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The Badd Boys Go Wabbit Hunting

by Dave Fisher

No one is quite sure where the Badd family came from.  They just showed up one day at the old, Murphy place and moved in … that was nearly 40 years ago.  Rumor had it that they came from some teeny town down in North Carolina, and that they had to leave town rather quickly.  It was also said that old Ray Murphy moved them in to help take care of the place, but even after years of living there little changed.  Murphy later died, and as the Badd’s began to keep the taxes paid on the place, the farm was one day put in their name.  It wasn’t much of a place, maybe 40 acres or so.  No one ever knew what they grew there, except rocks and weeds.

Those Badd boys, however, never gave anyone any trouble, and the town folk got a kick out of them, walking around with several dogs always under their feet.  Those dogs, like all the Badd boys, were a strange lot.  They looked like ‘beetles’, but you could never be sure.  Some of the neighbors complained about them running the corn fields and keeping them up half the night, so old Clem Badd got the boys to tie most of them.  There was even a rumor that some of those silly dogs could talk to each other … but it was never proven.

Jake Badd was the oldest of the youngins.   Jake had a little more fetchin up than most of his brothers and he had taken a job with a local logging company.  Most of the other brothers, Roscoe, Zeek, young Clem, Sam and Billy Bob, had all taken jobs in the small towns around Shaffer’s Corners, New York.  None of the Badds were too bright, but they had all come to realize that if they couldn’t kill it in front of the dogs, or raise it in the rock infested fields; they had to buy it to eat, and that required money and jobs.

But the boys all liked to hunt, and rabbit was a mainstay around the Badd house.  So Jake and his brothers took fairly good care of the dogs that lay around the old homestead.

There was old Tow-The-Line Rusty, the real brains of the outfit.  Rusty was a reddish color with darker patches of liver, and white tipped feet and tail.  Rusty was from an old beagle line brought up with the Badds from Carolina.  Rusty was probably more beagle than the rest of the group.  Rust never got too excited about anything.  He lay there at the end of his chain just bittin’ at the bit to get going, but he’d never let anyone know it. Rust wasn’t particularly fast running a rabbit, but he always seemed to get the job done.

There was Off-Line-Louie, one of the newer members of the motley pack.  Louie was an exuberant dog, always pulling at the chain, ready to blast headlong into a thicket.  As his name implied, Lou was all over the place running a wabbit.  If it wasn’t for Rusty, or help from the other hounds Louie would never get a rabbit back for the Badds to shoot.  But he had a nice, deep voice, and the Badd boys just liked his rowdy style, they never got rid of many dogs anyway, so Louie was tolerated.

Serious Sally got most of the work done, with some help from her sister Silly Sue.  Sue and Sally were the real wabbit dawgs in the pack although they never got much of the glory.  When the rabbit was shot and Rusty came pulling up in the lead, he or Louie would get the credit.  What the Badds didn’t know was Sally had jumped the rabbit and picked the turns three times while the boys were watering the weeds.  But what did the Badds know, the rabbit was dead and he’d be in the pot before sundown, that’s all that mattered.

There were several other dogs the Badds took hunting; Lazy Tom, Hole Up Harry, Swingin’ Sam, Blue Moon Molly, and a few the Badds gave names to just for the day.  Some of the dogs had real places to live; others just seemed to hang around the barn and the house.  It was a strange set up.

As fall approached and the weather turned cooler, old Rusty and the dogs could tell something was up.  Leaves would begin to cover the mud where most were chained, and the Badds would begin carrying guns around in the back windows of their pick-ups.  It would be time soon.

One day as the frost steamed away from the roofs of the dilapidated doghouses, Rusty looked around at his cohorts and remarked quietly, “We’re gone out Saturday.”

Louie almost busted the chain, “How you know that!  It seems too warm to hunt.”

“Oh, we’re gone out alright … I seen them green boxes of shot shells sitting on Jake’s truck seat … we’re gone out Saturday.”

That was the voice of experience.  The other dogs looked flabbergasted, but knew old Rusty was never wrong.  Sally could barely contain herself, as she looked gleefully at her sister Sue.  They were huntin’ on Saturday!!

            As Rusty had predicted young Clem, Zeek, and Jake descended from the rotten, old porch early in the morning and slipped the dogs from the chains.  Since this was a serious hunt, the first day of the season the boys took the “regular dogs” and threw in Blue Moon Molly for good measure.  The rest they locked in the run down chicken coop to keep them from following.  There hadn’t been any chickens in the place for 10 years anyway, ever since old Clem got mad at a rooster, one day and took a machete to the last of them.  It was a bloody scene, but the Badds ate good for a week!

The dogs had barely been off the chains since last winter, and could hardly contain themselves.  Rusty, was nothing more than a ball with four legs sticking out, and he rolled head long down the creek bank behind the house.  As luck was always with him, a rabbit popped out as he hit the water.  Rusty was quickly given credit for the first jump and Sally just stood there mortified.  But the chase was on and Blue Moon Molly and the rest of the pack swung downstream for several hundred yards.  Once out of sight of the Badd boys the dogs slowed down and had a pow-wow.  After all, most of them didn’t know what they were doing anyway, and weren’t sure the rabbit even had gone this way!

Finally Rusty took charge.  “Ok, you girls go down the creek for a couple hundred yards and give your best rendition of running a wabbit.  I’ll wait here and sit on the wabbit trail over there.  The boys will be impressed, and then we’ll run the bunny back and they might shoot it.”

Well, Sally, Sue, and Molly just looked at each, but agreed to carry out the rouse, and started barking down the far bank.  It sounded great!

