When I was a lot younger, rabbit hunting was a must for me every Saturday.  I have had fifty dogs in my life, only three good ones. And that is the average.  You need to own twenty dogs to have a good one. Never mind breeding or training. It is like a solid marriage.  Luck is important. One day I was hunting on the coast and a couple of locals had joined us. There were a lot of rabbits in the cover, but the dogs were having a hard time.  Before I crucify my dogs, I need to be honest. It was 10 degrees and windy. To make matters worse, there was a crust that lugged the rabbit but not the dogs. Worst conditions you can imagine for dogs and rabbits.

We had been in the woods for about an hour and I had heard two barks out of my dogs.  One local hollered to his friend:

“To Hell with this.  Go get Blinky”. I heard it and if Blinky turned out to be a dog, I was going to be insulted.  “What else could Blinky be?” You can say bad things about my wife, but my dogs? Those are fighting words.  I headed for the road. If Blinky was going to appear, I needed a ring side seat.

The local returned in his beat-up truck and opened the door.  The ugliest dog I have ever seen jumped out. “Go get a rabbit Blinky”, the local instructed.  Blinky needed no such orders. He had been there before, and I don’t mean in that cover. First, the dog had no hound in it.  No beagle, blue tick, walker or red bone. Nothing we rabbit hunters love so much. He was over weight and had short legs. If you had to guess, you would say cocker spaniel.  But attached to those stumpy legs were a set of paws that looked like bear paws. Blinky had oversized feet. I chuckled to myself. This dog was never going to run a rabbit under any conditions, much less the ones he was now in.  Blinky headed into the woods.

In no time I heard a dog barking that was clearly not one of mine.  The bark was an “arf”, much like a cocker spaniel. No bay or chop or anything resembling a hound to it.  Old Blinky was not going to fool me. I have been with a lot of dogs that bark for nothing. They run through the woods barking like crazy and there is not a rabbit anywhere near it.  It had to be that. Blinky was not only barking, he was moving in the woods. The dogs that bark for nothing usually go slowly. By location of his barks, he was flying. I wanted to get in front of him, but the one time I saw Blinky, whatever he was chasing, if anything, had gone by before I got there.  I did notice Blinky could almost run atop the crust. His oversized feet were of great value. My dogs never joined him, further reinforcing my belief that he was bogus. In the meantime, there was a lot of shooting from my other hunters, and if nothing else, Blinky was moving some strays. Still Blinky never stopped barking and continued to move in a circle.

Finally, I stood in an alder run.  I knew Blinky had gone through it before, and if you find where the dog has crossed, it is very likely that it will come back—if, and only if it is running a rabbit, something I found less and less likely by the minute.  Suddenly, I saw a rabbit flash across the alders. Could it be? No, Blinky moved away and the rabbit was a stray—our talk for a rabbit not in front of the dogs. Blinky, started to circle and I moved up the alder run at the location I thought Blinky had just crossed.  It did not take long. Blinky had driven a half circle and never missed a beat. Blinky was headed right toward me, and if anything was ahead of it, I was going to see it. I would have bet a lot that Blinky was running nothing. I would have lost.

When a running dog gets right on you and you have seen nothing, it is almost proof positive that the dog is running nothing.  Still, rabbits can do strange things. A rabbit might be fifty feet in front of the dog, or a half mile. On one occasion I was hunting on good conditions and we had three dogs that were driving.  I was on a wide road and the dogs were coming right toward me. The dogs got very close and I figured that rabbit had turned and gone back. One thing is certain. I did not see a rabbit, but these were not fake dogs.  The dogs hit the road and were barking wide open as they crossed and continued on the other side of the road. The rabbit had crossed, and I had not seen it. Happens to the best of us, but I was shaken by that screw up.  The dogs circled, and I was going to get a reprieve. The dogs were on me again and no rabbit. They hit the road exactly where they had before and were wide open. I had not seen the rabbit again? When they did it a third time, I was beside myself.  I went over to investigate. I could see the dog tracks as they approached the road and lo and behold there was a wide culvert under the road. The rabbit was running in the culvert under the road. No wonder I had not seen it. The scent was good enough that the dogs could smell the rabbit, even though it was in the culvert!  The dogs had crossed on the road, above the culvert. What about Blinky? There was no culvert crossing those alders. Was it running a rabbit?

If there was a rabbit, I had guessed right.  Blinky was on me and wasn’t going to fool me.  I either saw the rabbit or there was none. The rabbit burst out of the thicket with Blinky hot on him.  I fired two shots with my 22 and the rabbit was dead. Blinky came up to him and left abruptly. I have had dogs eat a dead rabbit and some pay no attention.  Blinky had no interest in the dead rabbit. He started another and another and I had fallen in love with Blinky.

I set out to buy Blinky.  It was the dog of dogs, and I knew that.  I could not buy one anywhere else, and I should have paid attention to that when I undertook this folly.  I followed the local when he returned Blinky to this abode. It was a trailer, not well kept, but as I would learn, good for Blinky.  A week later I set out for Blinky’s trailer with five one-hundred dollar bills. This was going to be a cinch. Five Hundred Dollars in those days was the equivalent of 1500 dollars today.  I would ger Blinky.

 

NEXT ARTICLE:  BUYING BLINKY. THE LESSON OF A LIFETIME

 

MARKET REPORT

The market fell twenty percent from its highs, the definition of a bear market.  But why? Business is good. Earnings have been great. Gasoline is cheap. Unemployment is low.  The yield curve is not inverted. These are all great signs. For my money it is the uncertainty in Washington.  I don’t want to hear Nancy Pelosi telling me the wall is crazy nor Trump tell me it is a necessity. They are both nuts and neither knows anything about whether a wall would be effective.  It would be nice to hear someone who knows something about this issue, but so far just the politicians. I will say one thing. This is Donald Trump’s shutdown. He said it to Chuck Shumer on national tv.  Shutdown’s are a sin, and we need to have a constitutional amendment prohibiting them. No wonder the market has been tanking. It told us that Washington was crazy and the shut down proved again that the market knows.