-By Rich Miller
After Thanksgiving, small game season opens and all of the guys that have been training their beagle dogs all year finally get a chance to shoot at those fast running cottontails. I do not own a pack of beagles but I do enjoy going a couple of times a year. Some of these guys run these dogs all year long. They enter these dogs in trials and have contests against fifty or sixty other dogs. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to have a really good pack of dogs. They take rabbit hunting as serious as I take chasing deer and turkey, and when you get a chance to hunt with one of these experienced packs of dogs they are a joy to watch and listen too.
I was lucky enough to get invited on one of these hunts last Saturday. Naturally I jumped at the invite and asked if it would be ok if I brought my nephew along with me. He said that would be fine and we agreed to meet at 7:30 Saturday morning. I called my nephew (Porter) and told him we had a rabbit hunt to go on Saturday morning, he was really excited until I told him that I would be there to pick him up at 7:00 a.m. When I told him the time, he asked if we could make it 8:00 because he didn’t want to get up that early. Once I got through laughing at him he decided he could be up in time and wanted to know if he could bring his .410 shotgun.
The morning of the hunt it was really cold so Porter looked like a little Eskimo but he was excited and ready to go no matter what the weather. When we turned the dogs out of the box it didn’t take but a minute to get on a rabbit and the chase was on. I explained to Porter that we didn’t have to chase the dogs and if we stayed in the same spot and were real quiet that the dogs would run the rabbit by us and then we would get a shot. The dogs ran this rabbit for about 15 minutes and we figured he must have run in a hole because the dogs just lost him in a thick cane patch and they never did get back on that rabbit. After that, we re-grouped and the dogs ran several different rabbits over the next couple of hours but we never could get Porter in position to get a shot. We were trying to get on the opposite side of a briar patch that the dogs were running in to see if we could cut the rabbit off and when we got about half way around it the rabbit crossed in front of us. He didn’t get a shot but he did get to see it. Well the dogs were not very far behind the rabbit so we got on the other end of the hedgerow to try and cut him off. About the time we got where we wanted to be and set up there was a shot from the other side of the hedgerow; one of the other guys had been in the right place.
We hunted for a couple more hours and were after rabbits the whole time, but we were not able to get one in front of Porter. Even though he didn’t get one he got to see several rabbits and was just as happy when the other guys shot one. He told me later that hearing the dogs bark and chasing the rabbits made him so excited the whole time because he never knew when a rabbit might come out. He did really well for being a seven year old, he kept up with me all morning and never complained . . . until it was time to eat and he was ready for lunch.