After a few hundred yards Sally pulled around and started leading the other girls back to where Louie and Rusty were waiting.  Now the hounds could be sure that the Badds could hear everything so Rusty cut in with that low bay and Louie with his deep chop.  The dogs had heard a few shots coming from where they had left the hunting party, and they hoped it wouldn’t spook the bunny they were chasing.

You see the Badds were young and exuberant and while the dogs were off chasing one rabbit they might wander around and shoot another they kicked out of nearby brush pile or even shoot a squirrel that happened by.  It didn’t matter, it all went into the pot at the end of the night and the motley pack was given credit for most of what happened that day.

Rusty was just coming back onto the real line and looking for help from his step sisters when he heard two shots nearby.

“Hey, that’s my wabbit, Zeek!  Yaaaa, know yaaaaa kain’t shoot ‘at good!”  young Clem yelled.

“Well, I’m older, and I say my 12 gauge got that rabbit, better, ‘in 'at puny .410 urin carrin’!”  Zeek came back.  Zeek got the rabbit … he always got most of the game, whether he shot it or not.  Jake came over and broke up the fight, before it came to blows, which many times it did.

So before the first hour was up, the Badds had two rabbits and one very unlucky hen pheasant that just happened to stroll by.  Things were looking up!

Silly Sue was running around bouncing into things like she always did, when she bumped into a cottontail dug in at the base of a tree.  She barely got out a whimper, when Tow-the-Line Rusty stole it from her.  The big chase was on again and it couldn’t have pleased the boys more!

This rabbit was a real runner and it took the dogs down into the lower pasture and into the woods beyond.  Rusty kept looking back hoping the hunters would follow, because he wasn’t sure how much of this he could take!

After Louie about grabbed the bunny by the tail, Sally and Sue kept him straightened out until they came to an old fence line.  Rusty was now slowing considerably when he caught sight of the wabbit sneaking back through the fence while the rest of the pack was on the other side.  Molly was barking to high heaven and the rest of the dogs were all barking and searching for the bunny in a small thicket just over the fence.

Rusty lay down and caught a few precious moments of rest and would have stayed longer except that Silly Susie finally discovered the rabbit had gone back through the hedge and back toward the Badds.

“Now, Sue, we need to cool it here,”  old Rusty scolded.  “Ya know this heat of the day is just about killin’ me.  Let’s wait until the others get over here and then we’ll start off again!”

Susie was pretty gullible anyway, so she milled around there with Rusty until the pack finally descended on their resting spot.

“OK,” Rusty says in his low voice, “Them boys are shootin’ pretty good today and we’ve been out for a few hours, we need to keep this run going for a while longer before we head in.”

The others agreed.  Although they were all keyed up and wanted to hunt, the 70-degree November day was wearing them down, especially since none had barely been off the chain all summer. The Badds in their usual hunting luck had managed to kill several rabbits and three pheasants while the dogs were running around them.  No matter what happened, it was already a good day.

Rusty was spent.  He could barely make it back to the creek, where he was going whether the wabbit went that way or not.  He rolled down over the bank and splashed into the deepest pool he could find.  Ahhhhhhh, now that felt great!  The other hounds followed and were also relieved to get water on them and a cool drink.  

It just so happened that the rabbit really did go this way, and when Rusty was finally able to climb the far bank he stepped right on the trail.  Now even he could tell this was the hot track and let out a couple deep bays to impress the boys.  The other hounds came streaming out of the creak and accidentally crashed into another rabbit hiding in some low honeysuckle hanging on the edge of the water.  Louie almost had a heart attack trying to catch it, and Molly was screaming like some creature had grabbed her by the tail.  Rusty looked back only to see the second wabbit go streaking by.

The rest of the pack went flying by Rusty, but soon out of sheer respect for the old guy, came back and settled in behind him.  They figured they were all headed the same way anyhow, no use getting in a hurry about it.  The pack was just coming around the last crook in the stream where a worn tractor path led out to a small sweet corn patch where the Badds were now waiting.

All the members of the pack were singing in their loudest voices because they knew the boys were near.  It didn’t sound half-bad!  The field was in sight when the gunfire began.

Pop … Pop … Bammm  …. Bammm …  Bang!  Bang!

“Now Zeek, ya' know I got ‘at rabbit … he weren’t even in urrr view when ya' bigin' shootin’!”  young Clem was hollerin’.

“Ahhhhhhhh, quit urrr whinin’, I’ll let ya clean all these wabbits if ya' shut up!”  Zeek yelled back.  “Beside, ya can’t kill anythin’ with that puny .410 anyway.”

“Well, I’ll tell ya, Zeek, I oughts to break this gun over urrrr head …”

“Ahhhh, quit your whinni’, Clem, … and Zeek you give your brother one of those bunnies,” Jake cut in.

“But, I shot … …”

“I said quit your whinin’ both ya!  Dad’s been yellin’ from the back porch for an hour, lets’ get some ropes on these dogs.”

The Badds hadn’t made a final tally yet, but the game pouches were bloody and full, they were going to eat good this week.

The girls weren’t ready to quit and young Clem had to chase them around the sweet corn patch for another half hour before he caught them, but he managed to kill another pheasant while he was doing it.  Rusty and Louie were ready for the chain and the shade of  the willow tree.

“Them dogs did good today, huh, Zeek,”  Jake spoke up.

“Yeah, I’ll say … old Rusty still has it in him, huh?  I’ll bet he good eat up them puny trial dogs, huh, Jake?”

“Yeah, I’ll bet he could."

Old Rusty settled down between the roots of the old willow tree to kick back, while Jake carried him a fresh pan of water.  He shot a quick look over to Louie and gave a smirky wink.

            “Stick with me kid, I’ll show ya how to run a wabbit,” he said to Louie.

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).