Aude: beagle dogs, a hell of a flair for tracking rabbits

From Thursday October 27 to Saturday October 29, the rabbit hunting certificate took place for beagle dogs in Aude. 72 dogs participated in this event and could qualify for the national final in Lunel in February 2023.

For the 20th consecutive year, the Aude delegation of the French Beagle Club, chaired by Fabrice Farneda, organized its rabbit hunting certificate. In partnership with the hunters of Limoux, chaired by Philippe Satgé. Since Thursday and until Saturday, in the Minervois, around Villemoustaussou and in Limoux, three stages took place during which 72 beagle dogs were scrutinized, gauged, tested and noted. Dog owners came from all over France to take part in this event (Brittany, Alsace, Bordeaux, Var, Pyrénées-Orientales, Hérault).

A beagle in action.
Independent – BOYER Claude

“The objective is to select the best hunting dogs and the most beautiful”explains Jean-François Villenave, vice-president of the French beagle club and judge during these three days. “This then makes it possible to breed. These dogs are recognized by the canine central which manages the pedigrees and the French club.” The beagle, elegant and sporty dog, short on legs, is of English origin. “He has a lot of ability to hunt. He is part of the 6e group, that of hounds such as the Artesian basset hound”, continues Jean-François Villenave. This hunting certificate takes place without a gun, just with a pack of four dogs per owner who leads them for a limited time in search of rabbits. This Friday morning, near Villemoustaussou, the competitors were in action. “It’s not easy today, the weather conditions are not required. With the sea wind, the routes are not clear while it is the opposite with the Cers”reports Fabrice Farneda.

“I enjoy seeing my dogs work”

The path in hunter language is the set of traces which make it possible to detect the passage of an animal. In Villemacho’s warrens, made of brambles, shrubs, bushes, between two plots of vines, dogs eagerly sniff and search. Under the watchful eye of Jean-François Villenave. “The criteria for making a good hunter dog is that he throws and finds a rabbit, that he leads it by giving voice to the burrow. Ah there, you hear, he moaned, it’s maybe he found it.”

Back from the hunt.

Back from the hunt.
Independent – BOYER Claude

Passionate Fabrice Farneda practices this hunt with his beagles “exciting”. “I don’t take the gun. I go and enjoy watching my dogs work.” In the manner of no kill (without killing) for trout fishing, it is the tracking, the understanding of the behavior of the wild prey which predominates. Especially since the rabbit resource has dried up in recent decades. “It depends on the seasons. There are places where there are rabbits and then other years it’s over because they will have been victims of myxomatosis or viral hemorrhagic disease.”

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An exciting hunt because “the rabbit is cunning” emphasizes Jean-François Villenave. “He’s going to implement strategies to get the dog off track.” And that’s where the best beagles don’t get caught.

The beagle, a vigorous and distinguished hound

According to the references of the canine central, the beagle is a vigorous, distinguished dog, of compact construction, lively and moving, whose head must be strong without being heavy, the square lip, with flat ears with well rounded ends. Dark brown eyes have a lively expression, the whip is carried cheerfully. The hair is short and resistant.

The beagle belongs to the category of hounds. Thanks to its flair, it tracks and moves its prey while yelping. The game with the dog on its heels, roams its territory on tracks that it already knows very well.

It should be known that the dog does not catch, in principle, the game, even if sometimes it can happen. He tracks him by smell. During this chase, the game manages to put some distance between him and the dog. Depending on the game and the temperature conditions, a time of about thirty seconds to twenty minutes can elapse between the passage of the game and that of the dog in the same place.

And the dog can completely lose track of game. The tricks used by the latter, like the rabbit which is very clever, are sometimes frustrating for the dog. It is believed that the dog brings the game back to its master and that the latter has only to wait. In reality, it is not the dog that leads the hunt, but rather the game that decides where it will go. The hunter must therefore anticipate the path of the game and move to cut off its escape. Each hound is trained to track a particular game.

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