Rick Bramwell Chronicle: Adventures in Rabbit Hunting | Columns
The Iceman is coming, or at least he called Tuesday night. Joe Hale reported catching fish Tuesday in 5 feet of water near the causeway at Summit Lake. Other areas of the lake do not have safe ice, but that could change by Thursday. He found 5 inches of good ice.
I feel like I’ve been waiting all winter for the wind to die down to go rabbit hunting. It fell just under 10 mph on Sunday afternoon. I put my beagle, Tramp, in the front seat and headed east.
I took beginners Thatcher Perkins and Kevin Long. I coached Long’s wife and Perkins’ sister, Paige, in softball.
When a rabbit is jumped and the dog gets on the track, it will usually come back to where you jumped it. If the hunters miss this opportunity, all bets are off. The rabbit could redo this circle or set a new parameter.
The place we were hunting has a weedy creek bottom that hugs a hill. At the top of the ridge is scattered trash. I believe rabbits were trained by coyotes to seek that refuge.
Perkins jumped the first bunny and the dog brought him back. Unfortunately, the young man was on his cell phone. The rabbit heard him and turned around. Rabbit hunting is fun and you can talk until the dog gets on the rabbit.
The second time, Tramp brought the rabbit back between the young man and me. We’ve never seen it, but the dog’s nose doesn’t lie. Bunny Briar had had enough. He crossed the road and passed under the neighbour’s barn.
Since I had to cross the road to get Tramp, we decided to hunt on the north side of the creek – nothing there.
At a steep mountain bike crossing, I headed down to the water’s edge so Tramp could grab a drink. Hunting rabbits is hard work.
We returned to the caveman barn for refreshments and snacks. Soon join us.
We raised four more rabbits. You could guess where they were sitting – sheltered from the wind. My 10 year old dog was enjoying this day. He hunts hard and raises his own rabbits.
Having hunted with dogs most of my life, I have developed a sixth sense of how a rabbit is going to run given the terrain. When Tramp opened he was on the other side of a heather. I kept the junk behind me. Before long, the rabbit appeared on a dead run for safety. My new Henry single shot .410 stopped the bunny from doing it.
Back down near the base of the hill, the dog jumped another bunny. The three of us amigos spread out along the break, but when the bunny turned, he ran down the hill. I didn’t want to climb that ridge again, but I knew I had to.
When I got to the junk heap, Tramp and Long were already there. I asked my boyfriend where the last place the dog had been was. Long has started lifting and moving trash, and the bunny comes out of it. I was excited to have Tramp on this one, but he just skipped another one. The two rabbits have descended a draw that joins another ravine. I bet the bunny takes that cup to the trash.
As Tramp picked out the trail, I waved at Long from a spot overlooking a pile of brush, thinking that might be where the bunny had gone. As the beagle neared the end of the draw, I began to think I was too late.
Some rabbits will let the dog approach a few feet before walking away. This was the case. The bunny burst out of his blanket going as fast as I’ve ever seen him run. I swung the Henry in front of the fleeing rabbit and fired, getting a clean headshot. I left the bunny lying down until Tramp arrived, gave him a pat on the back and attached the leash to his collar.
I must have watched myself kill the two rabbits for a long time.
“It’s a lot more fun than hunting deer,” he said.
Paige is going to have a hard time stopping her husband from buying a beagle.