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Our Snowshoe Hare Hunting Trip

by Willa Benge

          It was after noon when we left home, so it was very late (early?) when we got to the Hampton Inn in Gaylord, Michigan. I was so tired, Odell couldn't even entice me to go back out to get something to eat! So, being the wonderful husband that he is, he drove back to the filling station to gas up and get us some snacks to eat while we waited on my brother and his son to meet us there. They only had to drive from Ann Arbor, but somehow we managed to beat them!

          Odell is a great driver! He had boogied up I-75 through snow, sleet and bow-coop-duh construction work, in the pickup, with the three Beagles in the dog box, and pulling a trailer with our two 4-wheelers on it. We don't get a lot of snow in southern Kentucky, so it was a delight to find about 8 inches of the packed white stuff on the parking lot, and drifts several feet deep. It was indeed a Winter Post card setting! The only thing disturbing the idyllic scene was some idiot outside, spinning his tires like crazy! It got to be so annoying, I went to the window to see what was going on. Yep! There was my Odell, climbing out of the truck, which was mired up to its running boards in snow! For some reason, he had decided to drive to the back parking lot and cut a circle to get turned around. Instead, he drove into a big ditch that snow had so cleverly hidden from the dear man. Oh well, something good did come of it--the laugh Harold and George got when they pulled in and saw where Odell was parked!

          We got to the Mackinaw Bridge quite early, in spite of the time it took them to get Odell unstuck. It maybe wasn't as early as the picture infers, for I think I may have taken that one on our return trip. Anyway, I couldn't believe all the ice in the water! We were going to Drummond Island which is north, then east of the bridge. Harold had been there before, and knew they had plenty of snowshoe hares and lots of State land to hunt on. He had reserved us a cabin on the far side of the island. One side was the icy Lake Huron and the other side was the hunting grounds. My only real fear about the whole trip was of loosing the dogs. The guys kept assuring me the dogs couldn't get off that island. You even have to take a ferry to get there! Well, it's a great big island, and I was still a little apprehensive!

          Now I'm no hunter. But it is great fun to listen the the dogs run. And Odell has always loved rabbit hunting. Harold had been telling him for years that he ought to try hunting snowshoe hares. They are quite a bit larger and run in much wider circles. When the weather turns cold, their fur turns from camouflage gray to snow white, so, except for their tracks in the snow, they are hard to spot. Odell was just itching to get started!

          It turned out to be a great spot! The guys could hunt basically right in front of the cabin. I would ride my 4-wheeler over to where they were, stay as long as I wanted, then come on back. There were lots of good trails for snow mobiles, so I could ride around in the snow, taking care not to a.) get lost and b.) freeze to death. Things were going so well! The guys were having a good hunt. The dogs were lean, mean, hunting machines. And I was so happy that I did the cooking and dish washing--without grumbling!

          Right up until the last night. There was such a storm! The wind blew across that lake and whipped and howled around our cabin so hard that Odell got up at 4:00 am. He thought the smoke alarm was going off! And it had turned so cold outside that you absolutely couldn't stand it!

          At first, the guys were going to just pack up and head back. But the more they talked, the more they decided they needed to have just one more good little hunt. I knew they wouldn't be gone long, and it was too cold for me out there, so I decided to stay at the cabin and have all the stuff packed and ready for us to leave when they got back.

          I had it timed just right. I heard Harold's footsteps on the porch. He busted into the cabin with his big announcement, "Well, we lost the dogs!"

          I swallowed my tonsils. What about the shock collars they had on? What about those thousand dollar tracking collars? How could they have gotten lost??? Odell said he wouldn't use the shock collars, because he was reasonably certain they were running a rabbit and not a deer. And the more he fooled with the tracking receiver box, the more it appeared to me that he just flat didn't know how to use it! It almost seemed like he was playing with me. He'd turn a knob on that box, and the lump in my throat would go up. He'd turn another knob, and the lump would go down. I finally managed to tell him he would probably get better reception outside.

          They did have a good hunt that day--for the dogs--all day... Harold kept coming back to the cabin about every other hour to tell me we weren't leaving that island without the dogs. I worked logic puzzles and crosswords to keep my mind occupied while they hunted.

          At last, Odell picked them up on the tracker! They were nearly back to the spot where they'd been let out that morning. They seemed to be quite happy to get back into the dog box.

          The ferry left the island at 10 minutes past the hour, every hour. We were on the 5:10ferry ride back to the mainland. A lot of miles between us and home. But we had each other. And we had the dogs! All was right with the world!

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).