NWSJ 3-47.indd

February 2015
Northwoods Sporting Journal
Snowshoes, Kids, Beagles
When the beagles were
working there was a magic in
the air. My kids were raised with
Splinter and Pepper from the
beginning. Although the beagle
hound I thought was the best I ever
had was named Queenie, a veteran
of 15 years and more than 1,500
rabbits added to the pot...it was
the offspring that my “kids” (now
middle forties) still talk about.
Early on the kids needed to
use a pair of U.S. Air Force survival snowshoes I had to maneuver
in the woods. I made the mistake
of getting them regular snowshoes
only to find they needed to grow
into them before they could join
the beagles on the winter hunts.
The dogs were learning their trade
at the same time. Their mother
was only able to be with them
on a few hunts before she had a
fatal heart attack. Alone in the
woods the young pups showed
promise but not much delivery
the first season. But, that was all
right with me because I was trying to get a young daughter and
son through the winter woods
Page 21
Northwoods
Traveler
by Dave O’Connor,
Island Falls, ME
tion into mature hunters. Splinter
and Pepper got hugs and praise
from the kids every time they
did something right. Everything
seemed to fit into a natural system
of hunting habitat, the winter
season, an abundance of rabbits,
the Saturdays and vacations to
hunt, blended well with a strong
annual outdoor tradition. Those
years passed all too quickly until
The dog kept on the trail, my son looked
at me and shrugged his shoulders.
He had arrived.
training sessions, too. Walking
with snowshoes while persuing
snowshoe rabbits (technically
hares) can be a difficult task for
young and old. Rabbits hang in the
thick evergreens while feeding on
hardwood tips in the surrounding
acres. The more dense the young
trees are, the better the rabbits like
it, especially if there is a fringe of
young hardwood growth. After a
little experience you get so you can
spot great rabbit covers before you
ever get in the woods.
The young spectator kids
will soon want a single shot shotgun but that’s all part of the evolu-
my young hunters found basketball, cars and the opposite sex
and the hounds grew thru old age
and were eventually unable to go
hunting. But, on the one cycle of
life where my kids were young
and the beagles were just learning
their trade as masters of the rabbit
covers there came several hundred
days where there was magic in
the air, a time every hunter lives
through and enjoys forever. Early
on in the training of both canine
and young hunter there are landmarks where the adult has a great
time just being the observer.
One I remember clearly
concerned Sean’s need to get better
at timing the shot. On this day he
missed a shot he should have easily made when the rabbit crossed
a wide woods road. The dog came
up on the track and glanced at my
son who hollered, “Yeah, I know
Pepper! I should have gotten that
one. Sorry!” The dog kept on the
trail, my son looked at me and
shrugged his shoulders. He had
arrived. Maine winters provide
many great opportunities to explore these places of white magic.
Dave O’Connor is an
award-winning outdoor author
with published articles every
month since October, 1962. He
is also a photographer, camper
and arctic adventurer with recently expanded interests in alligators, bass and crappie fishing
in southwestern Florida. Home
time in Aroostook gets much of
the time still with extended trips
to Maine’s best…West Grand, the
Allagash, Moosehead and East
Grand. Partridge and deer hunts
were very successful this year.
davewriter1944@yahoo.com
Aroostook County (Continued)
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