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Hare Hunting On Their Terms

by Derrick Tappin           
          Our day of hare hunting started early one Saturday morning, the temperature was 16 below zero, and the air was cool and crisp with a light breeze. We'd had some small amounts of snowfall the night before, and there was about 3 to 4 inches on the ground. But regardless, it looked like a great day for running hare. I was joined by a fellow Beagler and good friend Perry Parsons from Newfoundland. Perry is an experienced hare hunter and loves the sport as much as I do. He brought along with him his two beagles: Snoopy and Lucky. Lucky is a 13 inch Beagle and Snoopy is a 15 inch Beagle, but they both run close to the same speed. I had brought my best male, Echo Boy, and an older female, Daisy. I also brought a Beagle-Basset cross that loves to run hare as much as my registered hounds.

          Once we loaded our hounds it was off we went. We arrived at our hunting spot, and the weather was absolutely perfect. It was a calm and quiet day with almost no breeze, and there were fresh hare tracks running all over the place in the fresh snow. The hounds were all rip roaring and ready to run and begged us to release them from their dog boxes. The hounds were then released and off and running . We were hunting on a section of frozen muskeg, that consisted of a lot of spruce and pine trees that are packed so tightly together that you couldn't see more than 10 feet into the bush. We knew that there were a lot of hare hiding in this section of land.

          It wasn't long before we got our first strike. Echo Boy was on one and all the others harked in on the chase. We knew that this hare had fresh legs and was not going to give up too easy. Perry and I were set up a line about 50 yards apart, and just waiting for the little speedster to cross. To our surprise the little guy ran down beside the line and refused to cross it. I did get a glimpse of him in the bush and he was heading right for Perry. I could not get the hare into my sights because the brush was just too thick, so I signaled Perry As luck would have it, he could not shoot him either, so we Just sighed and decided to wait until the Beagles circled him once again. It was about 20 minutes later before he turned and headed back towards us. He was slowing down and the dogs sounded like they were getting closer to him. We were waiting on the line while building up anticipation and excitement -- we wanted this sneaky little devil.

          When he just about got to the line for a clear shot he turned again. We did not know why he was doing this! We were being quiet and did not move when the hounds got close. He was just a real, dog-smart hare, and must have been shot at a few times in his lifetime . Perry and I decided then decided to walk into the thick dense cover and set up in the bush. We figured since we can't get him on our terms; we will hunt him on his own terms, and besides this method of hunting is a lot more exciting and challenging .

          We set up in hare central where there were tracks and running pathways going off in every direction. Once the hounds started coming back towards us, they split up into two smaller packs and were running two different hares. I took my shotgun's safety off and got ready! I heard Echo Boy getting closer to me and sure enough he had a hare coming hard and fast right in my direction. I got a quick glimpse of the hare running through the thick timber and just knew this was going to be a hard one to hit. I was hoping he would turn and run through an opening where I could get a real good clean shot. Sure enough, he proceeded to run towards me, and he took to the opening -- WHAM,  I took the shot and missed him. I then quickly took another shot and rolled him over but he got up and ran about 20 feet farther. Once he stopped, he just sat there for a few minutes. I had to reload my double barrel shotgun, since I had none left in the chamber. I shot again and finally got him. I then waited for Echo to get there and it wasn't long before he was there, wagging his tail and happy as ever. He quickly accounted for his game and he was off again searching for another one of these tricky hares.

          When all the excitement was going on with me, Perry was out about 100 yards shooting like crazy. He had shot 4 times and was still shooting. Later, he told me that one of his hounds was driving two hares toward him and he shot them both. We continued to hunt these guys on their terms and it seemed to be as rewarding as the traditional style of hare hunting. One thing for sure, it was definitely more exciting for me! But we knew that it was going to be awhile before the hare in this area were going to relax enough to come over the lines again.

          When we met up for lunch, Perry had shot 4 good sized hares and I had bragging rights for this day. I shot 11 and was going to brag all day since usually it is Perry that bags the most game because he is a better shot. We decided that this area was getting shot out and the hares here were getting too smart. We decided to move on to another spot and let this one calm down for a few months, and let the snowshoes get back into their regular routine. We let our hounds run and have some more fun before hunting out another nice, heavily populated area, were the hares have never seen or heard a Beagle chasing them, but that's another story for another article.

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