To beagle – it’s a verb that refers to the sport of using a pack of beagles to enjoy a tramp about in the outdoors during the winter months observing the diminutive hounds as they attempt to sort out the vagaries of scent in pursuit of the wily wabbit.
Rest assured that the bunnies have not only a distinct advantage, they are so adept at eluding any minimal threat to their well-being that one can only wonder why we two-footed ‘hunters’ even bother to spend our time pretending to be in earnest about all this silliness.
The truth is that we take our fun very seriously here in The Valley, and once the riding season is at low ebb, any excuse to get outside for a bit of exercise and camaraderie is not to be taken lightly. Since rabbits have a small territory and the winter absence of leaves on the brush where they live, they are easily observed and followed on foot.
I feel compelled to regularly explain to the uninitiated that hunting with hounds (beagles, bassets, foxhounds) in this country (the U.S.) has nothing to do with seeking to kill anything. We hound lovers are outdoor folk who enjoy watching a bunch of doggies try to solve a puzzle. They seek, they find (sometimes), they chase (for as long as they can follow the scent – not an easy thing, given wind, temperature, moisture, and skill of the quarry at mixing things up by being unpredictable), and (occasionally) they ‘account for’ that which they seek (we know where the object of our efforts went, usually safely down a hole).
The local beagling season’s traditional Opening Meet takes place on New Year’s Day, being held this year on Roots Tavern Road off Rte. 39 north of Geneseo. The weather could not have been more accommodating for the 2 o’clock meet with thirty-some enthusiasts taking part on a calm sunny day with temperatures in the 40s.
Of the eight hounds, Cassie has been retired due to age and related health issues and Lacey will not leave her when we take the pack out so they are left in the kennel yard to hunt rabbits while we exercise the six other ladies. Penny had been stricken with heartworm and went through a tough regimen this past spring and summer to get rid of them. She is now recovered and is like the energizer bunny, and with her great nose, she is a joy to watch. Wilma is young but social and is working towards becoming an excellent new member of the pack. Yeller, Inkspot, Voulez-vous, and Lola have accepted the new beagles and hunt well with them. 2017 is going to be a fun season!
Local residents and their guests are welcome to join in at no charge on Sunday afternoons at 2:00 for a bit of sport followed by a tailgate tea or one hosted at the home of a local regular.
For more information, I can be contacted at (585)739-1329. I do not answer calls on my cell from unknown callers, so please leave a message and I will get back to you.
Here is an interesting winter time activity – an online course offered by the University of Florida. You can earn a certificate for a cost of $49.00, or it is free if you just want to learn. The Coursera Horse Course: Introduction to Basic Care and Management can be found here.