A police detective usually needs forensic evidence to piece together a case, but a wildlife sleuth only needs a good snow. Last week, I discovered a life had been taken. All the evidence was laid out before me.
It was not the best afternoon to go rabbit hunting, but Daisy and I had cabin fever. She lunged at the leash when I asked if she would like to go get a rabbit.
We went to a CRP creek bottom with a north-facing rolling hillside. The snow was heavier than I had anticipated and the rabbit tracks few.
Daisy got the action going on the hillside. Rabbits are reluctant to leave cover when the snow is high, but it finally busted out of a briar-filled ravine and stopped in front of me.
I was coming off the hillside when I saw a deer track mingled with coyote tracks. The tracks were in a straight line that indicated a chase. At the bottom, there was the hide of the deer. It was in one piece like someone had skinned it with a knife. About 30 yards farther was the carcass of a young doe totally void of any flesh.
My beagle jumped another rabbit in a small patch of briars. I watched the cottontail move just ahead of the dog not wanting to leave safety. Finally the bunny headed across the lane, I shot behind it.
The chase continued through the fence to an adjoining property where the safety of a brush pile awaited the cottontail.
I tried to call Daisy off, but she was going to work that sanctuary. I turned to go back to the briars. Shortly, I heard the excitement of a hound sight-chasing its prey. The rabbit headed back to the original cover, but a load of No. 5 shot stopped it short. That ended the outing, giving the hunter and dog some much needed time in the woods.
My next hunt was Monday with Dave Schlabach and Brittany Contreraz. Walking was not a problem, but hitting the target was. Fourteen-year-old Brittany has been learning to shoot, and this would be her first opportunity to harvest game.
This one rabbit must have been wearing body armor. Daisy kept running it around, and we kept missing.
"Those rabbits are really fast," proclaimed Brittany.
I pulled out an old saying that a young person would not understand.
I said, "I couldn't hit a bull in the (rump) with a base fiddle."
When we walked up to Dave, he said, "Bramwell. You couldn't hit a bull in the posterior (or something similar) with a base fiddle."
Brittany smiled and must have thought, "These old fellows are way beyond my understanding."
Brittany's mother had given me permission to take her hunting even though Brit was in a little hot water. I told her, as punishment, I was instructed to throw her in the briar patch and kick snow in her face. Later I said, "It is time to go home and face the music."