Up north, in Minnesota, winter lasts a long time and the rabbits run big. We hunt lots of public land and literally have hundreds of acres to ourselves once the deer season’s over. From December until mid-April we can use public land but after April 13 the public land closes to dog training until August. The hunting season, however, ends at the end of February so there’s almost six weeks that old bugs gets chased with out the threat of some chilled six shot. In spring, the bucks cover a lot of ground and really lay down scent. On the other hand, for about the same six week period from August to the end of September Mr. Bunny can get chased but not gunned; and in August rabbit numbers are usually up.

That’s when my ten year old son, Fergus, and I find three or four evenings a week to train what he calls “The Falls Creek Pack”. We load the hounds in the kennel and in five minutes we’re at a good running spot. There’s cover for every preference. We have small pine stands, river bottom willows, and thickets of wild raspberry, plum trees and crown vetch.

On this March evening we choose river willows and thickets surrounded by an open field. My son handles the dogs and lets Roxy off with the command to “get on”. Then he lets Donna follow. The dogs know this place and start hunting cover that has produced rabbits in the past. Roxy …