Too Can Hunt Your Jack Russell Terrier (Part I)
your Jack Russell Terrier always digging up your yard looking for moles
and chipmunks? Is it always sniffing the ground and anywhere else that
looks interesting wherever you go? Does it chase squirrels and really
loves the GTG, Trailing and Locating and Super Earth at trials? If these
things are the case, your terrier is exhibiting many signs of wanting
to hunt. You have begun wondering how you could really find out if hunting
would be good for you and your JRT. Where do you start?
are urged to NEVER go out in the field alone to hunt your terriers for
the beginning, you are a novice and need guidance, training and help
of an experienced hunter. There are many JRT owners who hunt their dogs
frequently and sometimes these people welcome company. In fact, the
very first time you go out, it is probably a good idea to leave your
dog(s) at home and just go out with the experienced person(s) and watch
their experienced dogs work to get a feel for what it is all about so
you can really decide if hunting is for you.
A major reason for the “Working Judges” that are listed
toward the front of “True Grit” magazine every month is
to provide names of experienced hunters. Call one of these judges and
set up a date to go hunting with them. The judges have places to go
where you are most likely to find quarry and they know what to do to
encourage your terrier and help it hunt. They also know what to do when
a terrier gets into trouble and this is very important. The judges have
necessary equipment for hunting and they usually have an all-terrain
vehicle that can go off road to the best places for hunting. All “Working
Judges” have participated in a training and evaluation program
before being officially designated as “Working Judges”.
Another reason to avoid hunting alone is that accidents or illnesses
can happen to your or your terriers when you are hunting. If you are
in trouble, you need someone with you to either help or go get help.
need to carry several pieces of equipment when hunting and it helps
to have more than one person to lug this equipment.
You need to be aware of where your dog is at all times. Two or more
sets of eyes can do a better job of keeping track of terriers you have
running around. You do not want a terrier to go-to-earth somewhere and
suddenly realize you have not seen that terrier for a while so you haven’t
a clue where it might be.
you can arrange to hunt with a “Working Judge”, your equipment
needs are minimal because the judge would have the necessary equipment.
However, you do need to bring the following personal items for your
Tough, briar resistant pants to keep your legs and fanny from being
scratched by thorny bushes.
Good, water proof, comfortable, hiking boots. You will be walking a
lot, often through wet areas and nothing is more miserable than blistered
or wet feet. You will also be using a shovel and your footwear must
be able to stomp on the shovel because YOU WILL BE ASKED TO HELP DIG.
You need adequate jacket, long underwear, warm socks, etc. appropriate
for the temperature of the day. A warm hat or sun protecting hat (depending
on the weather) is necessary. You also need a good pair of tough, leather,
Bring a day-pack to carry water for you and your terrier. Bring a lead
for your terrier – hopefully one that can be slipped on and off
the terrier’s head easily. The so called “racing leads”
are great, but NEVER bring a flexi lead as they are more hindrance/hazard
than useful in the woods. Leave your dog’s collar with the licenses,
rabies tags, etc. in you pack. Hopefully, the judge has a first aid
kit but I bring my own anyway. A pair of clean socks and a dry “T”
shirt would be good to have. If you are worried about eating regularly
for health reasons, bring snack bars or an apple or two in your pack
because if you are in the middle of a big dig, you aren’t going
to stop and go somewhere for lunch. A small flashlight is good to have
in case your ‘big dig” extends after dark.
Always bring a few dollars so you can buy lunch and cold drinks for
both the judge and yourself with enough left over to fill the gas tank
of the judge’s vehicle at the end of the day. Oh yes, don’t
forget to bring your camera and some mosquito repellant. Finally, unless
you want to be “charbroiled” after a day in the sun, bring
some Sun Block.
judge or person taking you hunting should have a well equipped hunting
pack and the following digging equipment.
judge’s pack will contain, a Yo-ho (small hand trowel with hopefully
at least an 18” handle), a small folding saw, a flashlight, stakeout
chains for at least two terriers and a “Ferret Finder” box
with several collars containing fresh batteries. The “Ferret Finder”
allows you to pinpoint exactly where and how deep your terrier is located
below the earth. The judge should also have a first aid kit and maybe
a cell phone. The judge will probably have water for both you and your
dogs, and some of the same things you have in your own pack.
