By Brian Spini
Spring is in the air, which means rabbit season is over in most parts of the country. So now what? I have a kennel full of Beagle rabbit hounds and no hunting, making this the perfect time to give a little extra attention to those younger hounds.
Spring is a great time to work your Beagles in the field. The buck rabbits are on the move looking for love. Once jumped, a buck rabbit puts off a ton of scent and will run a large circle, making for some exciting and fast paced action. Conditions are usually great for this type of training during the spring rains. When the ground is moist scenting conditions are prime. Hunting and scenting is bred into the Beagle, but it is up to us to help hone these skills. The lack of hunters and many different pack mates during this time makes for a stress free environment for younger hounds. They have all the time in the world to work things out, without pressure from older hounds. It’s also easier for the handler to get them on a rabbit, then stay back and listen to the hound music.
In early spring, the temperature is comfortable, for you and the hounds, but as summer approaches things can start to heat up fast . As temperatures start to rise be aware of how hot the hounds are getting. Do not allow them to overheat. Remember, they are running in thick cover where there is not much air flow. I adjust my run times according to the temperature. I also run early in the morning or after dark. These little hounds are tough and full of desire; they will run themselves to death if you let them. It is your responsibility to know when it is time to quit, or too hot to work them at all.
Spring and summer also brings fleas and ticks. Make sure both you and the hounds are protected. It also brings snakes; many a Beagle has been bitten by a snake when running in these months. Have a good plan in case this happens. Always have a first aid kit with you. Know what snakes are in your area, and ask a vet what to look for in case you should suspect your hound has been bitten. Always check the hounds at the end of the day for any injuries . Most importantly always have plenty of clean water available while running the hounds.
Just because rabbit season is over doesn’t mean your Beagles are done. Spring is some of the best running of the year. Take precautions for parasites and overheating, and get those hounds out and work them as often as you can. Come rabbit season you will be glad you did.