Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

December 18, 2013

A rabbit hunting trip never to be forgotten

By Keith Kappes - Publisher

Dec. 18, 2013 — Four of my uncles were coming home for Christmas. They planned a rabbit hunting trip and insisted that their two nephews go along.

As I recall, my brother was about 15 and I was about 13.

Hunting was a big deal in mom’s family. Her father was the total outdoorsman.

He had hunted and fished since childhood and he made sure his five sons followed his footsteps in the woods.

Our uncles couldn't understand why my brother and I didn’t share their interest in stalking and shooting helpless animals.

I put that part in to get you hardcore hunters excited about reading the rest of my story.

My brother eventually became a hunter and still ventures into the woods occasionally. I know that he once shot a cow by mistake during deer season and had to pay for it.

I want to go back to the rabbit hunting story that I haven’t shared in years.

Our uncles said they would provide most of the equipment but we had to get our own caps.

Mom bought each of us a bright red, leather cap. That was long before the florescent gear of today’s hunters. We borrowed dogs from our neighbor.

It was a frosty morning in late December when we reached that snowy cornfield. Someone started a fire and then the dogs were turned loose.

My brother and I had taken gun safety classes in school and in the Boy Scouts but we still got a refresher from our uncles.

They huddled, passed each other a bottle in a brown paper sack, and then we lined up side-by-side to follow the dogs.

We tramped through that cornfield for at least three hours but the dogs never flushed a single rabbit, a bird or any other living creature.

By the time we got back to the fire, it was dying and the bottle in the sack was empty.

We were told we had to observe an old family tradition by throwing the youngest hunter’s cap into the air for the others to shoot at.

I reluctantly threw my new cap into the air and they blasted it apart. I found only a piece of the bill.

I told mother about the “family tradition” and showed her what was left of my cap. She was not happy.

I returned the dogs and told the owner about my cap. Laughing so hard he nearly fell out of his chair, he said he had never heard of such a thing.