February 21, 2002

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

I finally have realized that there must be something about me that dogs do not like. Fortunately I have never been attacked by any canines but as far as me and hunting dogs are concerned we just seem not to mix.

Always before I just assumed it was my dogs and my lack of training and hunting time for man's best friend. However the last two trips I made I went with other hunters who I know have spent tremendous time and effort in putting the best dogs in the field for the hunt.

This will also shed a little light on my insistent whining that I never get to go hunting anymore, because when I say the last two times I went, I have to go back about three months to get to the first of these examples.

Bird dogs are an interesting sort, and unless you have ever been out for a day with an English setter or a far ranging pointer of some sort, you may not appreciate this then. A few months ago I got together with a buddy who was itching to get his dogs some more work. They had been out a few times early in the year and were ready for field trials by his description.

Of course when I got together with these two masters my voodoo or jinx or whatever took effect. They found roughly half the birds that we put out (this was one of those types of hunts since I have given up wasting my time on the wild flyers) and quite simply had a rough go of it. Of course it did not help that the wind was blowing 50 mph and it had just rained about two inches on us. It was a rough day all around, and by no means did I fault the dogs. Actually I felt they had done quite well compared to how my three canines had performed over Christmas vacation. Of course if they stay with you all day and hunt at least 75 percent of the time while not eating any of the birds they actually do find, then they've done better than Lake and his posse.

I could have just chalked it up to bad timing but when I went out on this past Friday, the final day of rabbit season, and I ruined a perfectly good hunt with one of the best beagle kennels you will find in the nation, I knew it had to be something about me.

The jinx thing was in the back of my mind as we started the morning off, but when the hounds quickly got on a run it cleared my conscience. If you have never before had the opportunity to experience rabbit hunting with Beagles, it is a sight to see. Those little noses running snug to the ground as they dogs line out behind the scent and bellow out each time they get a snout full of the rabbit. That in itself made the day worth while for me.

Of course my dog problems took over from there. My lack of rabbit hunting experience started the problem. I'm surprised they didn't start calling me Elmer Fudd after I let Bugs Bunny get away twice. Anyway, after the first run finally came to an end, we marched off to the next hunting spot. The dogs quickly got on the trail. Unfortunately we were unable to determine on the trail of what as they marched about six miles to the other end of the Indian Hills Conservation Area. An hour and a half later we caught up with the apologetic culprits. I honestly believe the dog handler when he said he did not know what to say, because that had never happened to him in all his years working with Beagles. I quickly shrugged it off and told him not to worry I was used to it. The rest of the morning was filled with a couple more exciting rabbit runs with the dogs performing at top notch. I just hope that I get invited back to go again, because I'm pretty sure I have convinced a few of my hunting partners that I'm not a good influence on their dogs.

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