Rabbit season opened one week earlier this year. We had planned to go to a rabbit camp for a week in the mountains this year. Kenny Byrd and Mike Queener were taking a week’s vacation to spend in camp plus several others were coming for a day or so. Sunquist and Royal Blue have 146,000 acres to hunt.
We loaded the camper and our van and left early Friday morning. My wife, Betty, and grandson, Josh, followed me and helped set up camp. Boy, I couldn’t believe all the work to set up the rabbit camp. There was a kitchen area to set up, a place for the generator, tie-outs for 20 Beagles and a place for the wood burning stove.
Kenny and Gavin Byrd were the first to show up, then Steven, Jordan and Chase drove into camp. Mike Queener pulled into camp at dark, which made a total of seven to spend the first night at the camp.
Opening morning found us scattered across the mountain. Some of us started at the tabletops. This is one of my favorite places to hunt. We never miss having several rabbits up plus we always harvest a few. We weren’t disappointed this morning either. The dogs were in high gear and Steven, Jordan and Chase were showing off their rabbits. We got back into camp at one o’clock. Mike came in with his dogs 30 minutes later all smiles with his harvest. What happy times we had sitting around camp exchanging tales of rabbit races and those long shots which took the rabbits.
Keith Turnbill and his son Trent showed up to hunt with Mike Queener. They hunted behind Peabody Cemetery where they got four rabbits up. Trent got his first rabbit; this was one tickled young man. We were all proud for him.
Monday found us going in different directions to hunt. We loaded four dogs each. I took Sam, Andy, Peggy and Sadie. I drove to the top of the mountain past McCormick Road to hunt the main road. I pulled off the side of the road to hunt overgrown fields. This field included log piles, briar patches and hills with gullies. I turned the dogs loose and it wasn’t long and they had a rabbit up through the briars alongside the ridge down into the gully to another ridge. Finally, this rabbit turned and came back through the gully. He made a full circle, and yours truly was waiting. I saw him pop out of the briars and my 28 gauge came to life. Dead-dead. I was hollering to the dogs. “More rabbits for the pot.” I was pleased with Peggy and Sadie for they are only 14 months old. It’s the first time they have been shot over and it didn’t bother them.
That evening we gathered back at camp to discuss the hunt of the day. The stories, laughter and the fellowship were beyond compare. It wasn’t long until our TWRA officer “game warden,” Justin Jacks, a.k.a. JJ, came into camp to check licenses. These three old hunters enjoyed having him in camp with us. We told him about the tabletops and how we enjoy hunting them. We also let him know that Thursday’s supper would be barbecue rabbit sandwiches and that he should have supper with us.
Tuesday morning found Kenny Byrd turning his dogs, Buster, Dozer, Boone and Sis loose at the tabletops. The dogs kicked up a rabbit quickly and took it down the ridge around the side of the mountain. They were pushing him hard in a circle, and there he cames! Kenny saw him and “boom” went his 20 gauge. “Dead-dead,” he hollered. Then out of the corner of his eye he saw him. Behind the tree, there he stood bigger than life. It was the (Rabbit-Sheriff) Justin Jacks, alias JJ. As he approached, he asked for his license again. To Kenny’s surprise, he left his wallet in camp. When the rabbit sheriff started to put hand cuffs on Kenny, Kenny’s hat fell off and the sun shined from Kenny’s bald head and blinded the rabbit-sheriff and Kenny ran off as fast as a rabbit. Just then I woke up . . . it was just a dream.
The week went by quickly. We had 52 rabbits up and several taken for our rabbit supper. I couldn’t count the number of people who stopped by our camp during the week. They just wanted to visit a rabbit camp, and we enjoyed every one of them. Thursday evening found each one of us busy around camp. Mike and I were busy preparing the rabbits when our friend, J.J., the game warden came back to camp for supper. What a pleasure to have him share our camp and to laugh and talk with him again. If you have the privilege to share a man’s hunting camp, count yourself blessed.
Good friends, good times. What a blessing from the Lord!