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Running Springtime Hares

by Derrick Tappin

          We decided to go out and run some springtime hares in early April. All the hounds were in tip top shape from running all winter, and the weather was beautifully mild with almost all of the snow now melted away. I was hunting with a friend, named Les Johnson, who also owns a hunting Beagle that is just starting out. We had four of my hounds loaded into the boxes and also Les' hound Sady .Out of the five hounds there was a hound that was only 5 months old and I got him from a friend in Indiana named Tom Rusinak. This hound is from the Boldstroke bloodline. I was taking him out to get him started - his name is Popeye.

         

         We finally got to a spot where the trees were thick and the ground was kind of swampy from all the spring snow melt. It made for pretty good running/tracking conditions for dogs. We released the hounds and they were off and running. The little hound Popeye that was only 5 months old at the time, ran off with the others and seemed to be real interested in what was going on - there's nothing worse than a hound that sits at your feet.

          Les and I proceeded to walk a little way down a tree cut line so we could wait to see the hounds as they came across the clearing. Well, it wasn't long before the hounds opened up. It was a hard running hare, and the hounds were hot on his trail. You can always tell when they get one up, and they are sight chasing it because the hounds get much more vocal and really move after them at a much faster pace. To me that's one great reason for running hares in the springtime. Usually the does are having their young ones and the bucks are the only hares that are still out and about. As most Beaglers already know, when you run in the springtime you are mostly running bucks, and man oh man do they leave the country. But, on the other hand, they are the best training tool for young hounds, and a great polishing tool for older broke hounds.

          Well, the hounds got a hare up and were running it real hard. This buck ran in a straight line for about a half mile before it even turned to make a circle, but I could tell these hounds were right with him. They were really kicking in the afterburners and trying their hardest to catch him. When this particular hare ran across the line and we saw him, we couldn't believe how massive he was. I thought he was about 10 to 12 pounds or at least that's what he looked like from a far. I guess the only way to find out his size for sure, was I would have to shoot him, or at least try and shoot him. I let the hounds take him around one more time and they all did just that, but I think that this hare had a whole different game plan in mind. He made a much wider circle the second time around, and the dogs went to the very edge of my hearing range. About two hours past and they still had not come back around, but I could here them getting closer and closer all the time. By the time they came back it must have been almost three hours, and the hounds were still on him and tonguing like crazy.

          WOW, this pack was really hot on his heals. He crossed the line then he came back over it again just after being on the one side for only a few feet, then he crossed the line again. It looked to me like this big fellow was criss-crossing the tree cut to throw the hounds off. What a smart, old hare! Well, I thought for sure they would be forever on this check, but to my surprise the Boldstroke hound, the little puppy 'Popeye', was the leader and he was right on the money. WOW, I sure got a cheek-to-cheek grin on my face when I saw this young pup work out that check. Just as that hare came out about 10 feet towards me, I took him down with a single shotgun blast. I left the hare laying right on the line so Popeye could account for him.

          Just a bit earlier, I was telling my buddy Les that I bet he will probably try and eat it, and sure enough when he got up to it he was not letting it go. He was walking around just as proud as could be with this huge hare sticking out of his mouth. I then took it away from him  and sent him on his way. But Popeye was not going anywhere! He wanted that hare that I put up in the tree so badly, the he just sat there and kept staring up at it as if he had treed it. Finally, the other hounds got another hare up and running and that's all it took for him to take off again. Quickly, he caught up to the pack and was running with them.

          Running springtime hares are one of the best ways to determine if your hounds have what it takes to become a solid, hard-driving, hare hound . I want to tell all the Beaglers out there that if you have access to run some hares in the springtime,  then you should do so. Do it, especially for those young hounds who need more polishing and training. This is also a great way to see if any of your hounds in question (older or young ones) have what it takes to keep after one of these springtime, buck hares. Till next time,  happy hunting, good running, and wishing you great success with your Beagle training!

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