Lamping Rabbits With Working Lurchers
Its Good To Get Back
Its now mid august and we have had our first deluge earlier than usual by about two months. I'm told that this is the wettest August on record, but I’m not complaining.
The old, blood stained battery was charged in anticipation and I thought to myself, just where had the summer gone? It only seemed like yesterday that we stopped hunting for the season; time to rest the working lurchers and ourselves after a hard winter.
On this maiden trip of the season I only wanted a few runs as the dog wasn’t fit really…yet. Obviously, Scooby had been laid off during the spring and summer. I had made sure his precious tootsies hadn’t made fast contact with any hard ground. He had accompanying me out with the airgun most days just for exercise, but its not the same as running is it? The hundreds of hours spent out with the air gun this summer had been beneficial in one respect because his retrieves have just got better and better on feather. Whereas prior to this summer his feathered retrieves have been a little untidy he now delivers practically every downed birds back to hand alive with panache and style. I say “practically every” because he is non too keen on crows and Maggies, but neither am I, so I cant hold that against him! Curiously, he will retrieve jays perfectly, so I assume they must have a different scent from the other corvids.
On the boring, repetitious summer evening walks I had purposefully avoided the marshes and thickets that hold deer because I didn’t want the dogs running them, or anything else for that matter, on this sun baked ground. The trouble with the scent of deer is that the lurchers find it irresistible and once the dogs in the deer’s slipstream you can forget “calling him off” because it just aint gonna happen. No way.
So, the lurchers and I confined our little walks to the short, sheep-grazed fields where, surely, we would not bump into any runable critter…not even a rabbit! Oh dear, I bet you’ve already guessed, Yep a bloody daft rabbit had pressed itself, as flat as a pancake, into the bare earth hundreds of yards away from where they normally live. The dogs found the telltale scent and that was that. With a full field to traverse before it reached the safety of a stone pile you would have thought that the dogs would have snaffled this suicidal fur ball up. They did try! Closing in at full speed, plumes of dust mushroomed in their wake as if they were triggering mini Hiroshima’s at every stride.
As one, both dogs went down for the strike, but this rabbit put in a life-saving acute bend making both lurchers look daft. The pair of dogs had a turning circle of a HGV on this ground and I just knew that something, somewhere would be pulled, injured or torn. The happy duo returned to where I was stood cringing, their tongues a yard long, sides heaving, blowing like a locomotive. Bloody dogs! Bloody summer!
As we walked back to the jeep I couldn’t see any evidence of an injury, “perhaps I have gotten away with it this time” I though to myself, but secretly, I knew something would be amiss somewhere. And it was. Before we reached the motor Scoob started carrying a front leg and the pup looked rather tender on his feet, probably bruised his pads. After a fortnights rest Scoob still wasn’t right and so I took him to a greyhound man. After five minutes of cringingly noisy bone popping Scoob was gambolling around this chaps lawn like a spring lamb! I cannot stress too much how important it is to go to an expert with your running dog injuries and not to a “pet dog” veterinarian.
A week later Scoob and I ventured out for our first night of the season. The Lightforce illuminated our first rabbit of the season, a squatter, a definite kill surely. My dog ran down the beam straight towards the motionless form but instead of snatching the rabbit out of its seat from outside the beam, the dog cut the light off as he tried to strike in front of the light. The rabbit obviously saw the huge, carnivorous shadow looming ahead and it fled for its life, escaping into a thick hedgerow. The second run went exactly the same way! I just couldn’t believe it; Scooby had never blocked the light off before so why had he started how? I decided to give him one more run and this time he must have realised because he made no mistake on this occasion. This bunny was nailed in its seat and delivered live to hand. I’m blaming the first two missed chances to “first night blues”, just one of those things.
Only one rabbit in the bag, nothing to shout about I know, but it sure was good to get out into the fields again. The seasons here guys. Good hunting.