It's all about the dogs.
"I don't even shoot rabbits anymore," said Harry Warnick. "I'm there for the dogs and to work with them."
Warnick has been raising and training beagles, the best-known breed of rabbit dog, since he was 10.
"It's in my blood. When I could, I had beagles. Now I have six beagles, including two young ones that I'm starting this year," he said.
Each beagle is different, Warnick said. A beagler starts training a puppy as soon it begins to walk around and smell the ground.
"I then start to work with them, trailing a bit of old rabbit fur around," he said.
Eventually, the young dog can follow the scent left by the fur.
Then it is trained to track live rabbits and, finally, to work with other dogs.
"They are pack animals," Warnick said.
Warnick likes to share his interest in beagles.
He and fellow beaglers formed a club and met in the Community Center off Wilson Rd. near Rising Sun.
But they had no permanent place to train or hold competitions.
Then Warnick, who is also the president of the Rising Sun Beagle Club, decided to share use of the perfect property, just under 40 acres off Gallagher Rd. that had been developed as a beagle trial course late in the 20th century.
The grounds had been used by the Chesapeake Beagle Club until it folded in the early 1990s, leaving the property vacant for more than a decade. "I took it over in 2002 as a location for myself and my friends," Warnick said of the grounds on the Fair Hill Nature Preserve.
Then, as president of the beagle club, he helped turn the property into the club's training and trial course.
"In 2011, we decided to officially make this the Rising Sun Beagle Club area and to take on new members," Warnick said.
The club has a limit of 20 members and each member can bring an associate member. There are now eight associate members and 17 full members.
In addition to Warnick, the club's officers include vice president Charles Blanford, secretary Joe Weiland, and treasurer Fred Wallace.
Members maintain the area as part of their agreement with the state. They also work to eradicate invasive weeds and keep the trails clear.
"We maintain it year-round and we try to do a project every year," he said. Those projects have included tilling ground for more native plants.
Since the club cannot have a permanent structure on the property, it has a trailer fitted out to serve as an office for field trials. It also puts up a tent so it can serve food.
The Rising Sun club uses the course for several field trials every year.
"We have our first event in April, then another one in May. We also hold a trial the last weekend in August," he said.
"It's a sport and we have rules. In this sport, the dog is your partner," he said.
It's final trial for 2015 was held late last month. That was the club's first American Kennel Club trial. Typically, it hosts events that meet the criteria of its national organization, the United Kennel Clubs.
"We will continue to have one AKC event a year," he said.
In addition to training their beagles and holding trials, club members are working to interest children in raising and training beagles.
"We have a youth program. We're trying to reach out to kids. If they're interested, we will provide a dog they can work with. They can come out with us and we'll show them what to do," he said. "If they like it and get their own dog, we'll let them continue with us.
"If it sticks with one kid, we did a good job."
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