Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Small Game Saturday

This past Saturday, with deer season over and Christmas and New Year's behind me, I got the opportunity to go rabbit hunting with some good friends. I've never owned any beagles myself, but I have been fortunate enough to have friends that have beagles and don't mind me tagging along. We started out around 9:00 am and the dogs jumped a rabbit within the first few minutes after we got into the briers.
Starting the Hunt
 From there on, it was steady action with the dogs jumping rabbits from all the likely places. For anyone who has never been rabbit hunting, let me say this - a running rabbit presents a pretty good challenge, especially if your shotgun skills are a little rusty like mine were. The last rabbit hunt I had been on was at the end of the season last February, so needless to say I missed more rabbits than I hit. I did manage one rabbit, but missed a few others. Fortunately my hunting companions were better shots than I was that day. In all, our group ended up with 10 rabbits, and there were a few that got away.
Dale with a rabbit
For me, rabbit hunting has always been about the dogs. I enjoy eating fried rabbit about as much as any wild game, but the big draw for me is seeing the beagles work out a trail and listening to their music as they trail a rabbit through the briers and brush. I have often said that if I had more time to work with them, I would like to get some beagles myself. For the present though, I'm thankful that I have friends who invite me to hunt with them. We had a successful morning, and jumped a dozen or so rabbits, along with a covey of quail. I was excited to see the bobwhites, because they have become scarce around home in the last several years.

Luke and Dale
 We had planned to wind up our hunt around 1:00 pm, and by 1:30 or so we had the dogs caught and loaded up. After the usual story telling around the tailgate, it was time to call it a day. My friend Luke and I had decided the day before that after we finished rabbit hunting, there would be plenty of time left in the day to go squirrel hunting for a few hours.
Tired after a day of hunting

Squirrel hunting was my introduction to the sport of hunting, and for several years was the main type of hunting I did. When I was young, there weren't that many deer around home, and there were even less when my Dad was growing up. Dad has never been a deer or turkey hunter, but squirrel, rabbit, and dove hunting were what he grew up doing. He introduced me to these when I was young, and I've never lost my enjoyment of small game hunting. I'm grateful that I was introduced to hunting this way, because squirrel hunting taught me skills that helped me when I decided to try hunting deer and turkeys, patience being among the key lessons.
Gray Squirrel
After everyone left from our rabbit hunt, Luke and I swapped our shotguns for .22 rifles and headed to the woods to see if we could have any success with the squirrels. We managed three in an hour or two of hunting, and it was a fitting end to the day. Then it was time to clean the squirrels and rabbits, and prepare for some good eating down the road. I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday outdoors than with good friends and good dogs. I truly enjoy deer and turkey hunting, but I think that when I have children and the time comes to introduce them to hunting, it will be on a hardwood ridge with a .22 rifle or 20 gauge shotgun and hopefully a tree full of squirrels. I don't know of any better way to pass on the same values and appreciation of hunting and nature that Dad taught me many years ago.

Thanks for stopping by!

- Joseph


  1. What a wonderful hunt. We have two daughters, ages one and three that have shot BB’s at shows and conventions. -Wife had a fit.

    1. Thanks Reverend Fowl! I can see myself doing the same thing someday when we have kids.

  2. Great post.
    I have always enjoyed hunting Maine's snowshoe hare. I have had the opportunity a few times to hunt with beagles and they are such a joy watch and listen to.

    1. Thanks Peter! I have always loved watching beagles, and it amazes me just how well they can keep track of a rabbit. I've only hunted cottontails, but I bet those snowshoe hares are a fun animal to hunt.


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