Sharp is extremely fond of watching his beagles running — to the extent that seeing the dogs work really makes the hunt for him.
“I usually stay with the dogs,” the hunter said. “In fact, I would rather watch them than find a lane to shoot rabbits. want to see what each one is doing, how they’re trailing and how they are braying. I find this especially important when hunting with the younger beagles.
“Since I breed beagles, I am always looking for traits of a better beagle.”
He said the best traits and behaviors in good beagles include jumping rabbits, trailing them and being vocal on the trail.
As for braying, Sharp and other seasoned beaglers can identify their dogs by their distinctive bawls, and can even hear whether they’re on the scent or not.
“But different dogs have a different chop,” he said. “Some sound off with a good howl, whereas others will give off an excited bark.
“I can only see and hear if I am close to them.”
Hunting alongside trailing beagles can also be advantageous in terms of killing rabbits.
Sharp explained this by describing a great hunt on private lands experienced last season.
“Some of the family and a few friends got together to hunt a parcel of private land near Pine Prairie,” he said. “There was a cutover and a good briar patch there alongside a stretch of woods, and we were optimistic by the sign we saw.
“We also had a cool snap going, but not enough for a frost. There was dew on the ground, and the wind was not blowing. For rabbit hunting, it was a perfect day.”
As soon as the beagles were loosed, their bawling and chasing began.
“They actually jumped a rabbit right near my truck,” Sharp said. “And a lot of us were unprepared, as we were still unloading the truck and getting our hunting equipment ready.”
The hunters soon went their separate ways to set up on the jumped rabbit.
“Within five minutes, we had a couple of rabbits down,” he said. “Staying with the dogs, I later kicked up a rabbit that was buried in a thicket, and killed it. That does happen sometimes when you’re actively following your dogs.”
More than 30 rabbits were taken on that day.
“I’ll usually release the dogs from the kennel when everyone is just about ready to go,” Sharp said.
Shooters set up position in a circular area that affords them shots within an acre or two of where the beagles have started the chase. Usually these positions will be on the edge of a cluster of briars or thick areas near a trail, road or field.
“Rabbits will often circle around, giving someone the opportunity at getting a shot at it,” Sharp said. “If someone misses, the rabbit may show up again near another hunter situated some yards away.”