by Darrin Glenn :: Featured: August, 2002
Another hunting season is in the books and logged down into the past. As the gunning season is over across the land, it is a time to reflect on the past season and to look forward to the upcoming training and trial season. The `01/`02 rabbit season was a great one for me. I did not harvest a record number of bunnies, nor did I have a 100% shooting record (yeah, I missed a few shots at fleeing rabbits!), but I did have a superb time in the field and the beagles did their job and earned their keep. For me, the enjoyment of being in the field, accompanied by great friends and good hounds is having my cake and eating it too; and the season just passed was exactly that!
The season just passed brought several memorable hunts. One, in particular, being a mid-season hunt I enjoyed with 2 friends, Bill Johnson and Leonard Fisher. Both of these gentlemen are from my area and both keep fine hounds. I enjoy their company in the field immensely. Bill is a close friend, an excellent houndsman, keeps a fine pack of beagles and is a joy to hunt with -- Leonard is like-wise. I arrived at the hunting location just a tad late due to working third watch the night before and Bill and Leonard were already there and their pack of hounds were already in the briars hunting for scent. I unloaded the three beagles I brought and joined the hunt. The scenting conditions must have been excellent this day for the runs we had were great and several rabbits were bagged. However, what made this particular hunt stand out to me was that I witnessed one of the "slickest" rabbits I have ever seen. The hounds jumped this rabbit in a hedgerow just at the crest of a hill and being a "normal" rabbit, it headed down the opposite side of the hill from the side we were on. As we made our way to the crest of the hill and off the opposite side, the pack of 9 beagles pushed the rabbit across some open ground and into a small patch of half-grown Christmas trees. The hounds were keeping steady pressure on the bunny as it left the Christmas trees and went into a very thick, briar-choked hedgerow at the bottom of the field. Bill was standing near where the hounds entered the briars and Leonard and myself worked our way on down the hedgerow hoping to get an opening to sneak a shot of lead toward the rabbit.
As the hounds went in a constant roar of chops, bawls and squeals down through the thicket, I finally saw the rabbit sneaking through the briars. An old log was down in the thicket, and the rabbit stopped, stood on his rear legs and then hopped up onto the log. The rabbit then again stood up on his rear and looked back into the thickets to where the hounds were working his scent trial. It was as if the bunny was studying the movement of the pack and thinking about his best option to lose them! The briars was too thick at that point to take a shot, so I kept still and waited to shoot until he made a move into a more open area. The rabbit then ran a short distance down the log, jumped off, hopped a short distance on down the hedge, then suddenly turned 180 degrees running back up his same tracks then veering hard right. He then stopped, stood up again to assess the situation, and began to head back up the hedgerow on the opposite side where the beagles were working his scent trail! I stood there in amazement at what a slick rabbit this was. However, just as I was thinking this, I heard the report of Leonard's shotgun ring out. The bunny had momentarily left my sight and had made the fatal mistake of running into an opening where Leonard had a good view and a clear shooting lane. His aim was true and the shot found it's mark. I continued to watch the hounds work the trail, and to my amazement they worked this crazy trial this smart rabbit left pretty darn well considering this rabbit back-tracked it's own trail, jumped and ran logs, veered hard turns and headed back the same direction it came only feet away!
Another hunt that comes to mind was also in the company of Bill and my nephew Dalton. We were hunting an area near a mining industry and had permission from a landowner to hunt a parcel of land behind and around an old homestead. This particular area had more rabbits this day than anywhere I had seen in quite some time. On one occasion, the beagles entered a small thicket that contained a small brush pile in the middle and it seemed that rabbits exploded out from the briars in every direction! I don't know if the rabbits were having a convention in there or what, but the hounds had so many lines to run it got confusing! One particular run this day started behind the old house and almost ended by the rabbit running up my pant leg. I finally kicked at the rabbit to get it to run away from me so I could shoot without worrying about damaging the meat too bad, and wouldn't you know, as I kicked at it, the rabbit must have decided that this was getting scary and turned on the afterburners. I swung the Remington quickly and lined up and fired just before the rabbit crested a small knoll. All I saw was the dirt spray behind a fluffy white tail as the rabbit kept the pedal down and the ears laid back. The hounds came through right on the track and pushed the rabbit by Dalton who also sent a load of # 6's into the bare dirt until the rabbit decided this was enough and holed in a pile of stumps and tree laps.
Reflecting back on the season brings fond memories. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the `01/`02 rabbit gunning season. I hunted in the company of good friends, good hounds and good times. Even the few times I hunted alone with only my beagles, I had the company of a Creator who has blessed me so that I have the health and means to enjoy such a grand sport such as shotguns, beagles and rabbits. If the '02/'03 season is only half as good as the one just passed, it will still be a true blessing.
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