As a member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation banquet committee, I am expected to come up with creative ways to make money. We auctioned a day of rabbit hunting with me and my beagles. Inclement weather and conflicting schedules put us down to the wire.
Doung Skinner was the high bidder. He is a veterinarian from Greenwood and has owned bird dogs for years. In fact, he has invested into the future with the purchase of two Brittany spaniel pups.
Skinner and I are near the same age and share a passion, going beyond hunting, for the outdoors. Like me, he writes an outdoor column for his local newspaper.
It took Lady and the Tramp about three minutes to get two rabbits up and running. I shot the second one coming through and then put the hounds on the other. My guest put himself in the right place to catch the cottontail on the second circle.
The dogs soon had another rabbit on the run; one they had rousted out of a deadfall in the creek bottom. They circled their prey once and was bringing it through the second time.
The bottom was fairly open, but I must have been looking the wrong way. Here came the hounds bawling on the trail just a few feet to my right. “They cannot be right,” I told myself, but they were. They lost the track near a small downed tree. I approached the clump of cover and out popped the rabbit. It had held tight as the dogs fervently tried to pick up the scent. I’ve seen this before, rabbits know they can outrun the hounds.
I knew Skinner was up the hill. I yelled, “Here he comes” and then heard the report of his shotgun.
My guest hunts with an old .12 gage pump that belonged to his father and I with an Iver Johnson .16 gage single shot with a matted rib, a gun I traded for when I was 15 years old. I bartered for it with a single shot .12 gage and $5.00.
The dogs were running hard on a warm day. We took a break at the truck and gave them some water.
We released the dogs near a pond on the back of the property and found some lumber to sit on. Our break ended when Doug saw a rabbit cross an opening and run into the creek bottom, shortly followed by the dogs at full bay.
The rabbit busted across another opening and into a thicket just ahead of a load of buckshot, I sent his way.
Again, I must have been looking the wrong way. The dogs went into the bramble and doubled back on the same trail. I was sure they were back-tracking, an undesired trait for a beagle. Soon, they would come to their senses and go back the right way. My bad, the bawls intensified telling me the trail was hot.
As the cry of the hounds neared, I glimpsed the rabbit running through the creek bottom cover and fired. He was wounded and managed to disappear in a maze of raspberry and wild rose canes. The dogs passed me by and caught up to the rabbit.
Doug Skinner and I broke for lunch and met his neighbor’s son Logan at the Iron Kettle in Sulfur Springs.
Logan had a little over an hour to hunt, but we could not get him a rabbit.
The next hunt is on me. I enjoyed hunting with Dr. Skinner and found us to have a lot in common. The elk benefited and so did I.