A Cottontail Rabbit Hunt
The old man, old dog, and old gun had an unimaginable rabbit hunt Tuesday afternoon. The wind was 14 mph. I wasn’t sure the ground would hold a scent for my 11-year-old beagle Tramp.
I began hunting some small weed patches intersected with dirt lanes. Among the weeds were piles of chunk asphalt and cement. Complimenting the area is a very high dirt mound overgrown with weeds and scrub brush.
Tramp quickly got on a hot trail. I guessed lucky on where the rabbit would cross the lane but missed the shot. This rabbit got under cover. No problem, in two minutes my beagle had jumped another.
I stood at the crossroad of two access lanes. My guess was good but my thumb slipped off the old hammer gun. I got off a shot just as the cottontail entered cover. Did my gun fire the second before or the second after the rabbit disappeared?
Tramp picked up the scent where I last saw the rabbit. He ran about 20 yards and quit. When my dog does this, he found the rabbit dead, meaning: his job is done. Sure enough, I found Mr. Briar.
This old dog is good at getting in the cover and moving game. He jumped another bunny at the base of the hill. I figured the rabbit would circle back to the security of dumped cement. I negotiated myself carefully to the top of a pile and waited.
The sound of the dog got faint, stopped for a few minutes, then, fired up again. The cottontail had turned. I was on full alert as the sound of the bawling hound got closer. Over the crest of the hill came the rabbit ready to take refuge under the refuge, A load of #5 shot stopped its effort to escape.
Two rabbits. I’d be happy with it, but it was, at best, 45 minutes into the hunt. There were so many rabbits. In five minutes, Tramp, who also answers to Bud Boy, was on another fresh track.
This rabbit stayed on top. I was in a perfect position until the dog quit barking. I counted to 100 and moved to the edge. The beagle picked up the scent again and the rabbit ran through where I had been. Yo-yo-ing up and down the hill was a bit much. I snapped the leash on my dog.
We walked across a barn lot and into a flat weed patch. This was a sidebar on the way to my truck. Quickly, we jumped another bumper. It was going to run out of real estate in a hurry. I had seen this act before. The rabbit would circle back just inside the weeds at the edge of the drive.
I hurried to the spot. Sure enough, the cottontail showed and stopped. This gave me three rabbits.
My old hunting companion and I were headed for the truck when he struck another good-smelling trail. This speedster crossed a lane even with my truck. My wait was not long. Now, I was one rabbit shy of a limit. It has probably been 20 years.
Everything on the hunt was old. My shot shells had corroded bases and would not eject. Before you think I’m cheap, try to find .16 ga. shells. I kept a table knife in my hunting coat to pry the spent shell out and reloaded.
I picked up my fourth rabbit and had 30 feet of cover to my truck. Up went another rabbit. I dropped the one in my hand and took a very quick shot. I had killed a limit of five cottontail rabbits in an hour and a half.
The old dog, old man, old 1930s gun, and old ammo put it all together on a windy, 50-degree day.