A Middle of the Day, Windy Hunt!

Rabbit Hunter, Feb 2012I’ve never been a fan of rabbit hunting in the wind. In fact, I avoid it like the plague. It’s hard to hear anything, whether it’s the dogs, the rabbit or both. Rabbits hold tighter and are harder to jump, and if being run, the scent blows around too much.

After working all week and longing to stretch the old legs and hearing some hounds, one makes some decisions whether to hunt or stay home, and I said, “Hunt!”

It was Saturday, November 19, 2011. It was very windy at 7 AM with gusts up to 28 mph. Then I said, “No way!” Even one of our hunting buddies cancelled and said, “Sorry!”

By noon the constant wind had died down some and present wind gusts were tolerable. I told my son Devon we’d try it. We decided to hunt a place two miles from our house. This place had some fields that where grown up and thick. On top of that there was a woods surrounding these fields with a creek.

We got our stuff and the dogs loaded in the truck and headed for a middle-of-the-day, windy hunt. To be honest, I didn’t think we would do any good. I didn’t think we would jump any let alone be able to run them. Once again the dogs proved me wrong. We took all four of our running dogs: Blazer, Bull, Elvira and Mia.

Arriving at our destination, we loaded the guns and leashed the dogs. We talked to the landowner for a minute then proceded to put the dogs in a field. Devon took the side closer to the woodline and I stayed on the path that ran right smack dab through the middle of the place. There were fields on both sides so we started on the left side. The dogs were hunting good and they hunted through the field slowly and methodically.

There was an old pond with some honeysuckle and briars around it so I decided to walk around it and see if I could jump anything. I walked up to the edge of the pond and kicked the first cover I came to which was a honeysuckle briar patch.

Although small in size and thickness, a cottontail burst out of it and headed away from me and around the edge of the pond and into the field. I hollered to Devon saying, “I just jumped one.” I tally-ho’d the dogs on it and the chase was on. After listening to the dogs run this rabbit for a few minutes, I walked back to the path that separated the property. They headed down the edge of the field and hushed. By then Devon joined me and we thought that the rabbit had holed. We waited for five minutes when all of a sudden Elvira came up with the check.

The dogs ran through the field, onto the path and across it to the field on the other side. They were doing a good job on him. They crossed the open path just fine. They had one big check which Elvira got and headed towards the woods then they cut back towards us. They kept coming closer and we kept watching.

I figured he would try to cross back and I was right. The dogs got right in front of me running along the edge of the field. I kept looking down where he crossed the first time. My young male got a good check right across from me and I looked over at Devon and then looked back down the path and here he came. He was running so I threw up the 20 gauge Mossberg and shot and he rolled. What a run and a shot! I couldn’t believe I hit him. It was an instant shot and I connected.

We walked to where the dogs had come out on his track. He was a nice sized rabbit. It should make a great meal. We praised the dogs and I was proud of them for running him as well as they did in this wind. I was proud of Elvira for coming up with a couple hard checks to keep him going.

We decided to hunt over the hill to a couple fields at the bottom where it was flat. As we walked over the small hill, we were able to see both fields with tall ground cover. The other was a mixture of cover and it looked a lot better so we decided to try there. Luckily, this field had one path going down it closer to the creek side. It was big and thick and going to be hard to take one.

I took the path and Devon walked into the field and found an area good enough to walk through. The dogs were hunting between us and we were 30 yards apart. As we were walking along, Elvira was hunting 10 yards from me and I saw a rabbit take off across the path to the creek side of the field into the cover. She jumped it but didn’t know it for a minute or two. I tally-ho’d the dogs and she finally smelled where it took off.  I showed them where it went and the race was on.

To make a long story short, they ran this rabbit for two or three long circles. After an hour run, the rabbit hopped out onto the path I had been on. The rabbit hopped out and sat down.

Devon made a great 30 yard shot to end this chase which was the longest of the year for us. Once again the dogs proved me wrong by jumping one and running two big rabbits in the wind. We praised them a lot and headed back to the truck. I was glad we came after all. Until next time, keep ‘em running.

By Jon Cornett, jwcbunnyrun@yahoo.com