Tim’s Hound Blog
An effort at sharing random news, thoughts, and hunting stories from Tim and the Woodpont Beagles.......
Good Photo of an October Chase
Mid-Summer Chases (8/5/14)
Sunday morning, August 3rd, was extremely foggy after rains the afternoon before. I took 15 hounds (8M, 7F) to the farm across the road and was out for nearly 5 hours. This was only the second time this year I had taken them over to this location. Some deer and turkey hunters own the farm, so I generally go there only in mid-summer when I won’t disrupt any other hunting.
Birdbaby started the first rabbit in a thick corner of an overgrown field. It ran down into the big wooded hollow, then came back up and over the hill into a hole in a small bit of woods there.
Madcap gave a huge long howl when jumped the next rabbit from a thicket in the edge of some woods near where a lane separated two hayfields. They went a ways through the woods, then came out past me (see photo of the pack in the fog) and back into the woods where they started. The rabbit ran deep into the hollow where it holed in the base of a dead tree. Madcap was chewing at the tree when I got there.
Photo: Rabbit chase number 2.
Hounds are (left to right): Bearcat (leading), Birddog. Mayor, Marshall, Brawler (head up), Mailman, Biker, Beeswax, Mayfly, Tally (outside), Champy, and Madcap.
Rabbit number 3 was started by Birddog not far from where Madcap started the last one, but this time we were in the hayfield where an un-mowed thicket grew next to the woods. The pack was running well down into the same hollow as the last rabbit until it holed near where the last rabbit went, maybe in the same tree.
The next rabbit was started by Bearcat from a thicket next to the woods on the other side of the same hayfield. It crossed the lane between the hayfields and ran right-handed back toward the portion of the farm where the first rabbit was started, then crossed the open hayfield (see photo) back to near where it was started, where it holed on the wooded hillside.
Photo: Crossing the hayfield on Rabbit 4.
So after 4 rabbit chases, all ended in holes, with no chases of more than 15 minutes. The hounds were running well, though. We walked a distance before finding rabbit number 5, and it turned out to be the best run of the morning, distance-wise. Brawler jumped it from a thicket in an overgrown, very remote, small field surrounded by deep wooded hollows. This rabbit went down into the woods and then straight away almost out of hearing through the woods in an area that had been timbered about 15 years ago. Hounds were driving hard coming back after making a long point, and I saw the large rabbit sneaking through the saplings about 50 yards below me. It went back through the field where it was jumped, and them down into the rough hollows below, where it continued to run for a total of 30 minutes. The area was so rough that I could not stay with them or get to them to see how the run ended. After the run ended, I blew the horn and called the hounds back to me.
The 6th rabbit was started by Madcap, who ran it out of a small clump of woods directly into the path of several hounds harking to her. It escaped, but got a scare and ran down the hill and under some what remains of an old barn, for a chase of probably 2 minutes.
Rabbit 7 was started by Champ, and they ran it back and forth through a wet area of cattails in a hollow before the chase ended.
By the time Birddog started rabbit number 8, they were a tired bunch of hounds, but this was the best sounding run of the morning, going a long distance through the woods and around a hillside while I stood on the adjacent hilltop and listened to the music. Those hounds never sounded better. We had the deep voices of hounds like Mailman, Madcap, and Mayor mixing with those of higher pitch, like Birdbaby, Tally, and Magical. In between were the voices of Champ, Biker, Brawler, Covergirl, Bearcat, and Beeswax, who all have loud calling voices. Altogether, it was quite a roar, and I am sure people for miles around knew the Woodpont hounds were running that morning.
Hounds out were Brawler, Champy, Mailman, Mayor, Birddog, Biker, Bearcat, Marshall, Covergirl, Tally, Madcap, Magical, Birdbaby, Mayfly, and Beeswax.
No Change (6/15/14)
In England, huntsman prized hounds known as "no change" hounds, meaning they stick with their hunted hare no matter what. This allowed the pack to account for (kill) their hare instead of switching constantly onto fresh hares. Packs were known for how many "brace" (two) of hares they killed in a season. Keep in mind these were the large, stout European Hares who could put up quite a run, maybe a couple of hours, even with the beagles running full speed most of the time.
This morning's hunt reminded me why I so seldom have long runs on the same rabbit. Mine are not "no change" hounds! They will run any rabbit they find, and with a good population of rabbits this year, my hounds are getting in a lot of running, but also a lot of switching! I just go with the flow....
Here's an example, with some photos. I was walking the hounds down a country road near here. There was cover near the road, and hounds kept running out baby rabbits and I would nudge them off, until finally they broke out with a crash of music indicating they had started an adult. They left the roadside and went down into the edge of a pine plantation, ran a ways, then I saw the rabbit cross the road and run up into a scrub hillside. Hounds came up right behind, and after a short check in the road, old Brawler found the line up the hill. Hounds went screaming straight up, then eventually swung to the left into a mature forest. After a big loop way back in there, they started back toward me.
I saw grass moving in the ditch next to the road and realized the rabbit was nearby, so I took three photos of it as it came out and went along the road.
