January Sneak Peek

Last Day

By John Gibble

Some folks clamor about getting out on the opening day of the season. For sure, when it comes to deer hunting, that first day represents about your best chance of connecting on some venison when everyone else seems to be in the woods pushing them around for you. I remember when the first day of trout season and the first day of small game season were big deals, too. For the fish, folks would be lined up, elbow to elbow on any stocked and fishable piece of water. Often crossed lines and assumed possession of a special hole, or accusations of starting early resulted in altercations, some of them physical. My fly-fishing friend says neither the fish nor the angler are worthy of each other. We called it “combat fishing”. The first day of small game season was a big deal when I was a kid. Fire halls and churches would put on big breakfasts. They had to be early because hunters wanted to be at the edge of their chosen field before the 8:00 a.m. shooting time started (or was it 9:00?). Rows of hunters would march across the same fields, back and forth, hollering for dogs or kids, and hunters would be trying to figure out how to get their 2-wheel drive station wagon out of the roadside ditch without paying the farmer $5 to help with his tractor. On the first day of deer season, we would sit on the mountain and count the number of shots heard: 100, 200, or 300 by lunch time was not uncommon. Usually one stopped counting around 8:30 and noted his count and the time.
Of late, I’ve become more enamored with the last day of the season. It seems that throughout our small game season I allow too many other things to take up my time. For several years, it was high school football games; after which came holidays and shopping; then would come the cold snaps with 20 degree highs and biting winds when one hated to leave the house let alone spend all day outside. So by the end of rabbit hunting season, it seems quite imperative to me that I must partake, sometimes not just the last day but the last few days if weather and work allow.
Last year was consumed with plans to build a new house, meeting with contractors and subcontractors and excavators. It was also eaten away by trying to sell the old house with potential buyers coming through on odd days, especially weekends, requiring quick cleaning and rearranging for the optimum show. There were also the PBGA meeting, meetings with the Game Commission, discussions on pending regulations and laws. Several birthday parties fell in along the way. As I watched my rabbit hunting opportunities dwindle, I took a firm stand and circled the last day of the season on the calendar and marked it inviolable.

Be sure the check out the rest of this article in our January issue.

December Sneak Peek

Spot Etiquette

By John Gibble

It can be awfully hard to find good places to hunt rabbits. What seems even harder is keeping those good places. Let me give you a “for instance.” I found a good fishing hole when I was a boy. There was a small dam on the creek I used to fish. At the base of the dam was an overflow raceway and a big chunk of concrete had fallen into the rushing water. Quite by accident, one day I dipped my line just beside that chunk of concrete and pulled out a whopper bass. In fact, I pulled many, many large fish out of that little hole. There was a certain way you had to float your bait down through there to get the right presentation. Many years later, I was telling an older friend about this spot and wouldn’t you know, the very next day he was there. I know he was there because he fell over backward off the concrete wall and injured his back. His wife blamed me. This same friend was also a great one for going back to hunting spots you had shown him. I know this because my job requires me to do a lot of driving on local roads and after I showed this fellow a spot, if it was any good, I would often see his truck and/or the truck of another retired friend parked there during the week. After losing several spots like this, I wised up.
We would talk on Friday night and decide to go rabbit hunting the next day. I would pull into his driveway. We would load his dogs. He would climb into my truck and ask, “Where are we going?” After getting on to the game, I would stare straight ahead and say, “I haven’t given it any thought. Do you have a place?” And he would invariably say, “No, I don’t know any place to hunt.” We would sit there for a few minutes both staring straight ahead, waiting for the other one to flinch. Usually one or the other would give in with a suggestion of going to some place where everyone hunted so as not to disclose any secrets.
Now, here’s my code of etiquette when it comes to hunting spots. If you take me to a spot to hunt, I don’t go back there without you. As with most rules there are exceptions. If it is a spot that I would have found on my own, I don’t feel it should be reserved. For instance, if I hunt a certain area of public game land and you hunt the next hollow over and we go there together one day, I don’t see a reservation that should be honored. I would have gotten there eventually. On the other hand if you scouted out this spot, got land-owner permission, and I have no inkling of how, where, or why you found this spot, it’s yours. I’ve pretty much held to this code of etiquette for all my years of hunting. The only breech of etiquette I can recall was when a young fellow bought some eight week old puppies from me, then some more from another fellow, then some more from yet another fellow, then accused me of hanging my culls on him. He sold all of his dogs and got out of beagling. Whether it was revenge or just that great of a spot, I went back to a place he showed me and hunted it out that year.

Be sure the check out the rest of this article in our December issue.