by Douglas Whitehead
It was 3:00 am Saturday morning when my alarm clock went off. It wasa cool brisk morning, just right for a good rabbit hunt. So I gatheredup all my gear and hit the road. The night before me and my friendsMike, John, and Braxton planed this great rabbit hunting trip to HaleCounty, AL. This rabbit hunting spot is about 75 miles south of Birmingham. This areais good for a prosperous rabbit hunt.
By 5:00 am we had the Beaglesloaded up and we were on our way. We were all excited and lookingforward to a full day of great rabbit hunting. We took 9 Beagles withus. We hunted in a clear cut this which simply refers to a place where timber has been harvested.The timber company had left numerous piles of logs which serve as great lodging for rabbits. I guess within 10 minutesafter turning the Beagles loose, Rose, a female or (gyp) as some will calla female dog, quickly picked up the sent of a rabbit that led herstraight to a log pile. All it took was a few little yelps and a barkfrom Rose, and the entire pack was all over that large pile of logs.I'm sure you can imagine the sound of 9 beagles on a rabbit thatwas buried up in a log pile.
About 4 or 5 minutes of this and the rabbitthought he had had enough and decided to make a run. I saw the cottontail slipping out the side of the pile and could have shot but I told Mikethat I saw the rabbit and to just let the hounds run it for awhile, which is what we did. I climbed to the top of the log pile where Icould get a good look and watch as the rabbit took Rose and Copperand all of the other Beagles on a nice long run. The rabbit made a large circle, Iiguess it covered about 8 or 10 acres and then headed back to the samelog pile. About 40 yards out from the log pile John downed the rabbitwith his 20 ga. shotgun. All it took was one well placed shot and that bunny was in the game pouch.
After that run, Copper, which happens to be one of my Beagles caught the sent of arabbit in one of the other log piles. After some Beagle prodding, the race was on and this run lastedonly about 30 seconds. This rabbit ran straight at Mike and Braxton soMike downed the rabbit with a close head shot. Immediately, John yelled over to Mike and said thatrabbit almost ran up your pants leg didn't it.
After that short bit of excitement one of the male Beagles and my female Beagle Copper jumped a deer. I told the guys that I would follow the two dogs and bring them back. I guess I walked over two miles thru the forest tracking and calling the two hounds. When I found them they had lost the deer and were running a rabbit again. Being that I was so far from the hunting party I had to call the dogs off the rabbit. By firing a shot in the air and calling excitingly here-here-here as if I had bagged a rabbit. Both Beagles came as they should when called. These two hounds have never been broken off of deer, that's right broken off of deer.
All of our other Beagles have been broken from running and chasing deer. The way Mike and John do deer breaking is to take a deer leg out of their freezer and let it thaw. Then they lay a trail through the yard by dragging the deer leg. At the end of the trail, they attach the deer leg to a car battery. Once the Beagle finds this deer leg and bites it or touches it with its nose, it will quickly change its mind about deer chasing as something fun. This type of deer break training may take two or three times over a period of 3 months but it does work. Obedience is very important when it comes to rabbit hunting the hound should come when called and you should not have to chase your dog to get him to load up. Having good rabbit hounds means working with them year round.