I need help with my dog, Jack. I adopted him 2 years ago. He was an abused hunting beagle, never inside a home. He has adjusted well and loves me. I am now learning to hunt, but I don't know much about rabbit hunting. I took him out yesterday and he flushed a rabbit out from a pile of snow and wood. The rabbit ran away, but he didn't chase it. I think there were more rabbits there? What am I supposed to do? Stand there and wait? I read that rabbits run in circles. Would that rabbit have come back to where we were? It's just the 2 of us, no other beagles. Also, Jack is afraid of men (still hates my husband after 2 years) and I think he was beaten when he was called. He is afraid to come back to me when I call him and he cowers. I go to him and give him treats. He doesn't run away, but he cowers and pees. It's kind of sad, but I hope that the 2 of us will be happy together hunting rabbits. I just need some help. Thank you.
This is going to take patience on your part, but it sounds like you have been so far. He needs to have his prey drive developed. What was his reaction to the flushed rabbit? Did he bark or chase at all? Did he see the rabbit run? Take him out as often as you can and if you can go with an experienced rabbit hunter would help both of you.
Rabbits tend to run in circles IF pursued, but not always. They learn lots of tricks being on so many predator's menu. If the dog will run them, it's a good idea to stay near where the rabbit was jumped. It won't come back to the exact spot but run in a circular pattern. You can follow the rabbits position by listening to the dog. If he quits barking, he probaly lost the scent for a bit. Give him time to figure it out. Rabbits will jump sideways, re-run their track backwards, stop and listen for the dog, etc. You'll learn with experience. Make sure not to shoot too close to the dog; it might make him gun shy.
Getting him to return to you can be accomplished with a leash and a long rope. Use the leash in a series of short tugs to get him to come to you. Lavish him with encouragement, praise and treats. I tend away from treats, but for some dogs they work. Once responding to the leash, switch to a longer rope or check cord. Do the same thing. We're trying to establish a point of contact if we need to transition to an electronic collar, i.e. shock collar. Let us know your progress. If you have any more questions, PM me.
I am taking him out each day for about an hour. He certainly knows where to go, as the areas he takes me to are filled with rabbit scat and dense brush with LOTS OF THORNS. I will also work with him on a long leash for recall in more favorable terrain. We did find another rabbit yesterday, but again, he did not see it run out and did not chase. The first time he had his head in the brush pile and the rabbit ran out, but Jack never saw him. The second time I startled a rabbit and he wasn't close enough to see. He barks, whines and will stand up on his hind legs when he's close to something, but not continuously. He is enjoying himself and has checked in with me, but I follow him because once is nose is to the ground, he keeps going and is pretty much oblivious to me. We border a state forest that we can hunt in, so we can practice a lot.