Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Hopping Adventure

During the early 1970s as I recall four of us went hunting on a fine, bright, sunny, yet crisp, frosty, Sunday morning.  There was my wife’s sister’s husband Ronnie, my wife’s brother Wendell, my brother Bob, and myself.  There may have been others, but I don’t recall them.
We opened the gate to my beagle pen, and let them run around the yard for a minute or two as they tuned their voices for what they knew was to come.  Soon we climbed into my old Jeep and headed for the cedar swamp back of the hay field.  The beagles trailed along behind, with a few side trips to investigate odors that took their fancy.
Soon the hounds were in the swamp locating that first varying hare, or as we called ‘em, snowshoes.  It was but a matter of minutes before my Sue opened with a yelp to let us know she had one moving.
As the chase moved away we heard the other beagles chime in, one at a time, bugles ringing in the clear frosty winter air.  The sound always made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.  It is why I hunted.  I didn’t need rabbit stew more than a couple of times a year, but I needed to hear them beagles in full pursuit of their elusive long eared prey.
Soon from a distance we could hear the beagles make a swing and start the return circle back in the general direction whence they started.  As they got nearer we took up our favorite stands, hoping the snowshoe would go by us rather than dip a bit to run in front of one of the others.  Shotguns were loaded and at the ready, as we awaited the hard running rabbit.  We knew it was well ahead of the baying hounds so it must have been near.
Suddenly, bang, bang,…bang, bang,…bang, over in Wendy’s direction.  “Damn, Wendy, how many of ‘em did you get?”
“Uh, none, he was really running!”
“For Christ’s sake, how could you miss five times in that little bit of a time?”
“I was practicing my speed!  I’m going to work on my accuracy later!”

I miss you Wendell Compo.  1944-1985  RIP

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