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Early Winter Hunt

December 5th, 2010

Early Winter Hunt

It’s the first weekend in December, 2010, and the snow is flying already.  Light dustings and flurries are coming down sporadically throughout each day as the lake-effect snow makes it’s way across the state from Lake Michigan.  Choosing a weather slot can be a very quick decision, knowing that the weather can turn at any moment. The calendar may not be past December 21st, but the weather sure says it’s winter out there.  So, on Saturday, with the wind blowing and the grey skies threatening more snow at any moment, I took Tahoe out to the field with a friend to walk through a nice field for some rabbits.

Our hunt started out briskly with the wind cutting through my jacket and the occasional snowflake brushing against my hat on it’s way down to the ground.  A few bushes and brush piles later, we had our first rabbit on the run.  The rabbit bolted from the safety of a hollow log and Tahoe was in pursuit.  She took a dive after the rabbit while it flushed towards her.  She missed, and the rabbit was lost in the high grass.  I think he found a nice hole to crawl into under one of the logs, but I couldn’t track it well enough to know where it went.  Then, Tahoe did something she’d not done before; she took off from the ground, and began to fly over the field, with a slow, steady soar.  She moved slowly, looking at the ground carefully, and then after a moment came back to take a perch high in the oak tree.  Chalk one up to the rabbits.

A few steps later in the next row of trees, I was charging the brush ferociously.  It was deep cover and the vines were tight;  I plowed through it anyway, hoping another rabbit would flush.  What happened next was quite unexpected.  A female Pheasant bolted from the brush with a cackle and took off quickly across the meadow.  The pheasant put on it’s after-burners once over the tall grasses.  Tahoe took from her perch in pursuit, but quickly gave up halfway across the meadow.  She ended up in a lone cottonwood tree in the middle of the meadow.  I called her back and we resumed hunting.

A few minutes later, after crashing through some thick underbrush, I circled around a large log pile and flushed another bunny.  The bunny made it around to the far side just as Tahoe did a spectacular wing-over and crashed the log pile.  She came up short with no rabbit in her clutches.  Another tough flush with no results.  The remainder of the afternoon produced two mice with Tahoe clutching for choice tid-bits and no other flushes, save for the deer that I put out in the middle of the meadow. Conclusion to this afternoon’s hunt is wonderful;  I ended up with two new hunting spots and Tahoe had a successful afternoon, even if measured by two mice.  Game is game and if she caught her own meal, the more successful she feels.   I’ll enjoy the success as well, even if it isn’t a bunny or a squirrel or a pheasant.

Good hunting!

* Picture above courtesy of T. Perez, 2010.

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