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Beagling - has anyone done this?

(23 Posts)
Xiaoxiong Thu 27-Sep-12 11:03:37

For various unavoidable reasons it looks like there will be regular beagling in DH's future. It sounds like fun to me on the basis of the little I've been told.

I understand it's like hunting, but instead of on horseback you run along behind the dogs, instead of foxhounds it's a pack of beagles and instead of chasing foxes they follow a drag scent.

I adore dogs, grew up with them and am very comfortable with that side of things, but they've always been of the 57-variety rescue type and all this stuff Google is showing me about hock height and breast angles is rather confusing. Are you even allowed to pet the beagles? If we have our own dog can we bring it along? (And why are they so worried about the colour of their coats??)

My conception of hunting, being American, usually involves either moose or assault weapons (usually both), so I'm not sure I am really thinking this through properly.

DH is due to meet the huntsman at the kennels at some point and I've been invited along, but I am worried I will make a terrible arriviste faux pas. (I've been led to believe by Downton Abbey that turning up in a brand new Barbour will solidify eternal non-U status and it would be preferable to wear my great grandfather's, belted with twine....)

Can anyone help? DH is being very vague - at first he wasn't even sure whether women could come along hmm

Scuttlebutter Thu 27-Sep-12 13:05:11

If you've been invited to the kennels, then it doesn't sound like it will be for a meet, but to have a look at the hounds and to be shown round. As a woman, you will be made very welcome and they won't give a hoot what you wear, though sensible footwear is probably a good idea. When you visit a hunt kennel, the staff are known as hunt servants - they will be wearing a check shirt, probably a flat cap and a long tan coloured kennel coat. The huntsman will be in charge of the kennels and will be assisted by kennel huntsmen - they will be polite and courteous and delighted to answer any questions you or DH have.

Beagles may well jump up at you, and lick your hands - usually very friendly though slightly loopy. smile You are welcome to pat/stroke them. I would leave your own dog at home.

The huntsman will know the names and pedigrees of every single hound, and a great deal about their individual characteristics. Dogs and bitches are kept separately, but live communally in lodges.

For various reasons I've had a lot to do with hunt kennels at different parts of my life and if you are interested in how hounds work, they are fascinating. Most hunting people are usually very warm and welcoming and are delighted to meet anyone who is genuinely interested in how hunting works/is managed.

I don't know much about beagling specifically as my experience has been with foxhound packs but why not go along with an open mind?

And I certainly wouldn't regard Downton ( much as I love it) as an infallible guide to hunting etiquette - quite the reverse. grin

Don't know about beagling but in Wales, foxhound packs are extremely friendly, and renowned for consuming larqe quantities of alcohol and lots of "extra curricular" actitivities. wink

Xiaoxiong Thu 27-Sep-12 14:18:01

Thanks Scuttle, so no moose and assault weapons? grin I am genuinely interested, I love dogs and the lovely comfortable English countryside and this seems like a nice combination of the two.

We've been invited to the kennels just for fun and we'll probably have the huntsman round for drinks as well, so thanks for your advice on what to expect. DH will be going out with the beagles at least three times a week, including Saturdays, so that's why I asked if there was any scope for me coming along sometimes (otherwise I will never see him in the season). Maybe when DS is older he could go too (he is only 9 months at the moment...)

Poor old DH will be policing the "extra curriculars" to make sure the boys don't get sozzled and then he has to drive them home again so he won't get to partake himself (it's a school pack).

I guess the huntsman will be able to advice on the all important question of what to wear - I assume wellies and a heavy coat would be rather constricting when running after 50 beagles across country.

But if we can't bring our own dog along to meets, then that may put a stop to us getting one of our own...hmm.

Scuttlebutter Thu 27-Sep-12 16:30:30

You could certainly take your dog (on a lead) along to a meet - no problem, but not out hunting. I was thinking more of visiting the kennel. I found this very handy guide - here - will give you a heads up on what to expect. This website will also explain quite a bit about other aspects too.

You will see a big difference in the appearance of the hunt servants from the kennel to hunting days. They will look immaculate on hunting days in smart well cut hunting coats, peaked black velvet hats, and white breeches. It's a good idea to ask them to take you through what the different horn calls mean. You will have a lovely time. smile

BurlingtonBertieFromBow Thu 27-Sep-12 16:35:33

You will freeze to death, be warned. Even if the weather doesn't seem that cold it will GET cold. Layer up.

You don't have to run along with the dogs unless you're whipping in. I advise not doing that. Just stand about the field talking and drinking slow gin. What usually happens is the pack disappears over the nearest hill and you don't see them for 2 hours. You occasionally hear yelping. They barely ever catch anything because hare = approximately 3 x faster than a beagle.

But it is quite social and pleasant if the countryside is looking pretty.

Xiaoxiong Thu 27-Sep-12 16:50:49

Oooh burlington I like your style - I think I could get used to that! I'll tell DH about the cold, his old coat is falling apart and isn't waterproof. I guess he can wear his wellies or hiking boots if he's not going to be loping across country after the dogs.

