SPORTS

OUTDOOR CORNER: Louisianians have been known to pass a good time hunting rabbit

Lyle Johnson
Here’s the payoff. A couple of young hunters with a morning harvest of rabbits behind a good pack of beagles.

People in south Louisiana have been known to “pass a good time sha”. That can be translated into a lot of things, even our passion to spend some time in the outdoors and take in some hunting. We’re a sort of social bunch as well so rabbit hunting lends itself to this scenario. 

This is not the case for most types of hunting. In order to take a deer, one must not only be very quiet but what you wear matters much. Camouflage coloring is a minimum but scent can be factored in also. All types of scent masking products find its way into a deer hunter’s bag as well.

Deer hunting is a solitary undertaking unless there’s a youngster factored into the equation. Well, you get the idea.

Duck hunting is not quite as tedious as numbers can run from only a lone hunter up to four or five hunters in a blind. Great lengths are taken to camouflage the blind as well as the humans that are trying to get the ducks within gun range, including face paint. Talking and laughing are allowed until someone sights the ducks and the calling begins.

Rabbit hunting – now sha, a bunch of us can pass a good time. The task of bagging a few rabbits for a gumbo or just smothered down for really nice gravy usually starts long before one reaches the woods. It begins at a meeting place. A local café is a preferred spot where coffee, biscuits and other breakfast foods can be consumed. No need to get in a big hurry as this task usually doesn’t begin until an hour or so after daylight.

Lot’s of loud talking and laughing is the norm as this gang hunts together for most of the season. The hunter (or hunters) that missed the most rabbits on the last hunt is usually the butt of all the jokes and among the crowd is one poor soul that has the reputation for missing a lot. He gets it bad!

A youngster or two is part of this recipe for a great time so the anticipation begins to build and the noise level goes up a few decibels. Lots of bull corn gets passed around as well. Left alone, this crowd would spend the whole day here drinking coffee and socializing but, “Hey, it’s time to go” gets shouted by someone and the entourage begins to move towards the vehicles.

While all this is going, there is a pack of beagles that has been loaded into the back of a truck a little earlier. They’re sort of lounging around but believe me; their anticipation is building as well. Off to the hunting spot we go.

As the group of hunters begin to pile out of vehicles at a pre-determined location, those rabbit dogs come to life. They know something’s about to happen. Although every one of these guys or gals have made the statement, “I’m going rabbit hunting”, that statement is not exactly true. You see, it’s the dogs that do all the hunting. We just take advantage of their skills.

One by one they’re released from the cages and hit the ground. They are very excited about what’s going to happen but they have to “take care of business” from being locked up in those cages while we’re drinking coffee and eating breakfast.

After a couple of minutes, it’s on. Rabbits stay awake at night to do all their eating while avoiding predators, then find a place to “bed up” and sleep the day away. In each pack of dogs is usually what’s called a “jump” dog. This dog’s nose (sense of smell) is very good and sniffs the critters out and they take off running.

Now the rabbit doesn’t know there’s a group of dogs and humans trying their best to harvest some of the best tasting game around, they just know something’s up and instinct kicks in. They have lots of tactics in their bag of tricks to try and lose anything that’s chasing them.

One of the best is running for a while and then stopping. The dogs are no match for speed against the rabbit, so it gets ahead and stops. The dogs overrun the rabbit and it takes off in the opposite direction. Water is another method of escape. The scent is dispersed as the rabbit swims and the dogs can’t pick up the smell as well.

Like I said a little earlier, the dogs do most of the hunting. The “hunters” try to position themselves where the rabbit might run to avoid the dogs. The more participants you have, the better the chance of getting a shot or two before the rabbit outsmarts the dogs.

Dogs love encouragement so lot’s of hooping and hollering goes on while the dogs are barking on the trail. Noise is very acceptable during a rabbit hunt. Shots are fired and questions are asked.

“Did you get ‘em?” “Yeah, I got ‘em” could be heard but sometimes “I missed ‘em, look out, he’ coming your way” is the answer. More good hearted ribbing takes place during the hunt.

Occasionally during the hunt there’s a gourmet chef back where the vehicles are cooking up lunch that consists of some rabbits taken on an earlier hunt. The dogs are put away and are sleeping after a morning’s workout doing their favorite thing in life.

More laughing and joking takes place and I can see myself now with a hot bowl of gumbo or a plate of sauce piquant and soaking it all in. Man. This worth the price of admission and makes me want to take in a rabbit hunt really soon. Any offers? Remember to keep the slack out, set the hook hard and maybe take in a rabbit hunt. So until next time have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you.