Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rabbit Hunt

Today I took my daughters, 5 and 3, to my parents' to look for rabbits. We also brought Chloe, one of our two beagles. It was a beautiful day, much warmer than the previous two days. The sky was clear and the sun shone brightly. We waded through patches of tall grass between the garden and the orchard. A big cottontail jumped up and ran past us, but my shotgun was hanging by the sling on my shoulder. My left hand gripped by my 3-year-old's mitten, all I could do was point and ask, "Girls, did you see that rabbit?"

Chloe found the scent of the rabbit, and followed the trail into the brush. She quickly lost the scent and returned to us, though. It didn't take long before the girls lost interest in rabbit hunting, and wanted to go inside Grandma's house. They were quiet most of the time, so I think they learned a little from the experience.

After helping the girls out of their boots, coats, and bibs, I returned to the field with Chloe. We kicked up a rabbit in the same patch of tall grass, but I missed it by a foot. The bunny decided to run for it just as I was removing my right glove to remove a burr. Chloe was unable to find the rabbit's scent trail, and instead followed the first rabbit's trail again.

We worked the field for about an hour before Chloe found another scent trail. I found a good vantage point and waited for a rabbit to run by. Once again, Chloe returned without a rabbit running ahead of her. We checked one last area, a spot where we had found many a bunny in the past. Chloe picked up a scent, and began baying. I found a spot where I thought the rabbit might run, and waited. After a few minutes, a brown shape emerged from the brush, hopping into the shorter grass. I aimed carefully, and pulled the trigger. The rabbit moved no more, the shot dispatching him effectively.

I brought my prize back to the house, and the girls admired its soft fur. Later, my older daughter watched as I skinned and butchered the rabbit for today's supper. This hunt has softened my heart towards Chloe, with whom I have a love/hate relationship. She pushed the rabbit to the waiting hunter perfectly, which she has done occasionally over the years. It's easy to focus on her vindictive messes when she doesn't get enough attention, or hunts where she seems oblivious to the presence of rabbits. Overall, she's a good dog, even if she is a bit too "alpha" at times.

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