John's Journal...

Games Rabbits Play

More on Hunting the Gallberry Thicket Rabbit

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: February is a productive month for rabbit hunting, and much of the country allows small-game hunting then. There are some rabbits that will run a full circle when the beagle dogs get after them and come right into shotgun range – running out into a clearing or go 15 to 20 yards and stop – presenting an easy, simple shot. But, another type of rabbit seems to have supernatural powers to confuse, frustrate, and aggravate even the best of hunters.

On Friday morning, after a frustrating hunt earlier that week, we started the beagles in on the gallberry thicket. The dogs jumped the Gallberry Thicket Rabbit. The race began. But this time, the rabbit made two complete circles. He was out on the other side of the thicket beginning the third circle when I looked at my watch and noticed the time was 7:40 am. “Are we going to stay here and take the rabbit, or are we going to class?” I asked my professor. “Oh, I don’t beliClick to enlargeeve our being 5-minutes late will hurt,” the professor answered. “Let’s wait and kill take rabbit.” When the rabbit came around the edge of the thicket, the professor shot. However, the rabbit didn’t stop. The time was 7:55 am. We grabbed-up the dogs and headed for college. By this time we arrived at class, the students were mumbling among themselves, hoping the professor wouldn’t show-up. He explained by saying, “I was unavoidably detained.”

Since Saturdays primarily were deer-hunting days in our county, we didn’t go after the Gallberry Thicket Rabbit until the following Wednesday. In our early morning pre-hunt conference before first light, we laid our game plan while drinking coffee. My professor led the discussion with, “I believe that to kill that rabbit, John, we’ll have to get into that thicket with him. When the dogs start bringing him around the first time, we’ll have to be inside that thicket waiting on him. And, getting him will take some close shooting. However, I think we can take him, if we listen for him to come through the thicket, and if we’re ready. I don’t intend to be late again this morning for class.” College professors are touted to be highly intelligent, or else they wouldn’t be college professors. So, I knew this game plan had to work. Click to enlarge

Sure enough, we put the dogs in the area where the rabbit had been showing up. They jumped the cottontail. The race was on, and the professor was out in front of me about 75 yards in the thicket that was about 30-yards wide and 100 yards or so long. The bushes and shrubs were more than head high. But, there was very-little underbrush in the thicket, so a hunter in the thicket could see from 10 to 20 yards. I heard the dogs coming back around and assumed that the rabbit should be about 30- to 50-yards ahead of the dogs. Then all of a sudden there was a bang! bang! bang! “Get him, John,” my professor yelled at me. “That rabbit is coming right at you.” I was sitting on ready. Off in the distance I saw movement. As I mounted the gun, the rabbit turned sideways in reaction to my movement. And just as I fired, he went over a small ridge. I spotted his white tail between the ground and a log. I fired again, and the dirt flew. Then the rabbit was gone.Click to enlarge “Did you get him, John?” the professor sang out with great anticipation in his voice. Regretfully, I answered, “No, sir, I missed him.” The dogs brought that same Gallberry Thicket Rabbit around two more times that morning, but we never saw him. Once again, we were late for school. When we got to class this time, we were 25-minutes late. All of the other students had left.

Although we let the Gallberry Thicket Rabbit rest for the next 2 or 3 weeks, we went ahead and took other rabbits that weren’t nearly as difficult to hunt. Then we decided to try the Gallberry Thicket Rabbit one more time. This time when we were inside the thicket, the rabbit moved to the outside of the thicket and ran around it. When we moved outside, the rabbit moved inside. After the third time of being late to class, we decided that the Gallberry Thicket Rabbit could have his thicket. We would leave him undisturbed. I’ve often wondered if that rabbit knew the professor and I had to be at the college at 8 am. He always strung out a race, so that we either would have to pull the dogs off him to get back to school on time, or we would have to be late and would be so busy watching our watches that we weren’t paying close attention to our hunting.

Tomorrow: Why We Hunted the Railroad Track Rabbit

Check back each day this week for more about "Games Rabbits Play"

Day 1: Rabbits That Confuse, Frustrate and Aggravate
Day 2: The Gallberry Thicket Rabbit
Day 3: More on Hunting the Gallberry Thicket Rabbit
Day 4: Why We Hunted the Railroad Track Rabbit
Day 5: Swampers – Wired for Mischief


Entry 546, Day 3