by Emery C. Barg
It was a crisp morning, as far as southern Idaho is concerned. The temperature was in the low 20's and there was a heavy frost on the ground. It must have been a high humidity night, which is unusual for around here. Southern Idaho averages somewhere in the neighborhood of nine inches of precipitation annually. Most of it comes in the winter and early spring. As you can imagine, not much grows around here without the help of irrigation. My hunting grounds are miles and miles of sage covered Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. The most common rabbit is the Jackrabbit. Desert Cottontails and Pygmies can be found around towns/cities and in areas where there are actually trees (such as water runoffs from the mountains). Snowshoes tend to be in the upper elevations.
My choice for the day would be the fast running Jacks. There are plenty of them around here, almost too many. There are times that you can see up to five of them running in all different directions. It makes it hard to know if your dog is actually staying on one rabbit. The scenery was beautiful, the mountains in the distance were capped white with snow and the sky was a clear and dark blue as the sun was making its way up over the horizon. It was going to be a beautiful day.
I didn't have to wait long for the music to start. Scenting would be good this morning, as I would soon find out. The chases were long and often, with very few checks. Jacks often tend to run in long zigzagged lines, wait on whatever is chasing them to get too close for comfort, and then take off again. A least this is my experience when chasing them with Beagles here in southern Idaho. The long legged coyote may give a better chase due to its speed. The rabbit may not have to opportunity to take a break. A single, medium-speed, 13-inch Beagle probably isn't much competition to Mr. Jackrabbit. None the less, that is what I have and this is what I use to track them. Hannah was out and running, tracking her prey, giving tongue, and doing what she was bred to do. We were going to put on some miles today.
The rabbits would be lucky today, the only thing that I was armed with was a camera. Today was a training session and I wanted to gather some pictures of my dogs working. I wanted to get in a position to see both the rabbit and the dog and get them in the picture together. This would prove to be more difficult than I anticipated. Just when I would think that it was going to work out, the rabbit would change direction on me. All the sprinting and skirting around was for nothing. I never did get that picture.
After I gave up on that, my next plan was to get a picture of Hannah giving mouth. I had plenty of opportunity for this, but I wanted the perfect picture of here with her giving mouth and catch the mountains in the background. A lot more running on my part, and I couldn't get exactly what I wanted. I gained a new respect for outdoor photographers. It really is tough to get that perfect shot. I did take some pictures, but not the ones that I really wanted.
All wasn't lost that morning, we both got some much needed exercise. I don't know who was the worse for wear that morning. I won't hesitate to admit my Beagle is in much better shape than I am. However, as as she hit the back seat of the car, she was out like a light. There wasn't any effort from her to try and coax her way up to the front seat at all. I even stopped at the drive through to get myself some lunch, and the smell of the food didn't even warrant an open eye or a twitch of the nose. Any day that I can get outside and work my dog is a good day to me. Even if we don't do well, or we don't find a thing. I am thankful for the opportunity to enjoy a day for training with my hunting Beagle.