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Two Couple Pack

by Tim Day


          I am here to put in a good plug for Two Couple Pack competitions. Briefly, Two Couple Pack (TCP) is a format currently used by the United Beagle Gundog Federation (UBGF) where four hounds are ran together at a time. The pack can receive varying amounts of time to run, often 15 minutes (from the rabbit jump). Once a rabbit is up and the pack is going, they are judged on how they work together as a team and how little “down time” they have. Down time is simply checks or losses. The ideal pack is well matched with individuals that compliment one another. Judging a good TCP allows one to see a team approach to the pack. A good TCP would proceed smoothly (pace is not a concern) with few checks and constant honest mouth. A good judge would reward the pack that exhibits good teamwork with every individual contributing positively to the run.
            In my opinion, to do well in TCP requires one to lose the individual dog mentality. In other words, TCP is not judged as an individual dog competition. The goal is not to determine who has the best individual dog, or which is the best within the pack. The goal is to watch the pack as a whole, and decide who brought the best PACK on the particular day. Now, this does not preclude great individuals from being able to compete, quite the contrary, as with any competition the better the better! When one makes a well-oiled pack he or she searches diligently for the right blending of skills. Within the pack, some will be more skilled than others. The goal is to use individuals in the team whose weaknesses are offset by the others strengths. Not an easy task!
         All hounds need to contribute in some manner to the run… point is however, lose the “have to be on the front” outlook. Many hounds work well “within” the pack. As a matter of fact, in this competition the 1st and 4th place hounds get scrutinized pretty hard! Also, just because a hound is a Field Champion doesn’t mean a pack of individual field champions will better than your pack… I know this because we have won trials where guys used individual field champions in their packs!
        TCP is great from a competitors standpoint as well. I think you increase your variables for success. I mean lets face it, you control the bracemates. This is a tremendous help right there. If they don’t mesh, it is your fault. Now, you still combat some of the same variables you would see at any trial. I have had it all, bad draws, such as running last on a hot day rather than in the early morning dew. The gallery standing on the line or in the way, etc… those things are field trialing… Are these hounds still hunting dogs? Ours are, that’s for sure! One nice thing about these trials is that the atmosphere is usually very friendly.
       E & B’s, Eurekas, and Bring ‘em Back Beagles have been all over within an without the states bordering Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky. We have been fortunate enough to win some trials with some fine hounds entered. We have had a decent spring thus far, running in 2 trials at Clay County, IN. and in a UBGF qualifier with a first and a 3rd respectively. Heck, last trial we carried some spud eating Mill Creek hounds, right Chris? Ha!
        Actually, the ability to make packs with friends is another great plus! I have really enjoyed this avenue of competition and have learned a lot about making a good pack in the process! I think all Beaglers ought to be required to do a year worth of TCP trialing. What would happen? Well, pretty quick you’d see the loss of front banging hounds, plus you’d see less of faulty hounds. Why? Because TCP does a great job of exemplifying hounds weaknesses and shows in a hurry what faulty hounds will do to a run.
        Understand a couple of things:  (1) Making great packs isn’t easy! Making 4 dogs fit and fit well, then maintaining this dynamics of the pack over time is not easy! It takes work, time, and money! The hardest hound to find is the fourth dog; the easiest is the first. Hounds tend to change a bit over time especially if they are young. It is a challenge to create a great pack. (2) This is a team concept. Look at the overall pack not the individual best hound. One great and three me-tooers won’t work. As long as we keep the main focus on good solid hound work, it will remain the great sport it is.

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