Tales of Cotton

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Published on: Oct. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 27, 2010

Rusty the dog, not Rusty the farmer, who got snake bit.

I no longer live in the country. However, the old saying 'You can take the boy out of the country but you can't take the country out of the boy' is true in my life. Like the saying, I have found others who grew up under similar conditions and now we hunt together.

Harold McLain, or "Mac," is my rabbit hunting buddy. He is a Mississippian who cut his teeth on swamp rabbits and is a walking, talking encyclopedia on rabbit dogs. Aside from that fact, he's just an all-around super fine fellow.

Like me, Harold grew up knowing about gun safety and this is top priority when hunting with him. Don't make the mistake of mishandling a shotgun, or that will be your last trip out with him.

If you want to run a smile across someone's face, just bring up the subject of rabbit hunting around Mac and sit back. He will carry the conversation from that point on. Mac and I start talking rabbit hunting in the late days of summer and carry on with trips to local areas where he can run the dogs before season. These short trips fine-tune the dogs for the fall and winter season.

Although the season officially starts the first of October, we usually don't get out until after the weather turns cooler. Sometimes this isn't until mid to late November, after deer season and, preferably, after a good frost.

Mac has some fine dogs and talks to them just as if they were his children. Seven-year-old Clyde still gives the younger pups a lesson when a smart bunny tries a trick or two. Junior and Champ, two of Clyde's offspring, also are in the pack. The fourth member of the McClain pack is Cindy, a little female who is my favorite. When she closes in on a rabbit, her chop bark turns into a loud squealing holler that is simply music to my ears.

This is what I enjoy most when out with Mac - the sound of those beagles. The friendship one develops with others who enjoy the outdoors creates an experience I wish everyone could have.

Our first rabbit hunting trip is usually to a farm in central Missouri. Once we park the truck and start putting on our coveralls, the dogs are ready to go. They

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