2012 PKC Rabbit World Champion
There was nothing blue about winning the 2012 PKC Rabbit World Championship for Kenneth Wilburn except the name of the winning dog – Chenoweth’s Fork Blue. Two year old Blue is out of Pleasant Valley Rip and Victory Run Shining Star. This young Beagle has definitely brought great happiness to the Wilburns with this stellar achievement.
Rabbit hunting is a vital part of the Wilburn family. Kenneth actually got Blue from his uncle. “My uncle had the dam and raised Blue on his place.” Kenneth’s father Kenny is also an avid Beagler. In fact, it was his dad who introduced Kenneth to the sport of rabbit hunting. He also helped his son with the training it took to get to this point.
“I have been hunting since I was big enough to handle a gun. I am 40 years now, so it’s probably been about 30 odd years. What I enjoy about it is that when I am out there, it feels like I am in another world -all of my worries go away when I am out running dogs. It is an enjoyment for me. I’d rather run dogs than sleep, eat and work. In fact, we run dogs twice a day. My dad runs them in the morning and I run them in the evening when I get home from work.”
Kenneth drives a truck for Petron Oil. He and his wife Marie have three children: Brian, Mark and Tesa. His family supports him in his dedication though they have waned in their own participation. “They all used to go with me to the field trials, but I burnt them out. When I do something I do it 24/7. Even though they no longer go, my wife is still very supportive. She has never told me, ‘No, you can’t do that.’ I’m very fortunate.”
The reason that Kenneth decided to take Beagle hunting from just a pleasurable activity to a competitive one was based on his curiosity. “I wanted to get into something different and see what kind of Beagles we had compared to everyone else. The best way to do that is through competition. I went from being a gun hunter and killing rabbits to preferring to just run my dogs. I don’t think I’ve killed twenty rabbits in the past five years.”
Kenneth had some knowledge of PKC through his coon hunting years. “I competition coon hunted for a while, but I quickly realized that I couldn’t run Beagles, work and coon hunt. At one point, we coon hunted 93 straight nights. Some days I would come home from work, sleep two hours, coon hunt, take a shower and go back to work. It was killing me and I knew I had to get my Beagles back.”
When Kenneth learned that PKC was now having Beagle events, it peaked his interest. “I have hunted under all the formats. I have tried ARHA and UKC. Our club, Scioto Valley Beagle, started hosting PKC events. It has been three years now since I have competed under PKC. The reason I decided to run PKC was because it is the only one where you get to interact with your dog. It is like you are out there running your dogs off of the tailgate. Everyone is in there together.
When it comes to saying that he is willing to invest hours and hours, Kenneth isn’t exaggerating. “I put anywhere from 40 to 45 hours into our Beagles in three days. We run them into the ground.” That amount of training is also part of the reason why Kenneth has a World Champion in his pack now! However, his dad is another part and that isn’t just because of his help in training, but because of his help with handling also.
“My dad handled Blue in the first and second rounds. I was running my eleven month old female. She got beat in the quarter-finals, but dad said that things for him and Blue went really well in those early rounds.”
After those two rounds, Kenneth took over the handling of Blue in this World Championship. “In the semi-finals, we hunted for an hour. Blue just came out performing.”
In the finals, Blue jumped every rabbit. We had a total of three.”
Those three rabbits brought to the Wilburn men a $2427 cash prize, a Tracker Maximum tracking system with one collar, and a 12 month supply of Purina dog food.” Not a bad pay off for doing something that Kenneth loves to do anyway. However, he knows that this pay off was not because of his efforts alone.
“I have to thank my dad for all his does. My dad is absolutely 100% a houndsman who knows a Beagle. The dogs we have are his and mine – he is with me all the way. He helps me run Blue and the dogs and he handled Blue in the first two rounds. I also have to thank my wife who puts up with it. She has always been there and stood beside me. I want to also thank everyone who helped to put on the 2012 PKC World Beagle Hunt.”
It was a good weekend for Kenneth’s Beagles besides just Blue. His ten month old pup Nitro won the first ever PKC Beagle Pup Derby. This added to their weekend awards another $364 cash prize and three months supply of Purina dog food.
As for the future of Blue? “I hadn’t bred him before, but I have bred him twice since he won the World. I plan to see what kinds of pups he throws. I definitely want to get some good pups out of him. I am sure I will keep on running him and hopefully he keeps going the way he is.” If Blue continues his performance, his future will definitely be rosy! Congratulations on your World Champion title! It is nice to see hard work and effort pay off and do it in a BIG way!
By Amy Thomas