The judge will probably have both a long handled and a short handled
spade, bar with a point on one end and chisel on the other end, post-hole
digger and maybe a snare to use to snare the quarry. The first four
items are usually available at any good hardware store although you
may need to have someone cut off an end of the bar that might have a
tamping foot and grind that end into a point. The snare can usually
be purchased through a quality, hunting equipment catalog or store.
The judge’s vehicle should be equipped with crates – one
for each terrier you have. If the weather is hot, crate fans would be
good to have. If you are not riding with a judge in his vehicle and
your own vehicle is not a 4-wheel drive or is low slung, then beware
because I once almost ripped the gas tank off my Chevy Venture trying
to use it like an off-road vehicle.
Important things to remember:
judge or person you are hunting with is giving up a day of their time
to take you hunting.
The judge is probably driving their vehicle so fill that vehicle’s
gas tank after the day is over.
For most hunting, you will drive to the judge’s location and you
may have to spend one or two nights there. Do not expect the judge to
be your hotel.
Buy the judge’s lunch and sodas/beers and maybe offer to take
the judge and their spouse out to dinner in the evenings.
You might consider a small gift for the judge as thanks for taking you
you are ready to go on your first hunt. In the next installment, we
will discuss more about the actual hunting and what you can expect.
Too Can Hunt Your Jack Russell Terrier (Part II)
Bob Franklin, CT
read Part I of this article, you have all of your gear ready and you
found someone to take you out hunting. Now what can you expect?
you and your terrier(s) should be in reasonable physical condition when
you consider going hunting. If you poop out, your day of hunting is
done. You may well walk several miles during the day and your terrier(s)
will undoubtedly go several times as far. Of course, the judge will
always have some of his terriers too so if your terrier poops out, you
will be hunting with his terriers. In fact, it is not a bad idea to
start the day using one of the judge’s terriers so both you and
your terrier can learn from watching an experienced terrier at work.
If a quarry is found, then it might be possible to set up a situation
where your terrier can confront the quarry in a controlled manner to
learn a little bit about what it is all about and to become familiar
with the scent of the quarry. The idea is to avoid getting the novice
terrier into a bad situation and thus ruin his/her attitude toward hunting.
They have to learn just the same as you do.
a JRT consists of following the terriers along fence lines, out in hay
fields or other likely places that might have woodchuck or other dens.
The terriers should go into the brush thickets and look for likely places.
If your terrier just follows along behind you, then you will need to
encourage the terrier to poke its head into likely holes and take a
few sniffs. Experienced terriers will usually enter most holes far enough
to really determine if there is someone home. Some will back out of
the hole and go on and others will traverse through the entire den before
emerging – sometimes out a different exit. When an experienced
terrier encounters “something”, it will really open up and
start barking, yelping, whining, etc.. Then you wait awhile to see if
the terrier can drive the quarry out another entrance, pull the quarry
out of the hole or whether you will have to dig to the terrier and quarry.
The judge should be able to determine the best course of action after
observing and listening for a little while.
hunting, you are encouraged to never have more than two terriers out
at a time unless you or your companions know their terriers very well
and the terriers do not range far ahead or behind. Always put a “Ferret
Finder” collar on each dog you have out hunting. While digging
to reach a terrier that has gone-to-earth, stake the other terriers
somewhere nearby but where they will not be in the way or wander off
and go down another hole. Hopefully, your judge will have chain, stakeouts
so the terriers cannot chew through the stakeout. When digging, use
the “Ferret Finder” box to know where the terrier is located
so you can be absolutely certain you do not hit the terrier with your
shovel or crow bar. The judge will show you how to operate the “Ferret
Finder” box and will closely supervise the use of the shovels
and the bar to avoid any possibility of injuring a dog in the earth.
After a dig, you must fill all holes you made during the dig, but be
absolutely certain all terriers are accounted for and probably staked
out so you don’t inadvertently bury one that slips back into a
you get really lucky and your terrier earns a “Natural Hunting
Certificate” (NHC), you can be very proud of both your terrier
and yourself. Some days you won’t even find quarry and your day
simply turns out to merely be a nice hike in the outdoors. Even though
your terrier does find a quarry, it might not earn a NHC. Since this
is probably the first time your terrier has hunted, it may not perform
up to the standards necessary to earn a NHC. So, don’t be disappointed
if you and your terrier(s) go out several times without success.
