That dog had a nose for rabbits

Published 7:41 am Friday, November 26, 2010

Welcome back, outdoor people.

Let me start by reminding everyone that my e-mail address has changed to

I have been writing this column for nearly two months now — during some of the best time of the year for outdoors men — and I have heard from only a few. I know you’re out there, so let’s make this page work for you.

I have seen and heard about many trophy-class bucks being taken this year, but unfortunately for me, I am not allowed to tell their stories; it’s all hush hush and I know you know what I mean. Well, when my 16-year-old twins Robert and/or David connect with one of these monsters, I will have something to talk about.

Until then, I’d like to give you another story about my mentor, my Grandfather, and a special Lady.

His name was Horace. He was born 100 years ago this year, and he worked hard all his life. He started out farming and then worked in the coal mines of Pennsylvania, eventually owning a mine. He would tell stories about living off venison during the Great Depression and of his favorite pastime — running rabbits in the fields.

When I was old enough to hunt, he brought me a beagle puppy that I named Lady. All my dogs until then had been named Lady, so it was the only choice.

He told me when she was old enough, all I had to do was kick out a rabbit and stick her nose down on the spot the rabbit had been sitting, and she would know what to do from there. Of course, I just could not believe that, and I think I frustrated him with my questions about it.

When Lady was about 6 months old, acting only so I could tell him I did what he said, I kicked out a rabbit and stuck her nose on the spot. Much to my disbelief, she ran that first rabbit back to me in about 15 minutes. I was hooked.

Lady and I would hit the fields every chance we had. We became best friends for life. I sure have a lot of stories about that dog and I still miss her today. There could never be another Lady.

Meanwhile, I had gained a reputation with my Grandfather of shooting up rabbits. It all had stemmed from the first rabbit I shot at. He would say that if the gun had three shells in it, and I saw a rabbit, I would need three more shells right afterwards.

One year, on opening day, I took three shots in about 10 seconds, and I could hear my Grandfather cussing through the underbrush. Lady had been on a woods rabbit for about 20 minutes. As a side note, woods rabbits run further than field rabbits.

At the same time, both my Grandfather and I were becoming bored with just standing there. Both of us began walking around, he kicked one out and it came right at me — boom.

I went to get it and I kicked one out — boom. Just then Lady let out a howl only 25 or 30 yards away and — boom. This time, I had three rabbits for my efforts.

My Grandfather told that story for the rest of his life; I miss him.