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The Honey Hole

by Lyle Zerla

          Rabbits had become scarce in some of my favorite spots. With two good dogs you could do a lot of walking and see very few rabbits. We tried new hunting spots and the success rate improved a little. For several years I didn’t hunt my uncle’s farm because of a lack of rabbits. In the valley on the back side of the farm ran a railroad track that went to a coal mine about ten miles away.

          I was working for the railroad at that time. The next to the last day of the Ohio rabbit season, I got called for the first mine run. The first mine run went to the mine past my uncle’s farm. We spent the day working the mine. It was after dark when we started for home. There was a foot of snow on the ground and it had been there for a week.

          I was the head brakeman so I was riding on the lead engine as we pulled the 90 loads of coal towards the railroad yard. We crossed a bridge and went up the valley behind the farm. It was a mile and a half from the bridge to the tunnel at the top of the hill. In the bright light of the engine, I counted 46 rabbits on my side of the tracks. I asked the engineer if he was seeing many rabbits,. He said that they were everywhere on his side.

          The next morning I got the dog and headed for the back side of my uncle’s farm. As I walked down the valley along the tracks, I found three dead rabbits in the snow and ice. I only jumped one rabbit. The rabbit was under the grass overhang along the small creek that ran the length of the valley.

          All summer I thought about all of the rabbits that I had seen from the engine. The first day of the next season found us at the farm. My hunting partner, Jim McGlumphy, and I arrived at 9 A.M. I opened the door on my side of the truck and jumped a rabbit as I stepped out.

          Jim stepped out on his side and jumped another rabbit. We let the dogs out of the box. When Snave hit the ground, she jumped a third rabbit and up the hill they went. We let Laddie out and he jumped a fourth rabbit. Four rabbits going and we weren’t five feet from the truck!

          We picked spots on the railroad tracks and waited for Snave and Laddie to do their thing. The weeds in the little field were waist-high, but from our vantage point on the railroad tracks, we had a good view of the field. Snave was coming my direction. I spotted the rabbit and my Ithaca 37 boomed. Before I could yell, "I got him!", Jim's Browning A5 roared. By 9:10 A. M. we had two rabbits.

          Snave and Laddie were soon back at work, bringing two more rabbits to the guns. The scene was repeated and, by 9:20, we had two rabbits apiece. Again both dogs were off after different rabbits. By 9:35 we each had three rabbits. Snave jumped another rabbit and this time Laddie joined in the chase. They took the rabbit around the field and, as it tried to cross the tracks, I bagged it.

          It was only 9:45, but I had my limit. As I was field-dressing the rabbit, the dogs got another rabbit up and brought it back in front of Jim. By 9:50, we both had our limit.

          This was the fastest I had ever gotten my limit. For two people to limit-out in 50 minutes was incredible, considering that neither Jim nor I had walked more than a hundred yards from the truck!

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