run (only). That place is great for the dogs. Unfortunately the areas I can hunt do not have nearly the number of rabbits, therefore i am reluctant to do gunning there. Think I will save some of that for a young grandson who has shown a desire to hunt rabbits. I want to keep a long family tradition of that hunting going so will save the potential shooting for him.
I try to find the middle of the rd, I am fortunate to have a place just to run but have other places to gunhunt, having said that, like to always keep some seeds ill take 1 maybe 2 at one time I hunt solo alot for me just getting one sometimes is a challenge lol
I wouldn't shoot rabbits where there aren't many period. I would put some native wild ones there regularly and run them regularly as this is very good for the rabbit population.
Personally I would make darn sure me and my buddies shoot half a box of shot gun shells each around them when we are... just running and not killing!
I would also most defiantly ensure we do some shooting with them in fairly close range also and a good bit of it!. A rabbit dog must love this. Hey if they shy out they shy out. If they have shyness in them I strongly desire to see it and the sooner the better. If you desire Rabbit Dogs.....Shooting can be even more important then killing rabbits over them if you have to pick one.
Most beagles can handle all day running and light or lets say average now and then once and a while shooting at certain ranges with... no problem. The problem of gun shyness comes into play when the big shooting, the real hustle and bustle and real shooting begins.... for example on a really good hunt, with lots of game and hunters and all day shooting and some of it in close range of the hounds.
In all actuality what separates a hobby hound from a Rabbit Dog... a.... Gun Dog..... is Rabbit Dogs need to love, crave and thrive on the gunfire and close shooting. They need to be drawn to the middle of it. It must turn them on... not off. Many beagle owners don't agree with this as many don't require it for their needs. For me, my hunting companions and our clients this is one of several, basic, required and essential fundamentals that separates a dog that can run a rabbit from a.... Rabbit Dog!...Huge difference!....Not ......the same animal.
If it were me my thoughts are:
I would make it my business to carry my little hounds to where there was plenty of rabbits and kill rabbits over them a couple times a year... at least... to prove what I am feeding at that point also.
No matter what you hear .....Rabbit Hunting over Rabbit Dogs is very good for them....I promise you it is! It is also the very best culling tool you will every use if you use it.
Besides.....You don't really know if you have Rabbit Dog if your not hunting and killing rabbits with them. Your thinking and hoping you do but you don't know till you test them.
We like to test like we fly. I am always surprised every year the dogs that can really run a rabbit that ain't a ….....Rabbit Dog.....that have to be culled!
If you don't test you don't know. The harder you test the higher the quality of the hounds you keep.
The less you test the more trash your blindly covering up and putting into the hounds you breed if you breed or if you care...
Any thoughts out there about the "need" to kill a rabbit now and then for the sake of the dogs? This was an excellent question. Thanks for asking.
I'm with Spini and them. It's helpful for the young ones. I let them get a mouthful and gnaw on it a little bit. I don't let them keep it or eat it. They get the fur in their mouth, get excited about it, reinforce what they are searching for, but we still keep the meat and eat it. A dog that chews the legs off the rabbit isn't really a great hunting dog, right? Lol. You just might need to get to it pretty quick. I don't ever give the dogs a whole rabbit, but I do make sure they taste the fur when they are young.