My Three Sons

I pulled into the parking lot at the Lamine River Conservation Area in Cooper County on a Saturday morning in mid-January. My three sons—ages 9 to 14—were with me. In the trailer behind the truck were eight dogs: six beagles, a Labrador and a viszla.

We were all going rabbit hunting.

The dogs knew it and were announcing their eagerness by barking their heads off. The weather was perfect for rabbit hunting with dogs. The temperature was in the high 30s, it was misting rain and there was no wind. The dogs would have no trouble trailing rabbits. From the noise they were making in the trailer, I suspected they knew we were in for a good hunt.

A few minutes after we let the dogs out, they were chasing the first rabbit. My sons knew what to do because they had been rabbit hunting with me for years. We spread out and walked slowly behind the dogs. The secret to success was anticipating where the rabbit would run and getting in position to make a shot. My sons knew that watching the dogs was the wrong thing to do because the rabbit is usually way ahead and will run right by a hunter who is too intent on the dogs.

Although they would rather be running with the other dogs, I made the Labrador and viszla sit next to me while the beagles were chasing rabbits. I knew that the two bigger dogs were much better than me at sensing a rabbit creeping through the grass and brush. When their ears went up, I knew the rabbit was close.

As the morning progressed, the mist turned to rain. The rabbit hunting continued to be excellent, and I knew that there was a very good chance we would each get a limit despite the weather. I was absorbed in the hunt. My boys didn’t need much direction. They knew what to do.

The dogs were working a particularly sneaky rabbit, and I was thinking of where I needed to move when I felt a tap on my shoulder. This broke my train of thought. Who would disturb me at such a critical time?

I turned around and there was my oldest son with his two brothers standing behind him. Evidently he was chosen as the spokesperson. He said, “Dad, I think we’ve had all the fun we can stand for today.”

They wanted to go home. What a disappointment.