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Rabbit Hunting In Northern Wisconsin

by Emery C. Barg


          The original plan was to drive from Idaho and take my young Beagle to northern Wisconsin when going home for Christmas this year. Now when I say northern Wisconsin, I am not talking about Milwaukee, Madison, La Crosse, or even Green Bay. I am talking about the real northern Wisconsin, above 45 degrees latitude. Anyway, back to my story. The original plan fell by the wayside and I had to find a friend to watch my Beagle while we were gone. We had an unexpected doctor visit to attend to due to some lab results from my wife’s pregnancy. I am happy to say that all is fine and everything turned out normal. On with the story...

          My brother (with Super Sport and Runaway Shiloh), his friend Greg (with Molly and one of his pups) and I went out on New Years Eve around 1:00 pm. The weather was in the low 20’s and the snow (in the woods) was a couple inches below the knees. Walking from the truck, off the road and into the woods was quite the experience. I was up to my thighs in snow thinking that the dogs would have a rough time with all this snow. I grew up in this area, but have been gone for 15 years, 10 of which were spent in the U.S. Navy. It was the first time in quite a while back in “real” snow. The first hour or so, was kind of hit and miss. There was about an inch of new powder that would fall back over the trail the first time the dogs and rabbits went through. The dogs opened up shortly after letting them go, but really had a hard time keeping on a rabbit.

          However, after about the first hour when the rabbits re- used some of the same trails, that is when the fun really started. The dogs started and stayed on one rabbit for quite a long time now. The rabbits were plentiful and were on the move because of all the commotion. I was standing about 10 yards from my brother, on the edge of a clearing, watching for him to give a heads up if anything was coming his direction. I didn’t have to wait very long and along came a cottontail. Now, I have heard of the old back track trick, but until that day, I have never seen it. I watched as ol’ bugs came towards me, stopped as to check out where the dogs were, and then turned around and went back where he came from. He back tracked about 10 yards and then went out towards my brother.

          My brother carries a .22 cal semi-automatic with a scope. I can’t figure out why he does this, maybe so he doesn’t have to clean so many rabbits. In his defense, the stuff we were hunting in, one would have to be a pretty good shot to take this rabbit even with a shotgun.

          Needless to say, this rabbit lived to see another day. Now, I was interested in watching the dogs figure out that trick that ol’ bugs played on them. As expected, they came down to the end where the rabbit stopped and overshot a little. Both turned around and picked it back up after working the check for a minute or so. Sport kept on going and was backtracking, but Shiloh (the best pound dog one could hope for) turned and went the right direction and Sport harkened in. Shiloh got her name from my niece after she watched the movie and thought that this pound Beagle should have that name. My brother added the Runaway part. Seemed to fit...

          The race was back on and soon the dogs were running along the railroad tracks. We decided to relocate and walked out to the tracks in hopes of finding the rabbit skirting along the edge of the woods. As usual, we were too late but got to watch the dogs work in the deeper snow. There is so much desire in a Beagle when chasing rabbits. I had to joke with my brother and say that chasing rabbits to a Beagle must me better than (well, you know) to us. Old Murphy’s law visited us while we were standing on the tracks. A train happened along at about 50 MPH, you couldn’t hear a thing from the dogs and they were soon out of visual range. We waited for the train to go on by, Greg picked up his hat, and we headed back into the woods. We caught up to the dogs and eventually found what looked like a good spot to stand and wait. My brother got up into a tree and stood in Y in some of the branches and I handed his gun up to him and we waited. Greg on down the line closer to the trucks. I think that eventually, Molly came out to the road and he picked her up and put her in the truck. He ended up pulling someone out of the ditch because they gave our vehicles too much room and slid off the road. Back to the chase.

          We didn’t have to wait very long before the other three dogs had a rabbit heading our direction. That one got away as well. The dogs ran more rabbits and eventually circled them around towards us again. One cottontail and one snowshoe went home with us that day. Both shot out of that tree. I think that we spent upwards of three hours out there that day. It sure was great to hear Sport’s big booming voice. Shiloh almost makes you cringe when she gets close to a rabbit. It sounds like someone is poking her with needles, but she sure gives it her all when out in the woods. Molly gave me mixed emotions, she used to be my dog. I sold her to Greg because she was too tall to enter in the field trials, and I am only allowed to have one dog at the house as long as we live in town. It was nice to see her work again and to hear that clear, sharp tongue of hers. It made me want her back, but she is well cared for and looks just as happy as she did when I had her.

          To all you people that think more than a couple of inches of snow is too deep to hunt in, you do not know what you are missing. You may have to work a little harder to get through the woods, but your dogs won’t care one bit. All they want is to be out of the kennel and in the woods doing what they were bred to do. That is chasing rabbits. Good luck and good hunting. Remember to take a kid out in the woods with you the next time you go.

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).