Briars and beagles, the perfect match for a late winter morning activity, a chilly but enjoyable few hours in the outdoors with grandson, Danny Miller, an Ohio University junior who was home for his first weekend break from a busy semester.
Of course Dan wanted to spend some time with mom and dad but he’s also attached to his beagle, Daisy, a squirt of a hound that is not only a true briar buster and a rabbit’s worst enemy, but a fine and entertaining house dog.
When Dan is home, he and Daisy are a tight tag team. Dan is a dedicated outdoorsman, a skilled hunter and great fisherman.
On this day, the last Saturday of rabbit season, we were picking through some of Carroll County’s prize briars, the kind of protection and cover late season cottontails favor.
I doubt real seriously if a coyote or raptor hawk could have much luck catching a rabbit in this stuff, but Daisy had no trouble rousting one shortly after we entered the tangle.
You have to know Daisy to appreciate her hunting ability. She’s small, most certainly the runt of the litter. But she has as much hunt in her as any hound I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching and listening to.
In fact, I continue to wonder if she has ever looked at herself in the reflection of a door or a mirror because she obviously has no idea of her physical appearance.
Full of determination
This is a little dog with a big dog attitude. Daisy is full of Yellow Creek blood, a string of good looking, sturdy, and hard-hunting beagles.
On this morning, she proved just how a good she has become in her four years of chasing rabbits. She jumped and trailed each rabbit with little trouble, keeping the chase going in earshot with a steady banter of yips, barks, and howls.
I could kid Dan and his dad about Daisy’s favoritism, because the rabbits she ran came right to Danny. Of course a beagle has very little to say about a rabbit’s tendency to eventually circle back to its starting point, but it makes for at least a chuckle or two.
Beagles are perhaps the most popular hunting dog ever bred. They come in sizes from Daisy to 15 inches, or even larger, where beagles are bred to chase big running northern hares.
Beagles are the easiest hunting dog to train and don’t let anyone tell you a beagle shouldn’t be kept in the house. Beagles like Daisy with bloodlines focused on hunting, rather than show or brace field trial use, can basically train themselves.
They are often enthusiastically trailing rabbits at just five months old. An old adage that is more fact than fiction says that if the owner of a well-bread beagle simply feeds a young hound a steady diet of rabbit tracks, the dog will do the rest.