Hare Hunting With Dogs

Written by hugh houchin
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Hare Hunting With Dogs
Hunting hares (hare 1 image by new kid from Fotolia.com)

Hares are often confused with rabbits. They belong to the same family of Leporidae but different genera, so they cannot interbreed. The hare is larger and more wiry, with larger back legs and feet. Its large ears stick straight up on his head. The animals known as "jackrabbits" are actually hares. A hare breeds twice a year and gives birth to its young under bushes or in grass or weeds. Rabbits breed once a month and make their homes underground or in the side of a bank that’s dry. Nevertheless, dogs have been used to hunt both hares and rabbits in the fall and winter for hundreds of years.

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Hare Hunters

Both the beagle and the harrier have been bred to hunt hares. Larger dogs were used to hunt deer, while, with their slower running speed, beagles and harriers were used for hares, as the hunters could follow on foot. The beagle and harrier are referred to as "scent hounds" because they follow the hare by its scent.

Beagles

The beagle is a small but sturdy hound, with enough stamina to hunt all day. Beagles can be trained to track the hare, while the hunter trails behind on foot. Beagles are short-haired, which means less coat maintenance to concern its owner. A beagle is an independent dog and does tend to wander away; therefore, it’s best to keep them on a leash when they’re not hunting or in their pen. You can hunt with a single beagle or a pack of them. They are child-friendly and make good pets.

Hare Hunting With Dogs
Beagles are sturdy dogs and can hunt all day long. (Beagle image by Buffy1982 from Fotolia.com)

Harriers

Harriers are friendly and make good pets, similar to beagles, but they're larger. When raised in a pack, they adapt readily and work with the other dogs in the pack. They can hunt all day, stay focused on the chase, are independent and can have a stubborn streak. They are short-haired and are low-maintenance dogs. Due to their stubbornness, it’s recommended to train them when they’re young, so they learn who is boss..

The Hunt

Hunting can be done with one dog but most people hunt with a pack. The hunt begins when the dogs flush a hare and the hare runs with the dogs in pursuit, while the hunters follow behind. Hares don’t run in a straight line but run in a weave pattern. They outrun the pack and, when the feel they have led the pack far from their nesting area, they turn around and weave back through the pack and head for home. When the pack realises the hare has doubled back, they turn around and renew the chase. When the hunters hear the pack's baying getting closer, it’s the signal to find a spot where they're not visible. When the hare heads their way, the hunters will have an open shot. If not, a hunter can yell or blow a whistle; the hare will hesitate and that's when the hunters will have an open shot.

Hare Hunting With Dogs
The hunt begins when the hare is flushed from its hiding spot, (hunting image by Catabu from Fotolia.com)

Summary

A 12-gauge shotgun is the weapon of choice for hunting hares but any gauge will work if the hunter has the skill. In the United States, only non-toxic shot is allowed in the shells. Hunters should always be aware of hunting season dates if they travel to an area they're not familiar with and always ask land owners for permission to hunt on their property.

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