You Never Know When You Will Make a Difference- Take a Kid Hunting
Hunting rabbits on your own and with a beagle might seem similar, but they are two different sports. Without a dog, there are no second chances. There can be multiple opportunities with a good dog like my beagle Tramp. However, one must acquire knowledge about hunting with a dog. My New Year’s afternoon was spent rabbit hunting with three young men in their early 20s. Jonathan Schlabach, David Schlabach, and Adam Grbic are all cousins and related to my good friend Dave Schlabach.
As the afternoon progressed, the hunt became a teaching experience. Anyone who has not hunted with a hound wants to follow the dog. I explained the dog’s location is where the rabbit was. Look ahead and also behind. Rabbits will often make a U-turn to throw off the dog.
Unlike deer hunting, Rabbit hunting involves talking and is more of a social endeavor. However, there is a time to be quiet when the dog is bawling on the trail. Rabbits usually run in a circle, or a hound would not be needed. If the rabbit hears you, it will break off its intended route. You must also stand still until you realize the rabbit is making a different circle. On one occasion, everyone was spread out and in contention for a good shot, but when Tramp kept barking in one location, I knew the cottontail had holed. When this happens, leash the dog and take him away from the area.
I instructed these young men to yell excitedly when they jumped a rabbit, “Right here, right here, right here.” This lets Tramp know you have a bunny for him to run. Soon, I realized there had to be more of an explanation. While Tramp was barking on the trail, one of the guys would see that rabbit running well ahead of the dog or another rabbit and begin yelling, “Right here.” I never call Tramp off a hot trail just to get on another. I will lead him to the other trail if he has difficulty working one out.
When I was these fellows’ age, one of my mentors was Jack Baker. He did not mince words. He said, “Son, you kill all your rabbits on the second shot. Put one shell in your pump shotgun, which will keep you from hurrying the first shot. Taking a little more time means more distance and a wider pattern with your pellets. The size of those pellets is important, too. I like #5 or #6. Anything smaller will hide in the meat. Biting down on a small piece of lead is a painful experience.
One of the guys shot at a rabbit twice as it ran into heavy weeds. Tramp ran it a short way and quiet. He does this when he finds the rabbit dead. Few beagles will retrieve. I always investigate and usually find the rabbit or see blood going into a hole. Each young man harvested a rabbit. For David and Adam, it was their first. All agreed hunting rabbits with a dog is much more fun than deer hunting.
The last rabbit ran the clock out. Tramp brought it around three times, and there were shots fired. The sun went down, and briar rabbit lived to run another day.
The next day, I received this text: “Hey Rick, This is Adam Grbic. I was hunting with you, Jonathon, and David. I just wanted to thank you again for taking the time to get that all set up for us and for helping us bag some rabbits. We couldn’t have done it without you. That was something I had never done before, and loved it. You made a remark before we left about maybe setting up some future hunts. I never had the chance to tell you how awesome that would be and how much it would mean. I am always looking for a mentor to teach me new stuff. It would mean the world to me to go out and learn some things with you. Sadly, I don’t have any grandpas left. To have an opportunity like this is amazing.”
You can make a difference by taking a young person hunting or fishing.