“Is this Dana Carter?” I asked. When he confirmed his identity, I informed him that he had just won a guided rabbit hunt. You could hear the excitement on the other end as he asked the where and when of the hunt.
Dana’s name was drawn from among a number of people who purchased raffle tickets at the Mid-Georgia Beagle Club booth during GON’s Outdoor Blast last August in Macon.
This was our club’s second year of participating in the Outdoor Blast. We had decided to raffle off a beagle puppy, but we needed something else. After some discussion, we decided on a guided rabbit hunt with hounds.
Dana’s winning hunt took place on Feb. 22, 2009. Dana informed me that his wife, Gina, his 19-year-old daughter, Chelsea, and 16-year-old son, Shane, would also be participating. Chelsea’s boyfriend, Tom Amidia, would also hunt. After we made arrangements, I contacted our guides, Scott King and Jeremy Adams, to coordinate the hunt.
I quickly learned that this is a family of hunters and outdoors enthusiasts. Dana is a firefighter in Port Orange, Fla. and has hunted for years.
Gina is a nurse in the intensive-care ward at the local hospital who has a 10-point buck, a hog and a coyote to her credit.
Chelsea is in her second year of studies and aspires to become a registered nurse. I also learned that Chelsea loves to hunt and has already killed a doe and an 8-point buck.
Shane is in the 10th grade and said he plans on going to college. While he currently has no idea what his major will be, he has already compiled a nice record for taking deer. Thus far Shane has a 10-pointer, two 7-pointers and a 6-pointer, plus a number of smaller deer.
Tom is a few years away from getting a degree in aeronautical engineering and had never hunted before.
Except for Dana, none of the hunters had ever been rabbit hunting, much less rabbit hunting with hounds.
At this point, I would be remiss if I didn’t introduce the real heroes of the hunt, the hounds! From Jeremy’s kennel, we had Tattoo, Katie, Mickey and Lilly. Scott had two of his hounds: Poke Mon and Raven. These hounds proved their ability over and over as the hunt went on. What an outstanding pack of hounds.
Feb. 22 finally arrived, and we hunted outside Social Circle. We met with Blake Miller, the property’s caretaker, and the hunt got under way.
Everyone was excited and anticipating a great day. The day started out cold and windy, but it didn’t take long for the hounds to get the first rabbit up and running. These rabbits had been run before and knew a few tricks, but the hounds had a few tricks of their own. The rabbit did a good job of evading the hunters by circling just out of sight, but after a few minutes he made a mistake, and Shane killed his first rabbit ever. After pictures were taken, we were quickly on another rabbit.
The hounds didn’t waste much time between rabbits. They would circle until they came to the location where the rabbit was killed, smell the rabbit and then would go off to look for another one.
Our main objectives were to ensure everyone’s safety, the hound’s safety, and then to make sure our guests had a good time and all got a chance to shoot a rabbit. Judging by the look on Shane’s face, we were succeeding. It wasn’t long before a second rabbit was up and running, and even though we saw it a couple of times, the hounds lost it after a 45-minute race.
Our third rabbit took the hounds on a short-lived, 15-minute run before Jeremy killed it with his second shot.
The fourth rabbit ran for 20 minutes before he was able to lose the hounds.
Our fifth rabbit made a 10-minute run before Dana rolled it as it tried to cross the road after almost running under the trucks and over Dana.
The sixth rabbit turned out to be the highlight of the day. We had been trying really hard to get Chelsea into position to shoot a rabbit, but it seemed that every time we moved her into a choice position, the rabbit would choose another route. After a considerable run, which included a couple of trips across the road, we decided to take Chelsea up a path where we expected the rabbit to cross.
Shortly after I heard a shot and turned to see Chelsea pump her hand in victory. She had her first rabbit. On closer examination, we found that she made a perfect head shot. In fact her shot was so perfect that the rabbit lost its head — literally. Chelsea was so excited about killing her first rabbit that she was laughing and shaking at the same time.
The hounds jumped the seventh rabbit of the day, and we had a good race going. A few minutes later we heard three shots, followed by a fourth shot about a minute later. The first three shots turned out to be Tom, who thought he had missed the rabbit completely until Scott came out carrying a dead rabbit. It seemed Tom slowed the rabbit down, so Scott could get what was essentially a standing shot.
As it turned out, this was one of the best rabbit hunts I’ve ever been on. After some pictures and some warm exchanges of farewells, we parted company. They left, but not without leaving us with a lot of fond memories of a wonderful group of folks and a great day in the field.
This hunt will always hold a special place in my rabbit-hunting memories, not just because the rabbits ran well and the hounds did a terrific job, but especially because of those we shared the hunt with. The Carter family proved to be an awesome group of folks, the kind you enjoy being around and hope you get to know better. It was a real pleasure to act as the host for this family and to share in the excitement of seeing the young folks get their first rabbits behind hounds. This is just another instance that proves it’s not the quantity of the hunt, but rather it’s the quality of the hunt that counts.
All this was made possible because of our participation in GON’s Outdoor Blast in Macon. I am not sure what we will do this year or what we will raffle, but if you want to find out, come to the Macon Centreplex Aug. 7-9, 2009.
You’ll find us there, and maybe it will be your turn to win a beagle puppy, a guided hunt or some other worthwhile prize. We would like to thank GON for the opportunity to participate in this event. It has been a lot of fun; we have met some very nice people along the way and have enjoyed spinning tales about hunts past and those yet to come.