Some barked and wagged their tails, begging for attention. Others stretched on the soft grass and soaked up the intermittent rays of sunlight that broke through the clouds. All the beagles seemed blissfully unaware that a local club dedicated and entire day just for them.
The CSRA Gun Dog Beagle Club held its fourth annual Barbecue and Trade Day at the Winfield Community Center on Saturday as a fund-raiser for club activities.
The hunting club sold more than 400 barbecue plates at $5 each and allowed vendors to sell everything from dog cages to ears of corn off the back of pickup trucks.
"For all of our members, hunting with beagles is more than a hobby or a sport," said Jason Norman, 19, a Grovetown resident and a sophomore at the University of Georgia studying wildlife biology. "It's really a way of life. It takes a lot of time and effort to take care of and train the dogs."
Other activities at the event included a Kids' Puppy Bench Show (in essence a beagle beauty contest for owners under age 12), prize drawings, an auction, selling beagle puppies and adults, and selling rabbits and related supplies.
Grovetown resident Jason Norman, 19, stands his dog Sadie on his tailgate before the children's beagle judging took place at the CSRA Gun Dog Beagle Club meet.
Photo by Trevor Frey
"Beagles have been breed since the Middle Ages for rabbit hunting," said Beagle Club Board Member Chuck Terry, a math teacher at Jefferson Davis High School. "This organization was founded in the late '80s as a means for rabbit hunters to socialize and hold field trials."
Field trials are beagle hunting contests. Six dogs at a time form a cast that is then released into a field with judges and rabbits to determine which dog shows the most discipline, reacts first to the rabbit, and proves to be the most capable hunter. The dogs with the most points move to the next round until an overall winner is decided.
No field trials were held at the barbecue because the it was too hot for the dogs, and rabbits are out of season. Club members said field trials will be held in the fall.
Although training methods vary and can be strict, club members swear none of the dogs are harmed, and most are treated like family pets.
"I have nine beagles and my family plays with them all the time," said Kenny Shaw, who drove four hours from Roanoke, Ala., with his 11-year-old son, Justin, to attend the club's barbecue. "I love all of my dogs like members of the family."
Norman said a good measuring stick to prove how well the dogs are cared for is the amount of money owners spend in taking care of their beagles.
"To properly care for the dogs takes at least $250 a year in veterinary fees per dog, and that's not including feed, pens and other items," Norman said. "There are some guys that have as many as 40 dogs. You have to really care for them to want to put that much time and money into them."
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