Small game hunting is one of the most common types of hunting in the United States. Within the realm of small game hunting, there are many different species hunted during the year. One of my personal favorites is taking on the challenge of small game hunting for rabbits.
Where I live in Pennsylvania, rabbits can be extremely tricky to track down and hunt during the season. Each year I like to take some time out of the tree stand and chase after rabbits instead of deer. My favorite way to do this is alongside my two hunting buddies Copper and Scout.
Copper and Scout are my two beagles that are trained to pick up on the scent of rabbits and track them down, and most of the time they lead the rabbits right to me. Having beagles that are trained to rabbit hunt makes the experience so much more exciting and sometimes easier. The process of training any type of hunting dog can be very long and challenging, but once they master the craft it all pays off with some amazing hunts.
Why Use Beagles When Rabbit Hunting?
Rabbit hunting can be very tricky at times especially in the early small game season when there is no snow on the ground to track rabbits. The use of rabbit dogs provides numerous different positives that help you make your hunts more successful. The most commonly used dog for rabbit hunting is a beagle.
Beagles have a very powerful noise that allows them to lock on to a scent and follow it. This allows for hunters to hang back and wait for the perfect moment to shoot, while these beagles track down and flush out rabbits right to you. Beagles can also be trained to retrieve rabbits once they are shot and bring the rabbit back to you.
Beagles will also make your rabbit hunting experience easier because of their smaller size. Rabbits tend to live in thick brush and brush piles, which can be hard for a human to enter in the hope to kick out a rabbit. With beagles, you can send them into the brush to kick the rabbit out to you without ever having to try and climb through brush piles. This makes your rabbit hunts much easier and more enjoyable.
Beagle Training Tips
When it comes to rabbit hunting with a dog it can be very rewarding. However, this is only if your dog is properly trained for the job it needs to do. When training a beagle to be a rabbit dog there are many steps that you need to follow to ensure your dog is properly trained for the hunt.
Step 1: Teach Them Basic Commands
The first step in the training process when training a beagle to rabbit hunt is the basics you would train any dog. You want to begin by teaching your new pup things such as sit, stay, and come here when you call their name. These things are very important when taking your beagles on a hunt because you want to be able to control them at all times during the hunt.
Step 2: Introduce a Rabbit’s Scent
The next step would be introducing your beagle pup to a rabbit’s scent. You can do this in many different ways such as using a rabbit’s foot or hide from a previously harvested rabbit. You could also purchase a bottle of liquid rabbit scent and use a drag cloth or training toy with the scent. You begin by just playing with your pup with the scent as a way to get them used to chasing and tracking the scent of a rabbit.
Step 3: Bring Them Into the Woods
The third step would be introducing your pup to the woods. I like to begin this part of the training by first getting the dog fitted and used to wearing a shock collar. Although shock collars are not a necessity when hunting with dogs, I always like to make sure my dogs have them on at all times in the woods. This is in the case that a dog picks up on a deer’s scent and takes off on the trail. You can break them off the deers scent and return them to the rabbit scent. However, this is not a common occurrence for an older well trained dog, but when dealing with puppies it is always better to be safe. You would then begin taking your pup for walks in the woods getting them used to the terrain and all the different things they may encounter on a hunt.
Step 4: Test Their Tracking Skills
Once you have confidence that your beagle is familiar with rabbit scent it is very important to test their tracking skills. There are two different ways to go about doing this. The first would be using a drag covered in rabbit scent and dragging it through your yard or the woods. This leaves the rabbit scent on the ground for your dog to follow. You would then bring out your beagle and see if they can not only get on the scent but also follow it. The other way you could do this would be if you ever see a rabbit in your yard you would bring your dog right to that area and see if it can pick up on the rabbit scent and track it.
Step 5: Start Hunting!
Once you know your beagle has all the training needed to pick up on a rabbit’s scent and track it, the fun begins. You can now take your dog out on its first hunt. It’s important to remember the first few hunts will be very new to your beagle and it may take a few times for him/her to master the craft of rabbit hunting. Within no time, you and your beagle will be having the times of your lives out in the woods hunting rabbits.
Camping While Hunting
One of my favorite things to do while out hunting for any animal is to camp out the night before. I typically do this on property that I lease in New York, where I will camp out for a weekend while hunting. This creates memories with friends and family while on hunting trips like no other. Waking up early and heading out into the woods from your camp is something I highly recommend every hunter experience at least once in their life.
One awesome way to experience hunting while camping is in an RV. Many hunters use campers to stay right on the hunting grounds and have access to a shower, water, and a kitchen. If you don’t have an RV, you can always find a camper rental for as little as $50 per night!
I hope you found this information helpful and useful. Rabbit hunting with beagles is one of the most enjoyable hunting experiences I’ve ever had in my personal life. The thrill and excitement of hearing your beagles bark when they’re on the trail of a rabbit is something that will stick with you forever! I wish you and your beagles the best of luck the next time you hit the woods after some rabbit. Happy hunting!