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Rick Bramwell

There have been times when absolutely nothing will go your way. On a day when Bob May and I had all afternoon to hunt rabbits, time became crucial and everything went wrong.

We began hunting a farm with CRP oak saplings in a big creek bottom and a long hillside that should have been ripe with bunnies, considering the bottom was wet.

I directed Bob to go to the far end of a thick patch of briars. Once he was in position, I turned the dog loose. As Tramp was picking his way through the matted thorns, he let out one little yelp. This is something he often does when cold tracking a rabbit where there is just a faint scent.

When the dog exited the cover, Bob yelled, “Your dog is limping.”

May held the little beagle while I looked for a thorn in his foot. I could find nothing in his right hind paw, the one he would not put weight on.

Bob carried Tramp and I hauled the guns back to the truck. We put the dog in the covered bed of the truck and tried to jump a rabbit without canine assistance.

The bottom was indeed pretty soggy, so we took to the hillside. Unfortunately, the slope was exposed to a strong northwest wind. We curled back to the truck without seeing a rabbit.

I dropped Bob off and called our mutual friend, retired veterinarian Dr. Phillip Shirley. Doc said, “Bring him by, and I’ll take a look.”

I arrived at doc’s house about 4:45 p.m. When I pulled up on the tailgate latch, it broke. There was no way to get Tramp out. I tried releasing the latch with a long screw driver, but it was no go.

I drove rather quickly to get to Riley & Son’s Auto Repair. Two guys worked at it there then called the guys at Riley & Son’s Body Shop just a mile down the road.

The fellow at the body shop said, “I’ll have to tear out the plastic to get to the springs.”

Two guys working together got one side released and then the other.

They took my VIN number and promised to order parts the next morning.

Back at Doc Shirley’s for another try. Tramp has had limping problems in the past, and I was hoping this had not resurfaced. Doc did not find anything in the pads of Tramp’s foot. If it was a thorn, it may have pulled out or was too small to see or feel.

The next morning Tramp followed out to the barn and ran like a scared rabbit. I will continue to monitor his situation, but my old companion seems to be all right.

Thanks to the four men at Riley & Sons who dropped everything to rescue my beagle from the locked truck bed. They also did a good job replacing the latch.

In this bad luck scenario, time was of the essence, yet, everything happened in a timely manner.

We seldom see snow geese in central Indiana, but there are so many in the flyways west of here that federal and state wildlife agencies have special seasons with no bag limits or shotgun shell capacity restrictions.

I’ve learned that it takes a minimum of 1,200 decoys to attract a flock of snows, and some use many more. For that reason, one must hire an outfitter. The closest and one of the best is in south central Illinois near Carlyle Lake. These folks put out over 4,000 decoys. Check out their web page at www.southcentralsnows.com.

Rick Bramwell’s outdoors column runs on Thursdays.

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