Test Your Beagling Etiquette

You’ve been invited to go “Beagling” by the friend of a friend who knows someone, and you’re super excited. You show up at the right place and time (noon) and before the hunt begins, you’re introduced to the Master. You say:

  1. Hello;
  2. Happy Hunting;
  3. Good morning.

The right answer is “Good morning,” even though it’s noon. The traditional greeting is “Good morning” no matter what time of day it is. Similarly, at the end of the day, it is customary to say “Good night” even though it’s not night time.

The hounds get going, and you follow behind on foot enjoying the sun’s warmth on a crisp fall day. Forty-five minutes into the hunt, a charming little Beagle we’ll call “Jack” straggles behind the pack, notices you, looks around for the other hounds, then heads off in the wrong direction. Suddenly unsure of himself, he turns back around and heads straight for you, tail wagging furiously. Should you:

  1. Try to get Jack going in the right direction;
  2. Ignore Jack and resume walking;
  3. Call Jack over, give him lots of pets, and try to get him back to where everyone started.

The answer is none of the above. We didn’t give it as an option because if you’re new to Beagling, you would never think of the correct options. Beagles are social little friend magnets, and Jack may insist on being your new BFF even if you ignore him. In that case, you should look around for a huntsman’s assistant (called a whipper-in)  and ask them to help redirect Jack. What if you never see one? This is the part that a newbie would really never know. If there aren’t any staff personnel around, you raise your arms outward, and yell “pack in!’” If all else fails, find the Field Master to tell them about Jack.

You’re now an hour and a half into the walk and come to a closed gate that you need to open to keep up. Do you:

  1. Open it, walk through, and leave it open as a courtesy for the next person to come along;
  2. Go through it and close it after yourself;

The correct answer is #2. Those participating in Beagling are guests of the landowner, and gates left open invite problems by either allowing livestock owned by landowner to get out, or those not participating on the hunt to get in. The preference is usually indicated by the landowner, but when in doubt, it is better to close the gate than to leave it open. As long as you’re on the landowner’s property, it’s always advised to stay at the edge of any planted fields and away from gardens. If you see any damage, it’s a courtesy to inform the Field Master immediately.

It is possible to improve a day of Beagling by ending it with a tea.  The tea, typically sponsored by club members,  usually takes place at a nearby residence, and it can range anywhere from a light snack to a more substantial meal. So let’s say you quit the hunt early and walk back to where you know the tea is being held. Do you:
1) Wipe your feet, enter the house, and wait in the hallway;
2) Walk in the front door and ask the hosts if there’s anything you can do to help;
3) Wait for everyone else to show up.
According to Beagling etiquette, tea is held only for those who followed the hunt the day, and only when the hunt is officially over. Bottom line: Don’t enter the home if you weren’t on the hunt and didn’t get a special invite from the host or Master, and if you’re early, wait until the hunt is over and everyone has returned.
Beagling is a terrific way to spend the day, but there are unspoken rules and a few additional tips: Wear lots of layers,  waterproof outerwear, and high waterproof boots. Never call the Beagles “dogs.” They are hounds.
 To find a Beagle club near you, check out the American Rabbit Hound Association website, the United Kennel Club’s Beagle website, or the AKC’s Beagle Field Trail website, which can help you connect with Beaglers close to home.
Image: Beagles by Edwin Megargee (1883-1958) 

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