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High-Squall Barney, Little General And That Old Swamp Rabbit

by Rev. Lamar Denby


          My favorite time of the year to run my hounds and hunt rabbits is in the early Spring. It's not too cold and the mornings are fresh and scent conditions are usually good to excellent.
          One Spring morning I will remember for many years to come, if God allows me to live. It was a Saturday in March of 1967. The war in Vietnam was the headlines of the evening news. I had acquired a female Beagle named Little General from my first cousin who had answered the call to fight for his country. "Gen" was a 12 1/4'' tri-color and without a doubt one of the best rabbit dogs I've ever owned or hunted with. We lived near Parker's Branch (a beautiful creek bottom that joined our property) in Shelby County where swamp rabbits were plentiful. All I had to do was open the kennel gate and in a very short time the hunt was on.

          That particular morning I took High-Squall Barney and Little Gen with me. Barney was a 13'' black and tan about  9 years old and a fine rabbit dog. He was a slow to medium speed hound and would run rabbits all day long if you'd let him. As we approached the back side of the field, Barney let out a high-squall (now you know how he came by his name); he had jumped a swamper! Little Gen soon opened with a high pitch chop and was giving lots of mouth. I loaded my single barrel 12 guage and walked down into the bottom where the race was in progress.

          Immediately I saw the rabbit and started to shoot him but decided instead to enjoy the race for awhile. In the second circle they made a loose. From my advantage point I could see exactly what had happened. That swamper turned back toward the hounds, jumped onto a log, ran the entire length of it, jumped off, paused for a moment and then took to the brush at swamp-factor speed. A trick swamp rabbits are good at here in East Texas.

          Barney with nose to the ground was doing all he could to recover the track but to no avail. I watched with expectancy whispering under my breath, "I should have shot that rabbit!" You see my Granny could cook smothered rabbit and gravy and cat-head biscuits that would make you proud to be a farm boy. And I just knew it wasn't going to be. Then I noticed Little Gen near the log where that swamper had lost them. She gave a chop as she jumped onto the log and we were back in business. Barney followed suite with a high squall. I thought to myself, "Swamper, you had your chance--no more reprieves!" I was determined number six lead shot would end that rabbit race on the next circle. Both hounds were burning him up!

          This time that swamper made a larger circle through a pin-oak flat and was going deeper into the bottom. He was headed for his den. After about fifteen minutes of none-stop chop and squall the woods were silent. "Now what's happened!" I said to myself. Making my way in the direction of  where the race had ceased, I could hear Barney let out an occasional squall. It took me about ten minutes or so to reach them and it was evident the swamper had found refuge in a hollow log. Barney and Little Gen had him bayed solid.  My Dad had taught me how to remedy that. I cut a small oak sapling about five feet in length, trimmed off the limbs leaving a fork on the smaller end of it. It's called a twist pole in East Texas. Ramming it into the hollow I felt him . In a few minutes time Mr. Swamper was out, minus some fur. And just as I reached for him, he jumped free and away he went with Barney and Little Gen hot on his heals. Because of the obvious they were gaining on him. I knew what the outcome would be. Sure enough in a few minutes the race was over. They had caught the rabbit. I could see Little Gen coming toward me with him in her mouth.  I gave both hounds a good rub and a hug for their outstanding performance, put the rabbit in my hunting vest, snapped them on the leash, and went straight to Granny's house. That night we had smothered rabbit with gravy and biscuits for supper. I was thirteen years old back then, but it seems like only yesterday. My how time flies!
          I suppose I've told this story to my two grandsons at least a dozen times or more. Hunter is six and Tanner is four. They are my hunting partners. When we take the Beagles out for a hunt, it's not long to one or both of them will say, "Pop, tell us about High-Squall Barney and Little Gen and that old swamp rabbit." And I'll tell it again as if it was my first time.  Who knows, one day those boys may tell it to their children. Looking back I would not trade my hunting experiences with those two Beagles for anything. And believe me, we had some good hunts. Perhaps in the future I will share another fun memory. Good hunting and God bless you.

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).