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The new AMHB DVD

In Kennels DVD coverIntroducing the new AMHB DVD
…Seven modules celebrating skills in Harrier and Beagle Kennels
…Seven stories that glimpse life ‘In Kennels’
£13.99 (inc P&P) - Overseas orders:£15.00 each. …

Leave your kennel coat on the peg and your boots by the door; this is a kennels tour you can make from your armchair. You'll experience the icy yards of winter and the summer heat of the puppy show; you'll be there in the small hours as a bitch whelps and up at dawn to exercise hounds. With this DVD you share the lives of three professional huntsmen.

Beagling for beginners

Beagling is ideally suited to anyone who enjoys being out in the British countryside, appreciates nature and is interested in working hounds.

  • Beagling is an enjoyable outdoor sport open to all. It is a form of hunting; the hounds are followed on foot not horseback, making the sport great fun, and as energetic as you would like it to be!

  • Beagles are small hounds which have been especially bred for hunting hares. Hounds are always counted in ‘couples’, so if you hear that there are ‘thirteen and a half out’ please do not worry that a two-legged beagle might be being expected to hunt with the others!

  • It is inexpensive and newcomers need no specific equipment other than warm and sturdy footwear and clothing.

  • Beagling takes place in the autumn and winter, from September to March, and usually occurs on a Saturday afternoon and one afternoon in the week.

  • There are 67 packs of beagles in Britain, each occupying a distinct ‘hunt country’ of their own, which can vary greatly in terrain and farming practice from one pack to the next.

  • Hunts meet in a variety of places, from grand houses to farms to pubs and even gateways! A meet card is usually produced each season detailing the time and location of each meet. These are available to members from the secretary of each hunt.

  • Hunt officials are usually easily spotted out hunting by their uniform of green hunt coats, white breeches and hunting caps. Each hunt will have a Master or a number of joint masters, who are responsible for the day-to-day aspects of running the hunt. One of the masters of a beagle pack is often also the huntsman. He is responsible for hunting the hounds on a hunting day. He will be assisted by a number of whippers-in and others. If you are a newcomer, introduce yourself, hunt officials are usually very friendly!

  • The pack of hounds is taken from a meet to hunt in the surrounding country. Traditionally they hunt the hare but since the 2004 Hunting Act, the hunted ‘quarry’ has been a ‘trail’, an artificial scent or rabbits.

Some dos and don’ts of beagling

DO… Newcomers to the sport should always make themselves known to the Master or Hunt Secretary. It is courteous to speak to the Hunt Secretary before the days hunting and ask if you can join the days events. The secretary will introduce them to other members of the field and most will be happy to explain the day and pass on their knowledge of hunting.

DON’T… It is often recommended not to take dogs out beagling at first, and it varies from one pack to another whether they are permitted at all.

DO…At every meet hunt officials and followers will greet one another with “Good Morning” even if after 12pm, and similarly bid each other “Good Night” at the end of the day.

DO… Listen to the hunting horn! The huntsman will direct the hounds, and the field will learn what is happening, with a hunting horn. Different notes and length of note will mean different things - the sound of ‘going home’ should be learnt quickly to avoid still being out in the countryside at 9pm having missed the traditional and always delicious after beagling tea!

DO… close gates and respect livestock and crops.

DON’T….. Hamper the work of the hounds, when hounds or huntsman are nearby, try not walk near them or chat to others too loudly.

DON’T … overtake the huntsman! When hounds are running, it is a courtesy to follow the huntsman, not run ahead of him. When a huntsman stops suddenly, try to do likewise as he has most often stopped for a reason!

DO… learn the various hunting terms and names of the hounds – it will be more fun if you do!

DO …. Always say thank you to the Master at the end of the day. Much more work and organisation is involved in providing a day’s beagling than you imagine.

Geraldine Barker
May 2009