A call to beagle breeder and long-time field trial participant Don LeCount shed some light on the evolution of rabbits since the eastern migration of the coyote. I had questions with no logical answers.
Last Friday, Don Zalocar and I hunted a property along an interstate. The rabbits do not normally leave this cover and have never crossed the busy highway. I have hunted this property a lot with Daisy and killed a lot of cottontails.
The first rabbit holed up shortly after the dogs jumped it. The next rabbit ran a long way and never circled back. When I located the dogs, they were on the other side of the highway fence. I leaned my gun against a tree and fought through heavy cover to get to them picking up a long facial scratch in my haste. I crossed the fence and secured the dogs to a leash.
We had hunted a little more than an hour, saw four rabbits, and had nothing to show for it. I began to doubt the hounds. Zalocar had the good fortune of finding a matching pair of large-beamed shed antlers in the briar patch.
Sunday afternoon, John Adams invited me to hunt his property. Conditions were perfect and the beagles flawless. The rabbits circled back to near the jump and we were waiting. At one point, John climbed into his tripod stand to look down on the cover. It paid off and may be a first for rabbit hunting.
My friend was impressed with the dogs. He should have seen them Friday. What was the difference?
I ran the scenario by LeCount and he told me “Where there are a lot of coyotes, rabbits have learned that if they circle back there is a predator waiting. They also hole up to avoid being eaten. I’m guessing, the first place you hunted has lots of coyotes and the other not.” The Frenchman was right.
The first place was a large piece of cover with evidence of coyote activity. Adam’s property was nestled between two houses with boys often playing basketball in the driveway. The rabbits on the two properties reacted totally different.
It may take a lot more hustle for this old fellow to get ahead of the rabbit and/or try to figure where it is headed when coyotes are in the equation.
LeCount invited me to come north to Warsaw for some ice fishing. I hope to do that. Closer to home, the ice continues to thicken on Summit Lake, but be careful. Some areas are not as thick as others. Last weekend ice anglers were laying ladders from the shore to the thicker ice. This thin ice, around the edge, was caused when the water level raised.
Summit has been producing some giant perch in the 13-14-inch class. The magic depth seems to be 8-13-feet. Larger bluegill are coming from the same depth.
It has taken a long time for the ice to reform after the first go-round. My cousin Jay live near Summit and has a small pond that had just enough ice to be safe yesterday.
Temperatures and precipitations February 13-20 are predicted to be above normal