It's cutting them loose and having the pack run the rabbit until it gives up and goes in a hole or gets caught. And although the dogs usually don't catch it, they run like they want to. Just me and my pack of hounds, in any condition, on any day, in the roughest places I can find . . .

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Time for a Talk with Dennis

I hadn't had a conversation with my favorite dog, Dennis for a long time. The first time I talked with him, he had just survived his first field trial. I talked to him again when I took him to another hunt and he won. I decided maybe it had been too long and figured we should have a talk.

Me: You've been jumping a bunch of rabbits lately.

Dennis:  I love it when I can see them tear out of the briars, scared to death.

Me:  Well, it sure makes it fun to run when you jump so many. You had five jumps yesterday.

Dennis:  Yeah well . . .

Me:  So, uhhmm, keep it up.

Dennis:  By the way, I've been wanting to ask you something.

Me:  Yes?

Dennis:  How come we haven't been going to those things where dogs bark all the time?

Me:  Field trials?

Me:  I've just been enjoying running. We'll go again sometime.

Dennis:  Seems to me like you've just been enjoying riding horses.

Me:  Well, that to.

Dennis:  Is it because I didn't do so well that last cast in the finals? You know at the World with all those dogs.

Me:  Didn't do so well--you stunk Bud!

Dennis:  I know, I kinda lost my head a little.

Me:  A little?

Dennis:  All right, I was running around like a nut job.

Me:  Yep! I was so proud of you the two casts before that. You looked like a million bucks. I knew you were going to be famous. A World Champion. And then--WOW!

Dennis:  At least I got my picture taken. Anyway, if I looked so bad then why are you raising all these pups out of me? Are you wanting to replace me?

Me:  No. I hope you will be an amazing reproducer, like your dad, Logan Elm Neal. You know something special, kind of like magic in a bottle.

Dennis:  I know what kind of magic you want in a bottle.

Me:  OK, enough conversation. Time for you to get back in the box.

I guess I'll never learn. Talking to dogs is probably a sign of being a little crazy or frustrating enough to make me crazy.

Today I ran Dennis, JJ, Dilly, DK, and Martha.  It was 62° and sunny.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

It's All in the Spot

The running this summer has been great. The good conditions with a lot of moisture have helped. Nothing helps more though than having good spots to run. Now, depending on who you ask, beaglers have differing opinions on what makes a great running spot. For me though, nothing beats a big, tough, clearcut with a lot of cover and room to stretch out and run.

I have run one spot 2 or 3 times a week this summer. Usually the most I ever run a spot is once a week. However, every time I have run in this one clearcut I have had at minimum of 2 hours of nonstop running. Jeff Allen and I ran there Tuesday and ran 3 1/2 hours and didn't hardly move. This clearcut is loaded with rabbits, on a steep hillside, and so thick an ant has trouble getting through. Once the dogs get in there and stir up the rabbits, the dogs can run until they can hardly move.

This clearcut has been the most fantastic running spot I have ever run. It helps that it sits in the middle of 1,800 acres of clearcut of all ages. Now, I would like to claim that my superior dogs have been running great and deserve all the credit. Seriously though, I have to admit, it's just one fine spot for running dogs.

Today I ran Dennis, JJ, Poppy, DK, and Dilly. It was 75° and sunny.

A Beagler's Breakfast

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

This Summer Weather

Poppy Walks a Track up the Road
I was watching the news and the weather came on. The Meteorologist said, this is the 19th day in a row that it has rained, but it it about to get better. I know you are ready for some sunshine and we are going to get it. It won't rain for the next two days. I am sure viewers everywhere were celebrating. For beaglers in Ohio though, June has been fabulous!

All of the rain has kept the water holes full. It has made for good scenting conditions. The temperatures have been cooler than normal. All of the factors that make running dogs good have made June a great month to run. Day after day, the dogs have benefited from the weather and chases have been super.

As I listened to the forecast I thought back to today's running. The Old Man and I ran about 4 hours and the dogs never went 5 minutes without a rabbit. Tony had a great day and that helped, but it was cool and wet, and all the dogs ran well. We mostly just sat in our chairs and enjoyed listening to the beagle choir sing.  There was music the entire time and it sure sounded sweet.

I ran Poppy, JJ, Silly, and Dilly. The Old Man ran Tony, Chip, Dixie, and Dissident. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Hunting Mushrooms

There's always time to take a day off from running when the mushrooms are coming up. My daughter, Megan brought Zoom out and we found a good mess. A four year old can really find them when you get him within a few feet.  :)

Carter and his big find.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Looking to the Future

Allen Boyz Kennel
One of the things that keeps beaglers going is thinking about the future. We are always planning litters and dreaming about that special cross. Every pup we start is the next world beater. Every check that our pup gets is the best check ever. We put all our hopes on our dogs on next rabbit season and the next field trial.

