Hunting Quail with a Beagle

aeverett152

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Oct 5, 2019
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Hope everyone is staying healthy and safe out there,

I have been deer and elk hunting the last 6 years or so. In the off season I will take my beagle out with me to scout and set trail cams just to get him outside. I never had the intention to use him as a hunting dog until recently. As a typical beagle he is very keen on picking up a scent and searching it out ever since he was a puppy. The last few times I’ve been out in the mountains with him I have heard quail in nearby brush and I have been taking him near the sound, letting him sniff around, go into brush and flush quail out. And that’s when the lightbulb came on. I have never hunted with a dog and never quail hunted either but this feels like a perfect scenario to start. Since we are pretty much on lockdown I have ordered a canvas bumper and quail scent so I can start working with him specifically for scenting quail. I do have a series of questions for hunters that upland game hunt and use dogs (I apologize if these are stupid questions btw but this is ALL new to me).

Besides a bumper and a scent is there any other specific training regimen I should follow with my dog?

12 gauge or 20 gauge shotgun? I have read that 12 is overkill for quail but I would like to clarify with you all.

Is there a specific shotgun that has a low decibal output? I have read articles about some dogs becoming deaf.

I know Beagles aren’t typical bird dogs but anyone else have success using Beagles for upland birds?

I plan on starting off with quail and if it becomes successful I might try for pheasant but I will cross that path when we get there. And if you are wondering my Beagle is almost 4 years of age and not from a specific bloodline. But one thing I am sure of is that this dog is definitely picking up scents and pursuing them.

Thank you all very much
 

Catahoula

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Go for it. All my years in Arizona I hunted quail. 2004 I started training my 3rd Catahoula for quail hunting. She was the sister to the one in my avatar. Anyway, it took some effort for a while but she turned out to be great at quail hunting. Always hand fun together. Good luck!
 

gadrahthaar

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Atlanta, GA
I've never heard of this exact method but there is no reason it can't work. I personally enjoy the process of hunting them with a dog that points, but there are plenty of people that hunt with just flushing dogs. I will spit out my thoughts below, but please please keep in mind that I am just spitballing for you - what you are really looking for is a pro trainers advice on training a flushing/retrieving dog to hunt quail.

Where are you, what kind of quail?

First for the gun - you don't need anything specific. If shotguns are new to you, go to a skeet range that will let you try out automatics, pumps, side by sides, over unders. I shoot over unders best and like the feel of pumps - but its pure preference. 12 is a lot for quail but that and the sound issue are better solved with the ammo you choose. Small shot 8 and 9 will make a bigger difference than gauge. If you think you might want the gun for other game turkey, deer, pigs, waterfowl, etc then there are some things to think about but anything you find second hand that is less that 50% rust will kill quail. And no gun design is less quiet, but some ammo is - however i don't personally thing you have to worry about that - most beagles and other gun dogs come from lines where hundreds of thousands of shots have passed over them without worry. You should however think about how to introduce the dog to gunshots - has he been around them before? if no, be careful in starting that.

Assuming you are talking about a type of quail that holds rather than runs (like bobwhite), i think you are just hoping that you dogs searches vigorously for scent while staying within your shotgun range (and then retrieves but we'll get to that). If the dog naturally likes to hunt with his nose thats great - what you need to be able to add are commands to tell him no you can't chase that deer, and quite separately "good job chasing those quail tracks but please stay closer to me while you do it". And I'm not sure how you get to that second one.

Retrieving is a separate item. If he naturally brings them back to you without chewing on them, what great luck, but he may not. There are a lot of great retrieving methods out there with a variety of complexity and force, but you need to pick one based on where he is now and where you want to get him. Mine will pick up dumbells or raw eggs- but we work hard on it.
 

mattwill00

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Apr 22, 2019
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I have hunted quail, pheasants and dusky’s with my beagle since he was a pup. He’s 10 now. Still out hunts my buddy’s lab 5 fold. There’s really something special about a beagles nose.

