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Special Rabbits

by John Rogers, Jr.


          We all know that to have a rabbit chase you have to have at least one dog and a rabbit. The better the dog or dogs the better the chase, but we, also, need to consider the rabbit. Without the rabbit our sport just wouldn't be the same.

          I know many people will tell you that a good dog can run any rabbit any time and they can , but not always are the chases excellent and some rabbits are more of a challenge than others. Some rabbits have sharper instincts or more intelligence. Just like Beagles all rabbits are not created equally.

          I have run rabbits that would make a long circle and just run back to me and were shot. Then you jump one and he runs and runs and runs. Even without any checks of any length he just keeps running and turning just before he comes to the gun. A rabbit like this knows where all the tough scenting spots are , how to rest and they have very good physical stamina. These are the special rabbits, the rabbits that separate the rabbit dogs from the pack dogs.

          There are many great dogs that have a legendary reputation and are held in high regard. But I have encountered a few rabbits that have earned my respect and an honored place in my memory . It may seem strange to some, but I can remember a couple of rabbits that even earned themselves a name from some of my friends. A rabbit has to be well above average to merit that kind of respect.

          One such rabbit was one I ran very often with my good friend "JC" Teat several years before JC passed away . It was when I still lived in Central about twenty miles down the road . JC had a good place to run behind his house and we had some excellent runs together. Our dogs ran really well together and JC was a good man to talk to and learn from his experiences .

          A good distance across the creek behind JC's house was an old home site that was over grown with some of the sharpest briars on earth and in this thick tangled mess some where you could always jump "Crazy Boy". After running him several times and watching some of the things he did, that is what JC called him and it just stuck .

          That thicket was almost too much for the dogs but they fought it with all they had and lost more than a few drops of blood to the briars. There was an old dirt road that partially circled that rabbit haven and you had run up and down the road to watch the dogs when they came because you couldn't get in there with them without a dozer.

          I have seen that rabbit come out cross the road and just as the last dogs crossed, you could see him cross back several yards down the road and return to thicket. The dogs would come around on his tracks and back into the jungle they would go and he would come out and turn in behind them as if he were the one giving chase. The weather nor temperature never made any difference, he was hard to run .

          We even had a couple of fellows that we worked with come down to show us how a rabbit dog would handle him. They handled him just like our dogs did. One of the fellows even got very upset that his outstanding dog, as he called him, couldn't handle it long.

          Then I moved to Salem in 1976 and I found a rabbit around my house that was a thrill to run. I am not claiming that I can tell one wild rabbit from another, but this one did look a little different . He was long and lanky and when he ran he ran. He wasn't pink and he didn't have a drum but he never quit. There were rabbits around here that ran in the large grown up field to the north of my house or the old briar patch filled pasture to the front or the cut over timber land in the rear, but this rabbit used it all.

          The fox population around here at that time was awful , when it snowed fox tracks were every where any I even had them come and bark at me when the dogs where not around . Running and hiding from the foxes surely made this rabbit tougher and smarter , if not he would have been a meal for one of them . After I moved here the fox population steadily decreased and the rabbit population increased , as it would around any Beagler's home.

          This rabbit would run every where, he used the old logging road, the creek, the pasture, the small swamp and a large bag of tricks to stay alive . He had unusual stamina, speed and intelligence. I was running dogs at that time that were fast and they could run a rabbit until he was worn down and caught, but not this rabbit.

          One of my neighbors, I can't remember which one, called him "Poor Boy" one afternoon when we were running him and so he will always be remembered by that name. It seemed like a couple of years that we had him around and one day he was not here any more . He left behind some very good descendants and I have had some good runs with them but they are not quite as good as he was.

          One day I was running him and my neighbor came out to listen and we were standing in the road smoking (this was many years before I quit burning money) and listening to the dogs coming towards us. They were pushing that rabbit hard and he crossed the road in front of us , stretched out and running hard. After he crossed into the pasture my neighbor said, "That old rabbit is so tough if you fried him you couldn't stick a fork in the gravy."

          One thing I like to do when hunting is to let a real good rabbit live. You can call it good conservation or sportsmanship, but I just hate to shoot a rabbit that does something outstanding. If you are wondering which ones to spare it's the one that makes your dogs prove they are worth what you paid for them and what it costs to feed them, the one that turns and cuts and runs you all over the place trying to get a shot at him.

          There are very few people that will read this that have to depend on the rabbits they kill to feed their families so letting one survive occasionally is not going to hurt them. Let them live and pass that above average instinct on to their offspring.

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).