Nothing beats the hopes we have for the next generation. As a grandparent, we know our grandson will be an allstar at everything. I put a page on this website just to brag about my grandson, Carter. 

This picture is of my buddy, Jeff Allen with the next generation in his kennel. This is Jeff with Mason, one of Jeff's grandsons. Mason and his older brother, Xavier have already started to run dogs and will be rabbit hunting in no time.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Certain Style

Do your dogs have a certain style? Do they run alike? Work a check alike? Drive out of a check alike? When someone sees a dog, do they know if it would fit in your pack?

I was talking with southeastern Kentucky beagler, Greg Sammons on Sunday and he asked how I picked dogs I was going to keep. I tried to describe a certain style that my favorite dogs all had. All had a straight away drive out of the check. It's not blazing fast, but they didn't falter or fall off. They just drove out of a check with a controlled power. 

When I think of the best dogs at Logan Elm Beagles, Hobo, Neal, Nada, Willie, Gypsy all had that style. When a pup starts, without even thinking about it, I compare him to these dogs and their look when they ran. When I am making a cross, I consider the likelihood that it will produce dogs that fit.

Naturally, it's not just as easy as finding dogs to fit the style. I look for independent hunt, and dogs with the stamina to quit only when I make them get in the truck. I want a good mouth that I can pick out. I also want the conformation to withstand day after day of pounding running.

As I was running last night, I was thinking about all this. Recently, I have been making an adjustment to my pack. Some dogs I have had for a while are gone. Some dogs that haven't been run much are getting more hours. My pack wasn't running as smooth as they should. Dogs were getting too rough and wide in the check area. Those that stay will have a certain style. 

I ran Dennis, Cole, Poppy, JJ, and Silly. It was 57° with a little rain.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Longest Walk

The judge yells, handle your dogs. The cast is over. You catch your dog and start back to the truck. You know the score is close. Your stomach is knotted. Your head aches. All the fun of the cast is gone. Pressure is thicker than the thickest fog. 

You are trying to go over the scoring one more time. You can't remember how many checks the yellow collar dog had after the last race. The handlers are making small talk, but you can't concentrate. All that work, training for months, and dreaming, and hoping comes down to the next few minutes. You just want to get this over with. Your heart is pounding like a big bass drum.

Questions pound your brain. Did I get that last check? How much were they scoring that pink collar? I know my dog sounded good, but was it enough? What dog was that with the chop mouth that I heard so much at the end? I know my dog was leading, but did yellow collar catch me? 

It's the longest walk.

Picture by Jeff Allen at 2015 World Hunt

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Lotta Action

Running Grounds at the World Hunt
The best part of going to the World Hunt is visiting with friends and fellow beaglers. It's 3 or 4 days of nonstop dog talk so for a beagle addict like me it is perfect. When a conversation starts, you never know where it will go, but below is one I had with a guy, and long time beagler, Bob Lahti.

Beagler:  The next round will be tough.
Me:  Really?
Beagler: Yep, got two *** ***** (kennel name) dogs in it.
Me: Well, it will be ugly
Beagler: What?
Me: They will be rough and they might be hard to beat, but it will be ugly for sure if there are two *** ***** dogs in it.
Beagler:  They aren't that rough.
Me:  Well, there's always a first time.
Me:  What do you think Bob?
Bob Lahti:  Be a lotta action.

If you have never met Bob Lahti, he is a gentleman and an all around good guy. He also knows rabbit dogs and always runs some good hounds. He taught me something at the World. From now on when I see a rough, blow up the race, I have to have the front, skirting, cheating dog, I'll know what to say: He's got a lotta action. And if it's one of mine, I'll have the perfect description of his running style.   :)

Picture by Jeff Allen at 2015 World Hunt

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I Lost When I Should

I think I got off one exit too soon!
I always try to be a good sport but sometimes it is extremely difficult. I hate to lose. I am not 100% sure it is a good thing, but practice has made losing a little easier. The ARHA Little Pack World Hunt challenges everyone's sportsmanship. When you spend months focusing on the one goal of winning the World, losing is heartbreaking.

This year at the World Hunt, I lost when I should have. And that's a good thing. In all the casts that I lost, my dogs got beat. No crying. No complaining. I had good judges that knew hounds and judged the dogs fair. Looking back at each time I lost, whether it was in the first round or last, the dogs got beat, period.

The judging this year was the best I have seen in 20 years of attending the World Hunt. The judges gave everything they had to stay with the hounds. In some casts they were put in incredibly difficult spots, but they made the best of it, and still managed to get the right dog back. In every cast, the judges were judging the hounds. I didn't see one incident of favoritism, or buddy judging.

