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

From Thursday 27 October to Saturday 29 October, the rabbit hunting certificate for beagle dogs took place in Aude. 72 dogs took part 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, led by Fabrice Farneda, organized its rabbit hunting certificate. In partnership with the hunters of Limoux, led by Philippe Satgé. From Thursday until this Saturday, in Minervois, around Villemoustaussou and in Limoux, three stages took place where 72 beagles were scrutinized, measured, tested and recorded. Dog owners came from all over France to participate in this event (Brittany, Alsace, Bordeaux, Var, Pyrénées-Orientales, Hérault).

A beagle in action.
Independent – BOYER Claude

“The aim is to select the best hunting dogs and the most beautiful”explains Jean-François Villenave, vice-president of the French Beagle Club and judge for these three days. “This makes it possible to breed. These dogs are recognized by the Kennel Central, which manages the pedigree and the French Club.” Beagle, elegant and sporty dog, short on legs, is of English origin. “He has many abilities to hunt. He is part of the 6e group, that of hunting dogs such as the artesian basset hound”, continues Jean-François Villenave. This hunting certificate is carried out without weapons, only with a pack of four dogs per owner, who leads them for a limited period in hunting rabbits. This Friday morning, near Villemoustaussou, the competitors were in action. “It is not easy today, the weather conditions are not required. With the sea wind the routes are not clear, while it is the opposite with Cers”reports Fabrice Farneda.

“I enjoy watching my dogs work”

The road in hunter’s parlance is the set of tracks that make it possible to detect the passage of an animal. In the armories of Villemacho, made of thorns, bushes, bushes, between two vines, dogs eagerly sniff and search. Under the watchful eye of Jean-François Villenave. “The criterion of making a good hunting dog is that he throws and finds a rabbit, that he leads it by giving voice to the burrow. Ah there, you hear, he groaned, perhaps he has found it.”

Back from the hunt.

Back from the hunt.
Independent – BOYER Claude

The 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 same way as no kill (without killing) for trout fishing, it is the tracking, the understanding of the behavior of the wild prey that dominates. Especially since the rabbit resource has dried up in recent decades. “It depends on the seasons. There are places where there are rabbits and 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 will implement strategies to get the dog off track.” And that’s where the best beagles don’t get caught.

The Beagle, a powerful and elegant dog

According to the references from the dog center, the beagle is a strong, elegant dog, of compact build, lively and mobile, whose head should 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 strong.

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

You should know that the dog does not, in principle, catch the game, although it can sometimes 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 may elapse between the game’s passage and the dog’s passage in the same place.

And the dog can completely lose track of game. The tricks used by the latter, like the rabbit, who 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 only has 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 game and move to cut off its flight. Each dog is trained to track specific game.

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