“Natural Hunting Certificate Below Ground” (NHC) can be
earned by terriers that use their scenting abilities to locate likely
dens or “sets” and crawl into or “enter” a set.
The terrier must go completely out of sight below the ground, confront
the quarry by barking, growling or whining and “bay” the
quarry by keeping it in one location through constant harassment toward
the quarry until terrier and quarry can be dug to by the handlers so
the quarry can be identified. Also, the terrier may “draw”
(drag) the quarry out of its den or alternatively the terrier may “bolt”
(drive) the quarry out of another entrance of the set. The terrier must
perform to the satisfaction of the Working Judge and the quarry must
be deemed sufficiently aggressive toward the terrier or the judge will
not issue a Certificate. Examples might be very young quarry or some
judges feel many opossums are not sufficiently aggressive toward the
terrier and merely faint or “play possum”.
you have hunted a few times, you will soon realize why there are so
few terriers being shown in the Working Terrier Classes at JRTCA sanctioned
trials and you will have great admiration for those terriers that have
earned a NHC and are Working Terriers. Acceptable quarry for earning
a NHC are red fox, gray fox, raccoon, woodchuck, opossum and badger.
seasoned owners prefer to hunt two terriers at a time to better confine
the quarry to one location in its “set” by possibly coming
at the quarry from two directions. However, only one terrier may be
entered into the earth at a time when they are being judged for a NHC.
This rule insures that it was that particular terrier which did the
hunting and not a terrier following the lead of another terrier that
is in the earth at the same time. Some judges want the terrier to have
combated a “formidable” quarry and in order to earn a NHC.
Interpretations of this objective and what the terrier does can vary
from judge to judge.
Before you decide to hunt your terrier, you first need to consider several
you run your JRT off lead in the local park or in a wooded area and
call it back to you or does he/she seem to always disappear over the
horizon? You should have reasonable control of your dog before you decide
to take it out hunting. Start with your terriers as puppies and get
good recall on them or you will spend your day in the field looking
for your terriers rather than hunting for quarry.
How will you react if your JRT goes down a small hole in the ground
and disappears completely from sight for maybe hours at a time?
How would you feel if your terrier confronts an aggressive quarry and
gets bitten or otherwise injured – sometimes seriously?
Can you watch your terrier kill a quarry or watch the judge kill the
quarry because the land owner wants the quarry eliminated?
If your terrier is sprayed by a skunk while in a hole in the ground
and dies, can you cope with that? Most “Working Judges”
can recognize signs and smell of skunk, but those damn skunks have no
rules and can show up in some of the most unlikely places. In some areas
of the country, it is possible for dogs to encounter a porcupine and
get quilled, but this doesn’t happen very often. Poisonous snakes
can be a problem in some parts of the USA.
Are you physically able to walk in the fields or woods for several hours
carrying a shovel and a crowbar, dig holes in the ground while moving
rocks, and cutting roots and maybe carry your injured or totally exhausted
terrier a mile or so back to your vehicle?
Can you handle having a good case of Poison Ivy the week after your
hunt with your terrier? Terriers can carry the oil from Poison Ivy for
a week or so after the hunt on the hair on their underbody and you or
someone else in your family can even get Poison Ivy on the inside of
your forearm simply by scooping up an oil covered terrier with one arm.
I have been hunting my terriers for about 20 years and have never lost
a terrier nor have I had any seriously injured terriers (knock on wood).
I often get Poison Ivy big time so I always wear a long sleeved shirt
no matter the temperature. With my bad knees, I am now limited as to
how much I can walk and/or dig, but I just pick my hunting associates
well. Needless to say, I have had many wonderful experiences hunting
with my terriers over the years. I have had 11 different terriers earn
17 Natural Hunting Certificates and I have hunted with 11 different
judges and numerous other non-judges. I always learn something new from
each of my hunting companions and the comradeships I have developed
with my hunting partners – both human and terrier - are something
your terrier shows signs of wanting to hunt as discussed in the first
of these articles and you think you can give affirmative answers to
most of the above questions, then you should definitely hunt your terrier(s).
I hope you have as much fun as I know your terriers will.