The only real trouble is he is strictly a flushing dog but he’s easy to read. Every beagle will be different but there’s a lot of indicators to pick up on. Tail movement, yips and bays, or just general excitement. If the pheasants are runners you just learn to walk at a brisk pace to stay with him while he’s on them. I’ve had him hit fields that have been pounded with pointers and he’ll pick up on the birds trails and run them down to the edges till they flush. It’s really something to watch. And you want to talk about losing wounded birds? As soon as those birds hit the ground and take off running that’s his favorite part. He will run them down till they die of exhaustion. It’s really something to watch. Just know they have a very limited retrieval ability.

I know they are not typical upland birds and some people scoff at them. In reality I probably won’t get another beagle again. But the ability to crossover from rabbits to upland is truly an awesome trait given that rabbit season are usually pretty long.

I know this doesn’t answer all of your questions and is more along the lines of reminiscing about my aging hunting partner, but I just want to give you some hope that it can be done and they can be a great companion in the field as well as at home. I know I’ve only got a couple more seasons with mine if I’m lucky but man it’s been a lot of fun with that dog. And I don’t think bloodlines really matter for beagles - mine was $45 out of a trailer park in southern Ohio. It’s ingrained in their dna to chase game.

Good luck! I have no doubts that you can turn him/her into a good little hunting buddy.
DCA5A2A9-D693-4B48-9521-D46A41E8F227.jpeg
 

Okhotnik

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Hunting with a beagle is fine

Have you shot over your dog yet?

Id worry about getting him used to loud noises first. Slow transition to gun fire
 
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aeverett152

aeverett152

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@gadrahthaar I am from southern california Riv Co area. Not sure the exact species of quail but I have seen them in the local mountains. I have not shot around him before. I have read some articles on getting him exposed to gun fire. I guess the best thing is to associate a gunshot as a rewarding thing. We have commands he knows at home but I have also started working with him when we are just on trails and recently when he has flushed quail out he has waited for me to tell him "go get it" before he goes in and flushes them out. But obviously there is more training to be had. The odd thing is is that he has seen deer but is never interested in them. Not sure if it because they are bigger than him but he does seem to seek out critters that are smaller than him. I am expecting him to not retrieve like @mattwill00 stated. The plan is to flush em out and bang bang. I do like the fact that his nose will find them to once they are down. I definitely need to figure out which kind of shotgun to choose as well since I am a bowhunter. I have shot skeet at raahagues before but again more shotgun education is needed as well.

Here is a picture of him
 

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Blockcaver

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A cap gun can be used to start with as a noise maker. The dollar store had them locally and we bought a coupole when our dog was a pup. Whenever we were hiking and she got into chukars and pointed a chukar point my wife and I'd walk in, flush the chukars and shoot the cap guns and praise the heck out of her (Vizsla.) When season rolled around I made sure the first birds were shot a bit away from her, without the muzzle blast right in line with her...first bird was a hard left chukar well away from her. She loved hunting and now is excited when the gun safe opens and a shotgun comes out. A dog makes bird hunting 10X more fun for me. Good luck with the beagle
 

gadrahthaar

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Atlanta, GA
@gadrahthaar I am from southern california Riv Co area. Not sure the exact species of quail but I have seen them in the local mountains. I have not shot around him before. I have read some articles on getting him exposed to gun fire. I guess the best thing is to associate a gunshot as a rewarding thing. We have commands he knows at home but I have also started working with him when we are just on trails and recently when he has flushed quail out he has waited for me to tell him "go get it" before he goes in and flushes them out. But obviously there is more training to be had. The odd thing is is that he has seen deer but is never interested in them. Not sure if it because they are bigger than him but he does seem to seek out critters that are smaller than him. I am expecting him to not retrieve like @mattwill00 stated. The plan is to flush em out and bang bang. I do like the fact that his nose will find them to once they are down. I definitely need to figure out which kind of shotgun to choose as well since I am a bowhunter. I have shot skeet at raahagues before but again more shotgun education is needed as well.

