Thanksgiving at the farm
Thanksgiving was a big holiday on the farm. We had been
taught about the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. Another reason
was it always came on a Thursday and made a long holiday. But the
best reason was because it was always the first day or rabbit season.
We had four rabbit hounds. King and Queenie, excellent rabbit dogs
and Rocket and Jet. Both just so-so. Norman brought Rocket as a puppy
to the farm. He was suupposed to be a pure bred beagle with papers
long as your arm. He was too big and too heavy for a beagle. I think
he had some Bassett genes mixed in. He was also epileptic . He would begin
trotting in ever smaller circles and finally at the center of the circle
he would fall over on his side. He would lie there for a few minutes
and then get up and resume hunting.
Jet, a small white dog, turned out to be an excellent deer hound.
Before Jet, we would go deer hunting with coon hounds, fox hounds and
any other hound we could find. The trouble was whenever they struck a
scent and began chasing the deer, they made a huge amount of barking
and howling, plus they chased the deer too fast. The deer would go as
fast as possibe in a straight line. When the deer came to the creek
it would jump in and swim to the other side. Half the dogs would do
Sometimes it was two or three days before you got your dogs back.
Jet was a small dog, didn’t make much noise and trotted along on the trail.
The deer would run slower and run in a big circle. The hunter was able to get
in front of the deer and Jet.
Of course all this was highly illegal. Deer hunting with dogs
was against the law then and still is.
Back to Thankgiving and rabbit hunting. There would be four or
five of us, sometimes Uncle Mick and Cousin Rudy would join us with
their two or three dogs. We would begin the hunt. Most of us would
be in the woods and a few in the open field. Soon we would kick a
rabbit out of a brush heap or the dogs would ‘jump’ the rabbit.
Norman would yell ‘there he goes’, sometimes shots were fired.
Usually all misses when the rabbit was running away at full speed.
The rabbit would usually run a few hundred yards and then circle back.
Here they come, all five or six hounds barking and howing just
as if they see the rabbit. You tense up and wait for the rabbit
to hop out in front of you. The dogs appear, barking furiously.
No rabbit. The dogs have committed a cardinal sin. They are
back-tracking. They had lost the rabbit and were following the
scent back to where it started. The rabbit had either jumped a ditch,
went in a briar patch or went into a hole.
We finally got the dogs back hunting. Sometime they
would tree a raccoon or possum. We pulled the dogs away and
kept hunting. We didn’t want either one
Norman was a real Nimrod. He could spot a rabbit sitting
perfectly still in a brush heap five yards away.
We hunted around the field and quit at noon.
Rabbits were divided up between the families.
We were ready for Thanksgiving dinner, usually served
at two or three in the afternoon.
Dad always said Grace, “Dear Lord, we are truely thankful
far which we are about to receive. Amen”