Beagle Snuffle and Rutherford County Rabbit
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
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
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.