My Dad first introduced me to hunting when I was around 10 years old. My very first firearm was my older brother’s used Daisy BB gun. It was okay that it was used because it became MY BB gun. It was the lever action type. Dad would have me set up targets in the back of the garage and we would walk out just past the garage door and perform our sighting in and shooting practice.
The very first hunt I was allowed to participate in was the regular Saturday morning rabbit hunt during the fall/winter season. Dad worked mostly 6 days a week. It was Saturday’s he had off and when we would hunt. At the time (1972) you were not allowed to hunt on Sunday’s in Ohio. Thankfully that changed later.
Back to hunting that wascally wabbit. My older brother David got a Beagle puppy one year for Christmas. He named her Sadie. Sadie came from a dog lineage of national “field champions”. Sadie’s parents were certified by one of the American Associations – but I cannot remember which one. David did have the papers though to prove it. Bottom line what I am getting at - Sadie was an excellent rabbit hunting dog. When we would get ready to go hunting Sadie would know it – some sort of dog instinct or maybe just part of that excellent breeding. All Dad would have to do is walk outside (Sadie lived in our fenced in back yard) and open the trunk and Sadie would go nuts with excitement. The opening of the trunk would signal Sadie’s excitement as that is where Dad would put her for the travel to the hunting spot. Sadie would whine and bark with excitement all the way until we stopped and she hear a car door open. She knew then her work was about to begin.
Anyhow – all of our rabbit hunting was done with Sadie. In the woods or in the field, Sadie would jump a rabbit and through her keen instincts plus Dad’s and David’s regular training of her, she would chase that rabbit howling each time she would get a whiff of rabbit scent on the trail. I would guess that approximately 90% of the time Sadie would bring that rabbit right back to where she had jumped it or where she knew we were waiting. Sadie would do this all day long with Dad and David harvesting several rabbits each. Sadie was definitely a field champion herself.
Okay – me hunting rabbit with a BB gun… ya right! But it was Dad’s way of introducing me to the sport at the start. I do remember getting one shot off with the BB gun. I also remember standing by Dad as he cleaned that rabbit because I wanted to find my BB in it. We never found the BB.
Carrying the BB gun while hunting only lasted one hunting season. Dad gave me an Ithica 20 gauge single shot shotgun about three months prior to the season. You should have seen my face when I opened it that year. Dad spent the time teaching me how to use the gun and how to be safe. I did well so he allowed me to carry it on the very first rabbit hunt of the season.
The first rabbit hunt using my new shotgun came and went without me getting a shot off at a rabbit. Not because of Sadie but actually due to me always not seeing the rabbit until too late. Dad had that Kentucky-windage thing and normally was able to shoot whatever I had missed. However I did not waste the second hunt. I remember it well. Sadie was chasing another rabbit. There was about 6 inches of snow on the ground and I saw the rabbit well in front of Sadie. The rabbit would take several hops every time it heard Sadie howl. I waited until that rabbit was in the open and using what Dad had taught me I harvested my very first rabbit at age 11.
I had not rabbit hunted in years – no make that decades… until this past October. I found a walk-in area not too far east from home plus my hunting partner had shared another walk-in area southeast. I now use rabbit hunting to keep me in the field after big game season is finished. Dad taught me an excellent rabbit recipe – e-mail me and I will share. It even works on Jack Wabbits… I mean Jack Rabbits! Oh - and I still have that Daisy BB gun.