by Douglas Whitehead
The morning of the hunt was one of those picture perfect mornings. Just a little cool, and not a cloud in the sky. I had arrived at the hunting club a little early in hopes of maybe getting a glimpse of a wild turkey or a deer, and to look around for some recent rabbit sign. I found some good signs down along a large, green field that was located on the bank of Schultz Creek, nestled among some huge, oak trees that must be around 150 plus years. It would be the last hunt of the season. Mike, John, Braxton, and myself would hunt the bank of Schultz Creek.
After the guys arrived we turned the Beagles out, and you could tell that rabbits had been all over that field. I think every dog was smelling a rabbit. Ginger, a three year old gyp, was working her way right up to the side of the green field and jumped a rabbit next to a log. The rabbit ran down the edge of the field right past John and me. Neither of us got a shot. The rabbit led the hounds up into the woods and back around, he had decided that he did not want to be chased, so across the field he went and into the creek. He swam across to the other side avoiding both dogs and hunters. All of the Beagles followed the rabbit's scent to the edge of the creek, and that was the end of that race. The water was just a little too swift that day and none of the Beagles wanted to try it.
After that little run we decided to follow a path that led us north up the bank of the creek. I told Braxton there should be some good-size, swamp rabbits along this path. There was just too much rabbit sign for they're not to be. As we walk about fifty yards, Copper, my Beagle caught the sent of a rabbit and with a good strong yelp the other Beagles honored the find, and the rabbit was up and running. With the sound of the Beagles echoing all throughout the woods it was pure music to the ears.
The rabbit ran a good half circle and right in front of me. As he was running under some brush I got off one shot. I thought I had missed, but no, he was down. It was one of the largest swamp rabbits I had killed this season. Within a few minutes the Beagles struck on another rabbit. The rabbit ran right across the path and straight into a hole on the side of the bank. Rose, being one of those dogs that will not give up, went in right behind the rabbit. But the hole was just a little to small for her. She finely backed out and I was glad she did. The last time she went into a hole after a rabbit we had to dig her out.
We all worked our way on down the creek bank. Within an hour the Beagles had struck on two more rabbits and both John and Braxton had a rabbit in their gamepouch. By this time it was getting on up about lunch time and I think all the hounds and hunters too were just about tuckered out. After all, this was the third hunt we had been on that week. We decided to just call it quits for the season and go home. It had been one of the best seasons I can ever remember having and I'm sure that Mike, John, and Braxton felt the same. It would be the last time I would see John and Braxton until fall. Mike and I would see each other throughout the summer. We will be working with the Beagles and trying out a few new ones.