Review of Thoughts on Beagling
My father was raised in rural North Carolina in the 1940's. As a boy hounds were an important part of the environment on the farm. With eight sisters and one brother to feed, small game was a welcome addition to the dinner table. Even though my Dad moved to town after he and my Mom were married, the outdoor sports remained an important part of his life. And, though hunting was sometimes out of necessity, he still loved to hear the music of the hounds echoing across the hills and into the valleys. So from the time I was young, Dad, my brothers and me spent many hours together hunting and fishing. We almost always kept beagles. As the years have passed my love for the Beagle has grown almost into an obsession at times. I have traveled over seven states hunting and competing with my hounds in American Kennel club field trial competitions. So as a long time Beagle enthusiast I was excited to be asked to review this thirty-minute film about the little hounds that I have grown to love.
Mr. Davenport intended to target an audience of rabbit hunters and people who love all aspects of Beagling. While he has created a film that can hold the interest of any such person, I believe that he has accomplished more. I think that it is interesting and enlightening for the person who has little or no understanding of the rich tradition of the Beagle as a breed, and the powerful draw of Beagling as a sport.
The film is centered on three people form vastly different social and economic backgrounds, who all share a similar passion for Beagles. Clayton Bright is a sculptor of sporting art from the Brandywine district of Pennsylvania. Claude Honeycutt is a middle class man who hunts and competes in ARHA field trial competitions from western North Carolina near Asheville. And Roland Baltimore, an elderly contractor from Middleburg, Virginia who mostly enjoys harvesting rabbit for the table.
I believe that Mr. Davenport does an exceptional job of blending the thoughts and ideas of each of his characters together. He skillfully compares the love that they each share for the little hounds, as he weaves between their vastly different experiences and backgrounds. He touches on their philosophies about training, breeding and raising pups. But what was most interesting to me was how he was able to tap into the heart of each of these men. He was able to expose the things that transformed a sport into a passion.
While I believe this short film is very enlightening, I would have liked to have seen it expand further on some of the tradition it alludes to. There is one small scene I personally know is taken from a formal pack event at the National Beagle Club in Aldie, Virginia, but there is no reference to it. I would also have liked to learn more about how each of these men developed their interest, and about the background of the beagle as a hunting hound in the United States.
As our population expands and the city blends into the country it is easy for people to misunderstand some of the rich traditions of the country. This film might not only provide entertainment for the Beagle enthusiast but could also play a small part in keeping the tradition alive for our children and grandchildren.