Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image Marsh Barton and her dog Ruby search for vermin at the Tremonton Barn Hunt in March. The Desert Rats Barn Hunt Club of Utah will host an event this weekend at Deseret Peak Complex in Grantsville. (Courtesy of Maria Sweeten)

May 10, 2018
Local club hosting regional event for rat hunting dogs

‘Barn Hunt’ is claimed to be a fast-growing dog sport 

A barn hunt does not have anything to do with looking for lost barns, but is a new and fast growing dog sport. 

The Desert Rats Barn Hunt Club will host a barn hunt at Deseret Peak Complex this Friday through Sunday, according to Maria Sweeten, a member of the local Barn Hunt Club.

Barn Hunts don’t happen in barns, but they are based on the traditional role of some breeds of dogs in ridding farms, barns and fields from vermin. Barn Hunts provide an opportunity to test the vermin hunting ability of dogs, according to the national Barn Hunt Association.

Sweeten describes the essence of a barn hunt, for those unfamiliar with this unusual sport.

“Live rats are placed in PVC pipe tubes with air holes in them and hidden in bales of straw,” she  said. “And then the dogs find them.”

The rats are treated humanely and are never in danger, according to Sweeten.

Barn Hunts have titles, levels of increasing difficulty, and championships. The competition is open to all breeds of dogs, according to Sweeten.

Not long ago, Sweeten had never heard of barn hunting, but now she has two dogs involved in the sport.

A friend who was watching Sweeten’s dog for her suggested that Sweeten’s dog would be good at the sport.

Sweeten tried it, and she and her dog liked it.

“I had never heard of it before, but it’s unique enough that it is fun,” Sweeten said. “Some dogs have a natural instinct for this.”

Barn Hunt is the fastest growing dog sport in the U.S. with Barn Hunt titles recognized by both the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club, according to the Barn Hunt Association.

The barn hunt sport was created for the real work of vermin hunting dogs and breeds, but the sport welcomes any and all dogs of any size, breed, or mix who can fit through an 18” wide by bale-height tall tunnel, according to the national Barn Hunt Association.

Sweeten anticipates around 60 dogs with 40 to 50 owners from the Intermountain West to travel to Tooele County to participate in the Desert Rats’ Barn Hunt this weekend.

“The public is invited to watch the Barn Hunt at the Deseret Peak Complex at no cost,” Sweeten said. “Just leave your dog at home please.”

The Barn Hunt begins at 9 a.m. each day and will wind up around 3:30 p.m. Deseret Peak Complex is located at 2930 W. Highway 112, Grantsville.


Tim Gillie

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim covers education, Tooele City government, business, real estate, politics and the state Legislature. He became a journalist after a long career as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America. Tim is a native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University.

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