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franklin county times

Rabbit season brings back memories of old Booger

By Staff
Feb. 9, 2001
Now that we're having prime rabbit hunting weather I can't help but remember old Booger. Booger was the best jump dog that I have ever known.
Have you ever heard the expression, "You can't judge a book by its cover?" If there was ever a case to support that saying, it was old Booger.
Booger's mother was a full-blooded beagle, as Booger was supposed to be. Shortly after I got out of college, my brother Joe and I decided to get into the rabbit hunting business. We were going to buy a couple of puppies and start a pack from scratch. Joe purchased two puppies and brought them home.
One look at the puppies and I knew they weren't full blooded. I was disappointed. Whoever heard of a black and white beagle? Anyway, my family picked out the puppy we wanted. Joe chose the one he named Booger. Shortly thereafter, my puppy died of unknown causes.
Joe wasn't dismayed, however, and he went about the business of getting a pack together to train. Over the course of the next two years Joe bought and sold other dogs as he trained Booger and some others. If a dog ran a deer instead of a rabbit, he would try to break him by various means.
If it was a puppy he would give it a chance and work with it. If it was an old dog, he would sell it or trade it.
Once an older dog got used to running deer, you could hardly break it of the habit. Nothing could ruin a day quicker than losing the pack on a deer.
It wasn't too long before Joe had a good pack assembled. We noticed that old Booger never wanted to be a follower. And Booger never barked on a cold trail. Now some dogs would cold trail a rabbit and eventually jump them. However, most of them would bark occasionally and you really couldn't tell if they were on something or not.
When Booger barked however, you knew he had jumped a rabbit and was hot on its trail. It didn't matter if the other dogs couldn't get anything going. If there was a rabbit around, Booger would find it.
Booger never quit on a rabbit either. If the rabbit was in a swampy area with a lot of water, he would just keep on hunting until he picked up the trail. On one trip up in the Bogue Phalia hills, Booger was at his best.
It wasn't uncommon for the dogs to run a rabbit out of hearing, and then bring the rabbit back around. All of the other dogs had left a rabbit's trail while Booger was still at work. Every once in a while we would hear Booger's bark clearly. Then it would grow faint and disappear.
After about 20 minutes of hearing him come and go we knew something was wrong. After a short hike across a beaver slough, we heard him again. Finally we located him on the side of the hill. He had run the rabbit into a hole and would not give up!
He wanted the rabbit so bad that he had dug the hole out and completely disappeared under the ground. Every so often he would back out kicking dirt as he came. He was literally trying to dig his way into the rabbit den. Now that's what I call perseverance!
Rabbit dogs and seasons will come and go, but there will never be another Booger.
Mike Giles is an Outdoors writer for The Meridian Star.

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