A Holiday Hunt Remembered by its Fragrance©

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A Holiday Hunt Remembered by its Fragrance©
by Dale Lee

After the Thanksgiving or Christmas meal was eaten at my grandparents, the men would go on a big hunt. My cousin, our fathers, grandfather, and I would head out to hunt for meat. The meat we were looking for was packaged as rabbits and squirrels.

For one hunt, my uncle invited two of his buddies to join us on our hunt. They had four Beagle dogs to hunt the rabbits. A trained dog made hunting easier specially if you wanted to get meat to eat. The dogs would smell the rabbit and track it by its scent till it was found. I never knew how the dogs knew which way the rabbit was traveling when they smelled the rabbit.

For our typical hunts, we would get back to the house after being gone for a couple of hours minus shotgun shells, rifle shells, and meat. We made a lot of noise with the guns without getting meat. It is good that we would eat before going hunting. The talking, bragging about who was the best shot, and just teasing each other was fun. The presence of the real hunters with dogs changed our hunting behavior.

We were not doing the normal hunting things such as bragging about who was the best shot and just teasing each other. We were trying to act like professional rabbit hunters. I did not know how I was to act.

It was exciting to see the Beagle dogs getting out of the car trunk with them barking. The chickens that were eating in the yard disappeared. The dogs took off smelling the ground and air for a rabbit. I followed the rest of the great hunters. The dog owners knew from the bark of the dog if they were searching for a scent or were following a scent they had found. I did not know the difference. The dogs were barking, howling, and making weird dog sounds that I assumed the dogs understood.

The dogs followed a scent to a tree that was growing at the edge of a small gully. The dogs were trying to work themselves under the tree’s roots that had been uncovered by water flowing down the gully. The dog owners were happy that the dogs had quickly picked up a rabbit’s scent. The rabbit had gone into what looked like a little tunnel under the tree. The dogs were very aggressive in trying to get to the rabbit since only one dog at a time could get to tunnel . I did not know if the dogs would actually catch the rabbit, or it would break out of the tunnel and lead the dogs on a chase. I like to watch dogs chase rabbits. Once a rabbit would get out in the open, the dogs had little chance of catching it if there were bushes and brush piles for the rabbit to visit. The dogs would follow the rabbit’s scent once it got out of their eye sight.


The hunters formed a ring around the tree about twenty feet away from the tree. I suddenly realized that something was wrong. The dogs’ owners realized it at about the same time. We could not see what was trapped under and in the tree’s roots. We could smell it. The good hunting dogs let down their owners. They picked up the scent of a skunk instead of a rabbit. I have wondered if the dogs did pick up the scent of a rabbit and the rabbit ran into the hiding place of a skunk. One thing the hunters knew was the dogs had more on their noses than the scent of a rabbit.

The dog owners were frantically trying to get the dogs away from the tree’s roots, and the dogs were not interested in leaving. The men finally got leases clipped to the dogs’ collars and pulled them away from the tree. With the dogs pulled away from the tree, I was expecting the rabbit to make a break from the tree roots. Nothing moved from the tree’s roots. We did not get to see a rabbit nor the skunk. We did not know if a rabbit was actually under the tree, but we did know for a fact that there was a skunk hiding under the tree.

I have to admit that I wanted to see the skunk. I had backed up far enough from the tree to give the skunk its distance. I wondered how quickly I would have started running if the skunk came out of the tunnel and headed in my direction.

The hunt with the dogs ended about thirty minutes after starting. The men were ready to go home. As we went to the house, I tried to stay upwind from the dogs. They did not smell good. After we got to the car, the men were trying to figure out how to get the dogs home. They could leave the dogs at the farm for a few days till the smell wore off. They decided to put the dogs in the trunk of the car and go home.

I cannot imagine driving about thirty miles with four skunk sprayed dogs in the car’s trunk. The smell easily went through the back seat into the rest of the car. A skunk’s fresh sprayed perfume is very overpowering. That must have been a long drive home for the hunters. I wondered what the hunters’ wives said when they greeted their smelly hunters.

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Date last changed: 12-29-2007