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Rabbit Hunting The Peach Orchard

by Douglas Whitehead

          Recently an old friend Bill Wilson called me up to talk about hunting. He said, "Would you be interested in rabbit hunting at my uncle's farm?" I said, "Yes, of course, I would." Bill said, "I'll give him a call and see if he will give you a permit to hunt his land." A few days later Bill called back. "It's all taken care of. My uncle said you can come out any time." I asked, "Do you think he will care if Mike, John and Braxton come with me?" "No," Bill replied, "He won't care at all. In fact, he wants to hunt with you."

          So I got directions and made plans for the upcoming Saturday. The directions I got were not as clear as I thought. We ended up knocking on the door of the wrong farmhouse at 6:30 a.m., waking up some old farmer. After that mishap, we drove up and down two or three old country roads for another thirty minutes, then finally we reached Farmer Wilson's house. An elderly gentlemen that appeared to be at least in his 90's sporting an old double barrel shotgun greeted us. At that point we were a little hesitant about getting out. Braxton, who was setting on my right, which placed him between the old man and me, said, "If he starts shooting, I'm ducking so the shots hit you!" Right about that time the old man threw up his hand and waived saying, "Ya'll get out." We knew then that we were in the right place. So we got out and introduced ourselves. He said, "Just pull the truck on down by the barn and I'll be there in a minute."

          The barn was located next to a 50 to 60 acre peach orchard and pasture. The outskirts of this orchard and pasture was lots of thick undergrowth and briars. As soon as Mr. Wilson walked from his house to the barn, Mike turned the six Beagles loose. Before any of us could get our guns loaded a Beagle struck on a rabbit and away they went. Being that the Beagles struck so quickly I only had time to load two of the four shells I normally load. As we all spread out by the edge of the briar patch, I decided to stay close by where the hounds had jumped the rabbit. And just as I thought, the rabbit ran a large circle and was headed back to me. I positioned myself next to an old barbed-wire fence where a tree had grown around the wire. I could tell by the pitch of the Beagles' barks that they were hot on that rabbit's heels and that they were headed my way.  The rabbit suddenly appeared. It was a big swamp rabbit. He received the first shot from my shotgun and went down. And just as sudden he was up again. I fired my second and last round from my gun. He was down this time and for good. I had to get to the rabbit before the Beagles did, so I leaned my shotgun against the old tree. I hurried over the barbed-wire fence and in doing so caught the seat of my brand new brush pants. Rip they went, but I beat the Beagles to the downed rabbit. I retrieved the rabbit and jumped over the fence to get my gun. Since I was near the truck, I decided to put the rabbit in the back of it.

          By the time I got back to the truck the hounds had struck another rabbit. I thought I should go back to the same spot I was at before, I did so, and sure enough, it was the right spot to be in. I saw the rabbit easing out of a brush pile. This time I was waiting for the rabbit to go under the barbed-wire fence and as soon as he did, I blasted him.

          After that we got the dogs and worked our way on up the edge of the peach orchard. We came upon a large pile of old peach trees that had been bulldozed down and stacked up. Once we reached this the Beagles began to pick up the sent of a rabbit and within seconds the Beagles were all over that stack of old peach trees. Three of the Beagles, Copper, Brownie and Rose had worked their way on down into the stack, all along, barking and yelping. This went on for a good twenty minutes or so. Ole Mr. Rabbit slipped out the unguarded side before the dogs knew he was gone.

          Mr.Wilson suggested that we move the hounds to the other end of the orchard where there was a thick briar patch. He figured this would provide better hunting. As soon as we reached this briar patch Copper let out a passionate scream on a fresh track. Either Cricket or Willie a two year old male beagle jumped that rabbit. When the other dogs saw this they all joined in and off they went. Mike saw the rabbit first and got off a quick shot, but too bad, Mike missed. He then yells, "Doug, he's headed right at you!" I can see the rabbit running under and through the briars. I take careful aim, but my first shot misses. A quickly follow-up with another blast and I end up wounding the rabbit in the hind quarters. The wounded rabbit slipped past John and Braxton. At this time the hounds are hot on him and closing in. Terry Smith, a fellow who sometimes hunts with us, was just down past John about forty yards or so. Terry gets a good look at the wounded rabbit and with one shot from his .410 gauge shotgun, it was all over. Within thirty minutes we had killed two more nice bunnies out of this briar patch.

          We had a good productive hunt that morning and decided to call it a day. Besides I needed to get back and get the wife to sew up the seat of my pants since I had another rabbit hunt planned for the next day in another county.

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).