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Beagle Snuffle

2/6/2004

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Beagle Snuffle and Rutherford County Rabbit Stew

 

The weekend of February 6, 2005, my buddies Bill Booth, Mike Haire and Tom Haire from Rutherford County have invited me to go rabbit hunting.  If you have not been, it may not sound like a lot of fun.  But I have been with this bunch before, and it is cool.  They hunt with some high quality rabbit beagles raised by their friends James, Colon and Larry Saunders of Morganton.   

 

The beagles are cute.  About 10 inches tall, they move slowly but eagerly through the briars patches and brush.  You can follow them by the sound – they go “snuffle, snuffle” as they snort air in and out of their nose trying to smell the rabbit trails.  The rabbits are in little danger from the dogs.  They can hear how slowly the beagles are moving and stay just a few jumps ahead.  When the beagles do get close, then the rabbits will run a few steps and stop again.  

 

When the beagles get on a “hot” trail (just a few seconds old) then they will start to howl and bark louder, which prompts their buddies to home in on the dog with the hottest trail.  It prompts the people to push in closer through the brush and look for the rabbit.  It prompts the rabbit to run for about 30 seconds and then take another breather. 

 

The rabbits get in trouble when they pass a human standing ahead of the beagle pack with a gun who may shoot them.  Usually, the dog owners want the dogs to have practice tracking more than they want to eat rabbit stew.  So, most of the morning is spent hunting and little time blasting rabbits. 

 

But today was different.  It was a gloriously beautiful, sunny day with ice on the ground.  I found one rabbit dead in the middle of a thicket so dense that I had to crawl under briars and virginia creeper brambles.  While holding that rabbit, another bunny hopped into the open and sat not five feet away.  Like the bad guy just before he blew up in the movie Raising Arizona, I struggled to clear my hands of the bunny, unstrap my shotgun from over my shoulder, chamber a round, straighten my hat, wipe the sweat off my glasses, aim and get off a shot before the second rabbit moved.  But it did move.  My shot hit air that was long unoccupied by a bunny.  About 10 seconds later, the report from another hunter’s shotgun signaled its demise.  

 

Most days we kill a couple rabbits.  That day we shot nine.  The dogs kept two for lunch.  The humans kept seven for supper by Mike Haire. 


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