In no particular order, here is some advice, particularly to a young person interested in being a breeder:
1. Decide what you want and persist until you get it.
2. Don’t discard hound after hound. None of them are perfect, but start with the best you can buy and try to improve. Frank Reese said “you have to work with the hounds you have”, and I think that is true within reason.
3. Get out and visit some kennels and watch them hunt on their home turf with their kennel mates. Spare no time or expense as you build your line.
4. Breed for more than just a trial dog. Keep in mind the beagle is to be a hunting dog first.
5. Read everything you can, including reading about other types of hounds and dogs, since you can learn anywhere from anyone.
6. Study your pedigrees and try to find out about the hounds in them.
7. Watch the people you deal with. Deal with those you can trust regarding pedigrees, etc.
8. Stay in school and get an education in a field that will allow you to live in an area good for hunting, such as a rural area. It’s harder to hunt if you must live in a large city to find work. Healthcare is a good choice.
9. Don’t force yourself to run hounds every day. So many do this, and I think you can get too much of a good thing and become burned out. It’s better to run them a few times each week so you are always looking forward to the next outing. It’s fun, not work.
10. Get your first hounds from someone who has raised a family of hounds, and then stick with that family at least for the first few crosses. If you jump about in your breeding choices, it will be harder to have consistent results.
11. When making your start in beagles, concentrate mostly on females. Later, after you build your line, you can add males. You need the females at first to continue on. Males are a dead end, so to speak.
12. Join an organization or two that is protecting our hunting rights. I would suggest the NRA and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance.
13. If you can afford it, consider buying property where you can run hounds on your own land.
14. Watch your hounds closely so you can evaluate them. Hunt in the daytime, and get off the tailgate to follow them.
15. If you breed, do it with the intention of making the next generation of your line better than what you currently have. If it does not get better, take a hard look at the cross and decide if you want to breed on or start over by re-breeding the original female.
Photo: Woodpont running at Crown City, Sept 2013.