Photo: Can you spot the rabbit? By the way, this is a very slightly traveled road - only 1 car in 3 hours (2 guys in a nice Corvette). I still try to be on the road when they cross, however.
Note the rabbit's tail is down, indicating he is not alarmed and has not seen me.
Hounds soon came out on the line. I took them down to where the rabbit had turned off, but they had trouble picking it up. After a couple of mintues, Birdbaby gave a scream in the pines, and then Champ and others opened up closer to me. They packed together and started driving, going clear through the pines to a stream. I could hear the hounds splashing through the water before they crossed and started up through the woods on the other side. Hounds swung to my right, so I followed along the road as they drove along the wooded hillside. The symphony was terrific. I could hear every hound shouting threats at Molly Cottontail. Now keep in mind, I was hunting in remote country, so there was no distant road noise, no house dogs in earshot, or anything except the usual sounds of nature and those of 16 hard running hounds, that you could probably have heard for miles around. Eventually they broke out of the big woods into a more brushy area near the road.
I saw the rabbit cross the road again way up ahead of the hounds. He was really moving this time, so no photos!
Hounds came across and went into a field of high weeds, then on across into the mature forest where they had been earlier, but they turned left this time, and soon were coming toward me up a ditch that bisects the weed field. I saw the rabbit coming toward me, but it saw me also and turned back into the field before crossing the road. Hounds came around, with Champ and Biker leading, then quickly solved the check where I had turned the rabbit. As they went back across the weed field, they started another rabbit. I could tell it was different, because it ran to my left across the ditch and up a hill into a new area. They probably had put 20 minutes into the run before changing.
So that's how my spring has gone. Lots of driving runs, but only a handful to a hole or a catch because of the switches from the plentiful rabbit supply. Hounds went on the have several more good runs like this before we called it quits after 3 hours of good running. Hounds out this morning were: Brawler, Champy, Biker, Birddog, Bearcat, Mayor, Mailman, Marshall, Chicory, Covergirl, Birdcall, Tally, Mayfly, Birdbaby, Madcap, and Beeswax.
Gone to Ground (5/22/14)
In my hunting country, the cottontail rabbit tends to find a hole if pushed very hard for any length of time. Runs of over 30 minutes occur infrequently with my hounds, although they are not uncommon in springtime when the rabbits are breeding. I had a very nice 35 minute driving run a couple of weeks ago that ended with hounds in a muddy hole. (See photo of Woodpont Manager). I have seen rabbits go into every type of den out there, or into pipes, under buildings, and into rock cliffs. I remember one rabbit at Ohio's Tycoon Wildlife Area years ago that would always go into a pipe barely large enough to get a man’s fist into. I often wonder what happens to the rabbit who encounters an opossum or mink in the hole it chooses? One area I like to hunt has a good rabbit population, but strip mining left sheer rock walls with many crevices, so you get one circle and a hole from nearly every rabbit. Can’t say I blame them!
An English huntsman would say they have “Gone to Ground”, whereas most in America say they have “holed up”. The English packs even have a note on their horns to let their followers know the chase has ended at a hole. Hunters in America rarely ever dig out their game, but it was quite common for this to be done in other countries, especially with foxes. Of course, part of the reason for hunting foxes in parts of England and elsewhere was to exterminate some of them to make life easier for the sheep and poultry farmers, so digging them out was an approved practice. The English banned all hunting of foxes and hares with hounds in 2005, so the farmers now must use other methods to control the fox population.
Some hounds have a habit of staying and digging when the rabbit has “gone to ground”. Some beagle owners like this, but others want to move on and get very upset when a hound lingers at a hole. Some of my hounds come right back, while others, like my Woodpont Madcap and Woodpont Brawler, will stay to dig, claw and chew at the hole for some time. Years ago I saw my hounds pull a full grown rabbit from a hole, and some of those hounds would never leave a hole after that. They never forgot.
Photo: Woodpont hounds marking "gone to ground" in a rocky hole, March 2014.
Springtime Chases (5-14-14)
Runs the past two weekends have been very good. Some chases are going over 30 minutes, which is quite a chase in front of the driving Woodpont pack.
Woodpont Magical has some new puppies sired by McApple Champy. Champ is a Bruiser male that we got this winter from Chad McDannell in Pennsylvania. Here is a photo of Champ leading the Woodpont pack on May 4th.
Like most of our hounds, he is comfortable anywhere in the pack, but can lead when he gets the chance as shown in this photo. The rabbit ran within 2 feet of me on the road without acting the least bit concerned about me being there. Odd.
Hunting during the horrible winter was not so good this year. I did manage to get in a few days, and have been hunting regularly since the arrival of spring. Here are some photos....
Photo: Tally and Magical leading as they come around the bottom side of a farm pond on a rare day between periods when snow covered the ground in January. We are expecting puppies from Magical in a couple of weeks.
The three photos below were shot on a day in early March. The hounds had driven the rabbit out of cover and across an open field. I was able to rush over and snap some quick photos as they came by.
For more from past years, please follow these links:
Tim's Hound Blog 2013
Tim's Hound Blog 2012
Tim's Hound Blog 2011
Tim's Hound Blog 2010
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