Conditions of Use
First and Last Hunting Trip
4:00 A.M., Butte la Rose, cold as an Alaskan winter. There was still a veil of fog over the land. My uncle awoke me like a drill sergeant waking up a platoon. I leapt out of bed and into my camouflage-hunting garb. My uncle grabbed his shotgun and we were out the door by 4:15 A.M. I couldn’t bring a shotgun because I didn’t have a hunting license yet since this was my first time and I wasn’t sure if I’d liked hunting. My uncle and I met up with some of his friends to pick up the beagles that we were going to use for the hunt. 4:30 A.M., we arrived at the kennel and the dogs were howling up a storm because they were excited and ready for the hunt. My uncle picked three or four of his favorite dogs and the chase began.
First, we checked out an area of tall grasses and the men let the beagles loose. We started looking around until one of the beagles started howling, which meant, “I’ve found one, I’ve found one!” My uncle ran over to where the noise was coming from and found the dog barking at a squirrel. Although this as an early sign of failure, I was still hopeful that the dogs or us would spot a rabbit. About fifteen minutes later, as some of the guys were ready to try a different spot, there was another earsplitting howl. This time it came from just outside a circle of five old abandoned rusty cars. As we all encircled the cars, a cat sprung out and was then quickly pursued by one of the beagles. Each and every time a letdown or false alarm like this occurred, my hope in finding a rabbit went up but my faith in actually catching one went down.
5:30 A.M., after an hour of false sightings, some of my uncle’s friends were thinking about throwing in the towel, but others wanted to check the woods, which was bound to have tons of rabbits. I couldn’t even consider quitting yet, especially since this was my first time going hunting even though I wasn’t allowed to shoot a gun. I just couldn’t go home empty handed. I think failure was what kept me motivated and optimistic. It would be a terrible car ride home if no one shot a rabbit.
There it was again, the howling of a beagle, which came from deep inside the woods. My uncle and I rushed over to the sound but had to be careful not to trip over any branches. Zoom! The rabbit ran by in a blur with the beagle on its tail. My uncle couldn’t get a good aim for a while but then had the rabbit in his sights. Or so he thought.
He fired his big twelve guage and there was a bloodcurdling whine. My uncle had just shot his favorite dog. I tried to convince him we could make it to the nearest pet hospital and he just shook his head. The shotgun blast (multiple pieces of singeing metal) had ripped through the poor dog’s flesh. I thought about how much pain the beagle must have been in. The blood was now oozing out of the dog's body. My uncle answered that unasked question. “I think we should put him down.” He said sullenly.
You could see the twisted anguish in his face and in the beagle’s. I know people say animals don’t have feelings, but after seeing the torment in that dog’s deep blue eyes, I don’t know how anyone could say that.
My uncle guided me out of the forest. We took nine steps from the beagle before the executing shot rang out through all of Butte la Rose. On the way home I saw that the nearest pet hospital was in Breaux Bridge, which was about thirty minutes away. I’ll just say one thing… it was a long car ride home. Arrived home, 8:00 A.M., Halloween morning.
Article posted October 24, 2011 at 08:04 AM •
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