Anyone who has ever attended a field trial knows how hard it is to lose. It makes it a little easier though, when you know your dog had a fair shot and just got beat. Great job to all the guys that stepped up, took a score card, and judged.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dennis gets Third at ARHA World Hunt

The Old Man and Logan Elm Dennis
One thing that always makes it fun to go to a field trial is when your dog runs like you know he should. At the 2015 ARHA Little Pack World Hunt, Dennis made it a blast for me. At only two years old, I knew he was too young to be competitive on such a large stage (around 700 beagles), but they way he had been running I decided to give him a shot. By the time it was over, I was glad I did.

He ran the first time in the third round on Thursday, the first day. When I cut him loose he acted like he had spent a couple of days in the trailer. He stood around, ate some grass, peed on 5 or 6 bushes and really just got me aggravated. Finally he got bored and decided to go hunt. His cast had one hard chase in particular that lasted about 20 minutes and I heard him in there a lot. By the end of the cast, he was moving on to the next round. He didn't run great, but sounded good for his age and experience.

Dennis didn't run again until Saturday morning. He sat around in the trailer while they ran the first rounds of the Champion and Grand Champions on Friday. When we cast the hounds on Saturday, he acted ready to go and was gone as soon as I cut him loose. It took this cast about 10 minutes to get a rabbit. He opened first and I thought he might have a jump but only was scored a strike. They dogs ran hard for about 40 minutes. When the chase ended he was in second place, 15 points behind the leader. 

The dogs had one more chase and with about five minutes left had a long check. One dog was hacking around trying to backtrack. Twice I saw Dennis start towards her. He kept trying to work the other way down this gravel road. Finally, as all the other dogs got clear down the hill on the backline, he worked far enough down the road to get the check. This was the best minute of the hunt for him and he ran well for the rest of the cast, which had no more checks. This check gave him the cast win.

Sunday morning, Dennis started out in the semi-finals. This was a cast of great dogs, great handlers and true sportsman. I got really good judges, Matt Glomski and Jeremy Rice. Dennis ran like he was at home in this cast. I was pleased that he controlled the track, getting a lot of short checks and keeping the race going. This was the best pack of dogs I saw at the World Hunt this year.

After winning this cast, Dennis went straight to the finals to compete against two other dogs for the title of World Champion. Chris Holstein was handling an eight year old female and Frank Fulks had his five year old female. This proved to be the undoing for Dennis. Unfortunately, his age and lack of experience caught up with him. Within minutes I could tell he was shot. He just lacked the intensity needed to compete. Physically he was still strong but he just didn't have the maturity to hang in there. Congrats are due to Coalfield Kennels on their win. Their dog earned it.

Looking back at the ARHA World Hunt, I am pleased with Dennis. He did better than I could have ever hoped. Very few two year old dogs manage to accomplish what he did. He will get a few days off and then we can just go run for fun. No more field trials for us for a while.

Picture by Jeff Allen at 2015 World Hunt

Monday, April 13, 2015

The 2015 World Hunt

Larry Harrison and the Old Man
Two World Hunt Old Timers for Sure!
There is no beagle event like the ARHA Little Pack World Hunt. With over 700 rabbit hounds and beaglers from all over the United States it is truly amazing. Even after attending for 20 years in a row, this is still the highlight of my year. Nothing can beat the friendship, competition, sportsmanship, and fun at the World Hunt.

In a lot of ways the World is like a big family reunion. Beaglers from all over have the chance to visit with friends from near and far. I really enjoyed seeing so many people, catching up, and sharing a few laughs. Occasionally some bad news is shared and I always go home thinking of the struggles facing friends, and hoping for the best.

Meeting people is a big part of the World Hunt. So many people have connected on the phone or computer and this is a chance to put a face to the name. When strangers draw out together on a cast, one of the first question people ask is, where are you from? Then it's, what line of dogs do you run? Within minutes friendships are made that will be renewed each year.

I handled or spectated in 14 casts over four days. In cast after cast, judges gave their all to be sure the right dogs moved on in the hunt. For anyone that hasn't seen the reclaimed strip mine ground where they hold the World Hunt, it's hard to imagine any better spot for cottontail rabbits anywhere.  It's great for rabbits and dogs, but the Scericia Lespedeza, briars, swampy cane patches, and grounds that seem to go forever make it hard on judges.

I ran in and watched a lot of casts that ran 50+ minutes out of the hour. The rabbit population was amazing and the majority of casts had plenty of running to sort the dogs. I did run in one cast where there were too many rabbits. We caught the dogs eight times on splits. The judges deserve credit though. They did everything in their power to make it fair for everyone.

The picture below is really what the World Hunt is all about--people just hanging out having fun, supporting each other when someone runs a dog, and lending an ear with the disappointment of a loss. I had a blast at the 2015 World Hunt. Thanks so much to all the people that shared their friendship. I will see you next year.

Jeff Kerns, Chase Derrick, Scott Derrick,
Scotty Derrick and Josh Elkers at the World

Pictures by Jeff Allen at 2015 World Hunt