Here is a picture of him
Very cool. Here is a resource from the state thats long but well done. https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=23230&inline

You are correct about chaining gunshots to positive for him. I usually start my mine far away from a cap gun or 22 and do something with them that they enjoy (but on a leash, to prevent running away). This can be playing fetch on a long leash, getting a mess of treats, etc. Then slowly move closer. You can associate the bird with the bang later, for now you just want to make sure he isn't going to run back to the truck.
 

Jim1187

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New Brunswick, Canada
Introducing a dog to gunfire is best done slowly and if you can get someone to help all the better. I won't go into great detail but cap gun, .22 and then shotgun is my preferred progression working your way in while playing and praising the dog as you get closer until you can stand next to the shooter. If the dog shows fear the lesson is over and you restart another day.

I have no experience getting a beagle to retrieve but I have hunted with a beagle that had a different bay for feathers and would tree ruffed grouse he lost interest in everything after the shot. Pick a training program for flushing dogs and follow it, there are lots, all approach things slightly different but all will work if you follow it. Maybe see if there is a Basset hound training group near you, some of its members may have experience teaching a hound to pursue and retrieve birds.

My understanding is that California has banned lead shot at least on state lands, this means a shotgun with choke tubes is what you should be looking for. If you are only pursuing upland birds a 20 gauge is all you need and would even get you by for a lot waterfowling and turkey hunting opportunities all while typically weigh less than a 12 gauge which can really benefit pursuing upland birds in rough terrain. Quality pumps are always what I am first inclined to recommend newcomers to wingshooting but there are lots of good Semi-auto options for comparable prices. I don't know if suppressors are legal in your state but you can get them for a shotgun, they drastically change the handling qualities. As a general rule slower muzzle velocities and a lighter shot charge should reduce muzzle blast.

It is worth trying at the very least. If he won't hunt he can still continue his current role of fury buddy.
 

mgray

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Spring Green, WI
When I was a kid we had a beagle that was better at finding and flushing pheasants than rabbits. She would start with a whimper, then as she got closer it turned into a whine, then she would let loose. You had to be close to her when she started to howl, because you knew the bird was close and would probably flush soon. It wasn't the typical way to find pheasants, but it was a lot of fun.
 
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aeverett152

aeverett152

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Thank you all for your insights. Thoughts on rattlesnake vaccinations? I talked to my vet and they recommend it.
 

Johnbaldwin86

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Any update?

I have a hunting buddy that brings his old beagle along upland hunting. I don't think a beagle stands a chance on wild pheasants, but I can confirm quail in thick cover and release site pheasants can be hunted over a beagle. Just race him to the downed bird, as they tend to chew them up (or actually eat the bird)

Another guy I hunt with has a pair of beagles for rabbits. If your beagle 'hunts slow' you might be able to him on his own for rabbits, typically you run a pack. It's really cool watching a beagle do the job he was bred to do. My shorthair will run rabbits, but at nowhere near the level of a beagle
 
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aeverett152

aeverett152

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I havent been able to get any hunting in this year unfortunately. Life has been crazy unfortunately. As soon as things settle down for me I still plan on getting him out and doing some training. I would love to get him around other beagles that hunt. I am sure he qould pick up some things from them.
 
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aeverett152

aeverett152

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A long but necessary update. Quail season is around the corner. I have been getting this dog out and working on commands and flushing. So far he seems ready. The only thing I have not done is fired a shotgun around him. I have been shooting a cap gun every time he flushes something out of the brush and rewarding him for that so he at least learns that a loud bang is a positive thing. I have fired the caps literally feet from him and he is unphased by it. I dont plan on hunting quail until we get some good rains here in socal so I still have some time to introduce him to the shotgun. So far some good progress and hopeful to get this dog on some birds this fall.

20210928_102842.jpg 20210928_103305.jpg 20210928_105022.jpg
 
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FalFreak

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Great thread! Any tips for trying to keep your beagle in close/coming when called the first time?
 
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aeverett152

aeverett152

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A combination of using a reward system (treats), training collar, and basic commands
 

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