There are a couple of different types of hunting that are commonly done with this breed or type of dog. You have earth work (which is the traditional job for these terriers), barn hunting, and other above ground hunting.
You also have free casting (more so done here in America) vrs. traditional earth work in which the hunter shows the dogs the earths that may be occupied by vermin. Each of these different kinds of hunting have their own hurdles.
We believe each of them are fun, but even more importantly help keep vermin in check for our farmer friends.
We find digging to the terriers to be the best test for any terrier. But we enjoy the opportunity to hunt with them period. Regardless of what someone may say hunting in any way shape or form tests your dogs ability to some degree.
We have witnessed terriers that were used to the traditional methods of hunting that would not work in a barn or above ground, and we have seen terriers that have been utilized in above ground work that would not consider entering a set.
This kind of hunting seems to be done more frequently in America. With this kind of hunting Terriers are let loose (off leash) to work an area. The Terriers are expected to find any quarry that is on the land. Usually 1-4 Terriers will be used in this kind of hunting. There are collars created to track the terriers when working like this. They are not the same kind of collars that are used for underground work. However it seems most terriers will stay within close proximity to their owners while free casting. It is important to have a very solid recall on you terrier to do this kind of work. This kind of work also requires a dogs to have a better nose then what is needed for traditional work.
We are not the authority on digging to terriers, however we own more than one shovel and several Bellman and Flints. When digging to terriers now days it is common to utilize location collars. This is the same technology that is used to find avalanche victims.
In the old days soft dogs were preferred as the barking helped the hunters locate both the dog and the quarry while underground. Since the use of location collars, hard dogs are being used to very good effect in many situations.
In this form of hunting the real test for the dog is the earth itself. Turns, and drops or inclines can cause issues for some dogs. Certain areas are very difficult to dig thus requiring dogs to stay to ground for longer periods of time.
In america we often require smaller dogs to do traditional earth work for the simple fact that our sets here in America are not as large as the sets in the UK.
Barn hunting is exactly what it sounds like. This hunting is usually requested by a farmer who is having valuable Hay and crops destroyed by vermin.
Barn work requires a lot of work at times. Often the barns are packed full of Hay and you must move bail after bail to reach the quarry and dogs. However barn hunting is one of the ways American hunters get their numbers up when it comes to quarry. You can often times find 4-8 Raccoons in a single barn.
Barn hunting is much faster paced then earth work. Which makes it very exciting.
Some will argue this is not a true test of a terrier, but as someone with an open mind, no bias, and experience in both areas let us be the first to tell you BARN HUNTING CERTAINLY TESTS A TERRIERS ABILITY. It often requires a Terrier to get into very tight places, It also requires a Terrier to have a very solid nose. There are other difficulties that many do not take into consideration when considering barn hunting. Many Terriers that are used to traditional earth work can not succeed at barn hunting. The same is also very true for many terriers that have success with barn hunting.
The bottom line is Barn Hunting is a great way to help our farmer friends out, it is also a good way to test a terriers ability, and lastly it is a fun past time for Terrier and owner.
This work may require the use of location collars as well because your dog still may very well end up in the ground. More often than not this hunting results in working wood piles or rooting systems for quarry. slightly larger dogs tend to do better at this kind of hunting as they tend to me a little more athletic. This larger size also helps them deal with quarry once they make contact.
This kind of hunting certainly has its hurdles but it is not much of a test of a terrier when compared to Earth work or Barn Hunting. None the less it is better then nothing. So hats off to those who are working their terriers in this fashion as well. For those who hate on this kind of hunting consider focusing your hate towards those who are not hunting their dogs at all.
Biggest issue new comers have is trying to find quarry. We see and hear of all sorts of attempts to locate quarry and to help teach new dogs how to do their expected job.
In our opinion first thing you must make sure is that you have terriers that are capable of doing the job. If your terrier has no Hunt Drive, a poor nose or some other fault you will find you spend more time trying to teach you dog then actually hunting with your dog.
The next thing, you need to know is your quarry. Different quarry have different behaviors. As a general rule where you find water and food you will find life.
We've always had success with Raccoon near water in the root system, or in barns during cold weather. Where as Fox really want to be dry, and have an advantage point to their homes. So many will Fox dens will be on the side of a hill in an open area with good lines of sight. Ground hogs will be found in open areas on the edge of the wood line or near a building structure.