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Early October Hare Hunt

by Carl Aresco

This was my second year in a row going Snow Shoe Hare hunting in Northern Maine in October. Previously, I had gone on a three-day hare hunt in Northwestern New York State in minus five-degree weather where the hounds had a difficult time trying to run. I found it to be a big ice patch, and the weather was dry and cold. One day in the fall of 2001, I was at an AKC SPO licensed field trial on cottontail rabbit (this trial uses a pack of gundog beagles to chase a rabbit and the pack is scored by two judges on AKC small pack option rules). I met up with a friend of mine, Nick Marino, from New Jersey. We talked about hare hunting and how he goes to Maine hare hunting during two separate weeks in October and how much nicer a hunt it is than my Northwestern NY trip. Next, he asked me to come up with him next year. This was an opportunity to hunt with some of the very best beagles around. For Nick, it’s his stud dog, FC John’s Buck VII and his offspring, which are some great hounds to hunt with. Also joining us on this trip was Dr. Skinner, a top-notch veterinarian and beagle man with some of his great hounds. Doc’ s FC Rain Tree Ice, which is a great bitch, produced two offspring bred out of Buck that were fun to watch. They can really put on a show. These two gentlemen have judged a lot of field trials in their time and have finished many Field Champions. The answer to having an opportunity to join in on this trip was, of course, yes! After hearing about what a success the 2002’s hunt was, I couldn’t wait for this year’s hunt! When I was asked to share the hunt with other interested gundog hunters, I was more than happy to. So, after numerous phone calls were made throughout the Northeast, our plans were well under way. The plan was for my cousin, Carmelo, to meet me at 5:00 a.m. at my house and we’d drive to Kittery, Maine for 9:30 a.m. We were to purchase hunting licenses and get on the road heading North right after that. Like clockwork, the long wait was over and at 5:15 in the morning we were off. Everyone showed up in Maine on time and we let the dogs out to stretch a little. Once they were all set and all of us had our licenses bought, we were on our way. Our hunting party consisted of Nick Marino and Stan Redrow from New Jersey, Anthony Pizzo, Doc Skinner and his son, Doug, from Pennsylvania, Tony Rodrick and Dave Wood from Rhode Island and Carmelo Aresco and myself, from Connecticut. These gentlemen are all good hunters and great fun to be with. Upon arriving at our hotel, we took out all the dogs and fed and watered them. Once they were set we headed out for some supper. We discussed plans for the next day and all agreed that all the dogs would get out and run daily and this way the dogs wouldn’t get stuck in their boxes all day. After a few laughs, we turned in for the night.

On Monday we started out at 5:00 a.m. and the forecast was mostly cloudy and 60 degrees. It was a little warm but we would shed clothes as needed. We started by tying all the dogs out and watering them. After they were set we headed for breakfast. After a quick meal, we headed to our first hunting spot and we collared the first pack with tracking collars and started hunting. It didn’t take long before one of Nick’s bitches opened up and the chase was on. This pack was the quickest pack of the day, Nick’s Amber, FC Dr. Doo, Banjo, Nick’s Roxanne, Nick’s Pearl, Fam’s Mountain View Hannah. This pack really moved that hare around the bog for around a half an hour before it crossed by Stan and one shot was all he needed. The pack only took a couple of minutes before striking another hare right in front of me and they were off. But the hare ran a fairly big loop and through some really thick cedars so it was hard to get a shot. This hare finally broke out of the thicker cover and headed just below me and right at Carmelo. He made a nice shot out of his newly converted twelve-gauge Bernadelli shotgun with reducer tube inserts that made it a twenty-gauge shotgun. He also had reducers to make it a twenty-eight gauge. What a great idea! The rest of the day was more of the same with all three packs doing a great job and by day’s end we had nine hare in the bag.

Tuesday was a partly sunny, nice day and around 65 degrees. After a quick breakfast we headed out to hunt. This spot was very thick with a very small shooting lane and at times we had to get either on our knees or had to lay down to get a shot. The first hare was struck right away and the others headed into the thick cedars and ran all over the place for an hour but we just couldn’t see them. Finally, we caught a break and a hare ran by Stan but he missed (and believe me it’s easy to miss). So I got my gun ready after hearing Stan shoot. Mr. Hare crossed by me and with a quick shot, this hare ended up in the bag. I didn’t even have time to put it in the bag when the dogs came across another hare and they were off again chasing this hare when I decided to crawl into the cedars and sit on a small stump crouched really low. About fifteen minutes later, here comes number two and I hit him but he kept on going down toward a little stream and the whole pack followed him. So, I came out to watch just in time as all six dogs dove into the stream. Then they all swam across the stream to see the hare just on the other side. They caught it in the high grass. I wish I had a video camera with me; words don’t do that chase any justice. I retrieved the hare and the pack jumped another right away. This chase lasted for over an hour and ended on a shot by Doc Skinner’s Beretta single shot twenty eight-gauge shotgun. With three in the bag it was time to change packs and the area we were hunting in. So we moved down the road and decided to hike back in with pack number two. We went in a quarter of a mile with this pack but it was worth it as there were hare all over this spot. We spotted two hare running in front of the dogs. The action was fast and furious and when all was said and done six more hare were in the bag. With little time left in the day, we decided to hunt a small area, which worked out pretty good. This little run ended in a two hour split run with all the excuses in the world like, “I had the safety still on,” or “Just plain missed that shot,” until Dave Wood finally ended that run and the day. Day two ended with ten hare in the bag.
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