Hunting Beagle enthusiasts returned to Cochocton, Ohio, in April for the fourth year to compete in and attend the United Kennel Club Hunting Beagle Nationals. Little did they know they’d be witnesses to a little bit of history too.
At the end of three days of hunting in the area of the friendly town of 12,000, two females stepped forward to receive the National Grand Hunting Beagle Champion trophy for the first time: Hunting Beagle GCh. Hurry Up Lucille, owned by Vicky Bassitt of Millersburg, Ohio. Under her son Brad’s handling, Lucille tallied up a score of 632.5+ to earn the coveted title. It’s the first time a dog, owned solely by a woman, has won the event in its 22-year history.
Scores are a tally of points awarded for identifying a rabbit, for the dog’s speed and drive, and for its losses and recoveries. The plus sign after the score means the dog earned extra points for particular action during the hunt.
In addition, Angela Baker of Dixon, Mo., and GCh. ‘PR’ Top Notch Pop A Top came out on top during the Hunting Beagle National Bench Show which judges the dogs’ conformation to the UKC breed standard. Only 23 dogs entered the bench show this year, which is “not enough,” says Allen Gingerich, UKC’s senior director of hunting events. Forty dogs entered in 2012. Gingerich says he can’t “lay his finger”on why there weren’t more bench show entries, except that “it just seems like people are more into the hunting.” To enter the bench show, a dog must complete the allotted cast time in the Registered, Champion or Grand Champion hunt, or have 50 previous championship field points.
On the morning of Friday, April 12, about 100 Beagles headed out with their handlers in the Registered class, which is for dogs that haven’t yet earned their titles as hunting Beagle champions. The dogs hunt rabbit in casts of four, led to their cast’s hunt site on private or state-owned land by a volunteer guide. “The Cochocton County Beagle Club did a fantastic job with guide support,” Gingerich says. “They had it covered very well.” Because it was raining early that morning, many hunters opted to hunt in the afternoon, he says. “As soon as we called them out, it quit raining.” Quite a few hunters commented: “I knew I should have taken my dog out in the morning.” In 2012, 100 dogs went out in the morning, but only 60 in the afternoon for the Registered hunt.
All UKC hunting events involve scenting an animal, then “managing” it in one way or another. In the case of Beagles, a rabbit is “brought around” to where the dog’s handler is. No animals are shot by hunters or caught by the dogs.
Saturday dawned clear for the 107 dogs that went out in the Champions class in the morning. That afternoon, it was time for 61 dogs to strut their hunting stuff in the Grand Champions class.
On Sunday morning, the top 16 Registered dogs faced off. The Top 10 winning scores were 320+ for Deckers Roxie, owned by Roger Decker of Burr Oak, Mich., and handled by David Mumby; 320+ (also) for Halfways Annie’s Little Sissy, owned by John E. Brown of Warren, Ind., and handled by Joe Brown; 220+ for Butcher’s White River Abigail, owned by Jason and Loarie Butcher of Charleston, W.V., and handled by Jason; a scratched score for Brushy Ridge Blue Shadow, owned and handled by Roger E. Cook of Crawley, W.V.; 367.5+ for Mo Primetime Hurry Up Tebow, owned by Levi McDaris of Macomb, Mo., and handled by Jeff Ward; 230+ for Wright’s Bell, owned and handled by Steve Wright of Newark, Ohio; -120 for ‘PR’ Scotty’s Jessie, owned and handled by Jerry Scott of Malta, Ohio; -170 for Young’s Rambling Crazy Daisy, owned by Ryan and Lori Young of Thornville, Ohio, and handled by Ryan; 332.5+ for Hurry Up Spanked For Kash, owned and handled by Kelly Hanners-Smart of Coshocton; and 190+ for Bens Blue Ribbon Dandy, owned and handled by Ben Cox Jr. of Newark, Ohio.
The top 16 Hunting Beagle Champions from Saturday also hit the field on Sunday. The winner of the champion class was HBCh. Dry Fork Ears, owned by Mike and Jason Ridenhour of Belle, Mo., with Mike handling for a score of 155+. Placing second was HBCh. Meades Outback Chopper, owned and handled by Brian Meade of Warsaw, Ohio, with a score of 107.5+. In third was HBCh. Worrells Fast As Candie Mandy, owned by Mark E. and Barbara Worrell of Quarryville, Pa., handled by Mark to an 80+. Coming in fourth was Ch. HBCh. Norfork Party Time At Six, owned and handled by Calvin Mings of Dora, Mo, with 12.5+.
If the champion scores seem low, Gingerich says, they have “a lot to do with the area they hunted, likely just not as abundant with rabbits. It doesn’t take anything away from the caliber of dogs. You could take the best dog in the world, put him where there aren’t many rabbits and he would have a low score also.”
After the Sunday hunt by the Top 16 dogs in the Grand Hunting Beagle Champion class, Bassitt and Lucille were in the top spot. The No. 2 dog was HBGCh. Squeakin Thru James, owned by Eric Ballanger of Melrose, Iowa, with a score of 437.5+. In third was NiteHBGCh. HBGCh. Ch. Dagostine’s Big Brutis Bawls, owned by Owen Dagostine of Williamstown, W.V., with 412.5+, and in fourth was HBGCh. Ingram’s Stylish Dakota, owned by Tom Ingram, also of Williamstown, with 357.5+.
The venue for confirming entries, measuring of the hounds – no dog can be more than 15 inches tall at the withers – and receiving cast assignments for the Nationals is at the Coshocton County Fairgrounds. Gingerich says the event will be in Cochocton at least two more years and “I hope for the next 10 years after that. They’re one of the few clubs in the country that can handle an event like that.”
Gingerich added that the entry was up by about 60 dogs this year. “We’re very pleased with that,” he says. “It’s a very good atmosphere out there in the Beagle world right now, so that’s a good thing.”