Scuttle I will definitely ask about the hunting calls. I wonder if DH will have to wear a hunting coat and white breeches too. He does wear silly enough clothes to teach, but unfortunately for me and my Jane Austen fantasies I doubt white breeches will be required.

Thanks for the link and all the encouragement, I will definitely go along and have a good time. I have probably massively outed myself as well now, as there can't be too many schools that have their own pack of beagles...

Scuttlebutter Thu 27-Sep-12 16:54:10

I also like Burlington's point about drinking lots of sloe gin - grin

You've just got time to start picking some/making some bottles. smile

BurlingtonBertieFromBow Thu 27-Sep-12 16:57:30

Also you will get hungry so take chocolate. Also you may need a pee so try not to drink tooo much

Xiaoxiong Thu 27-Sep-12 17:04:57

Chocolate and snacks I can do. Ditto damson gin as I have a freezer-full of damsons and have already made enough jam to last the winter. Too bad DS can't come too but it doesn't really sound like a toddler-friendly activity, he'll enjoy some bonding time with his DGM.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 27-Sep-12 17:16:34

They barely ever catch anything because hare = approximately 3 x faster than a beagle

And of course it is illegal to hunt anything apart from rats/rabbits with dogs....

TheGOLDCunnyFunt Thu 27-Sep-12 19:34:39

Buy a SheWee, that'll solve the problem of not being able to drink too much wink

BurlingtonBertieFromBow Thu 27-Sep-12 23:30:47

"And of course it is illegal to hunt anything apart from rats/rabbits with dogs...."

Oh er um yes of course.

Smallgreenone Fri 28-Sep-12 05:23:24

Lucky you! I would love to go beagling but there aren't any hunts near us. I used to foxhunt but haven't for years and the whole hunting day out is super fun. We are proud owners of a mad beagle too and they are just super hounds. Enjoy yourself.

swooosh Fri 28-Sep-12 05:24:59

I do my own version of Beagling. Cue visions of the Fenton video, me chasing my Beagle as she tears across the field towards unsuspecting teens having a picnic.

It does sound lovely though, my Beag would adore it.

hippermiddleton Fri 28-Sep-12 10:38:55

Ooh, and if you're a real glutton for punishment, you could be a puppy walker...

[goes all warm inside thinking of kennels full of tired-out, sleepy hounds with someone else wrangling the madness ]

Scuttlebutter Fri 28-Sep-12 11:51:07

Oooh, Hipper, yes, what a lovely idea grin A beautiful bundle of (insane) beagle puppy loveliness....

Arf at Swooosh chasing her beagle across country as it raids picnics grin

sunflowerseeds Sun 30-Sep-12 19:52:22

The object of beagling is to kill hares. Nobody, anywhere, can even pretend that hares are vermin so it is killing wild animals just for fun and is now illegal, along with bear-baiting and cock-fighting. You could probably find a dog-fighting crowd if you ask around. Do make sure you get the correct togs.

Xiaoxiong Mon 01-Oct-12 12:09:46

Er...ok. I haven't been out myself yet but it's drag hunting (ie. the dogs follow a trail laid across the ground by one of the boys). They don't kill anything at all. It's a canine version of a paperchase.

Not really sure what you're talking about with dog-fighting and bear-baiting??

sunflowerseeds Mon 01-Oct-12 18:34:27

If it really is drag hunting then I apologise for including you in with the killing-for-fun lot.
Many hunts claim they are drag hunting while actually carrying on the same as before the law changed. The police have no interest in their activities.
I think Wellington and Marlborough College have beagles.

dottygamekeeper Mon 01-Oct-12 22:18:10

I used to beagle, and took DS from 2 weeks old - we went out 3 times a week during his first year as my DH was Master, I carried DS in sling, then in backpack. It got a bit more complicated when he was a toddler and I had baby DD as well, but once they were both walking we used to go out for part of the afternoon. Wear neutral (brown/green preferably) waterproof coat, wellies or walking boots, and take snacks and maybe a drink. There will often be drinks and snacks at the start of the meet and a beagling tea afterwards. My father is currently Master of a pack of beagles. Beagles are very friendly and not as big as foxhounds, therefore less daunting for small children.

Xiaoxiong Tue 02-Oct-12 11:46:33

dotty thank you, that's really helpful advice! I didn't realise we might be able to bring DS along too. We have a brilliant back-carry sling for him so we could definitely take him that way.

Yay I am really excited now, what could be better than friendly well-trained dogs, a walk in the countryside and tea before and afterwards smile

Scuttlebutter Tue 02-Oct-12 11:56:56

And don't forget the sloe gin! wink

numptysmummy Tue 02-Oct-12 14:07:25

Would leave your own dog home if you have one - my local pack isn't keen because of risk of kennel cough etc. It's great fun though, am looking forward to watching the puupy i walked last year out on his first hunt.

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