MIKE GILES: Red hot rabbit action

Submitted Photo

Pictured are, from left, kneeling, Connor Stokes, Charlie Stokes, Charles Stokes, Mike Carter, Michael Carter, Amanda Knighten and Luke Knighten; standing, Morris Knighton and Byron Fritz.


Shortly after arriving at our hunting destination in Noxubee County, Charlie Stokes and Morris Knighton let their dogs out of the truck, and they started hunting. In just a few minutes the beagles jumped a rabbit and struck a trail, and the hunt was on. Two packs of beagles were barking, bawling and all chiming into a harmonic sound reverberating throughout the surrounding hills.

Pow! Pow! Shotguns roared after a short chase, and our rabbit hunt was off to a rousing success only minutes into the hunt. The beagles had completed a figure eight with the rabbit and turned him right into the line of hunters. Though there was a miss or two, one hunter’s aim was true and cut him down with a volley. There’s nothing much more exciting than having a pack of beagles bearing down on you and the anticipation that comes from knowing the rabbit might pop out right in front of you at any second.

Minutes later, the beagles jumped another rabbit, and the barking and bawling intensified as the dogs chased the rabbit further up the hill into the cutover and pushed him almost out of hearing range before they turned and headed back.

Pow! Pow! Shotguns roared as the rabbit raced through the brush and continued on. The dogs got closer and closer until the rabbit turned again and headed back towards the creek bottom.

Tic-boom! This time Mike Carter’s aim was true, and the rabbit was history and would soon make for a succulent meal of fried rabbit and brown gravy for the fortunate hunter.

Stokes lives in West Point, and his dad, Charles, lives near Louisville, and they’ve been training beagles and hunting rabbits most of their lives.

Knighton came down from Cedar Bluff with his daughter Amanda and grandson Luke along with Mike Carter and his son Michael, and they hit the woods full force charging into the briar patches, jumping rabbits and shooting a few, too. Knighton and friends have been training and running dogs for about 35 years as well.

Noontime meal

Around noon we joined Charles Higginbotham back at the camp as he fried up some of his tasty fish. Higginbotham was raised in the area and learned a few things about hunting and cooking, too. There’s nothing much better than eating a hot piece of Higginbotham’s succulent fried fish as soon as they come out of the grease. Charles’ wife, Dale, was also in the camp frying up some scrumptious hush puppies thanks to Beau Jack’s tasty hush puppy mix.

Trophy deer mounts were displayed on the walls of the camp house and were testimony to the good hunting that had been enjoyed for years. Higginbotham’s daughter Amy Adcock had one of the largest on the wall, an impressive buck she harvested a few years ago. Her three sons were along for the hunt, as well as her brother Brad Higginbotham.

The Higginbothams hosted the hunt and provided the succulent lunch fare, and it made for a great day in the outdoors. Rabbit hunting is no doubt fun, but it’s the relationships and camaraderie you have with friends, both new and old, that make it special — and the good food was just icing on the cake.

Afternoon hunt

We made yet another drive with the crackerjack beagles, and they were soon on the run again bawling, howling and barking as they drove a rabbit by another line of hunters. After they had passed my location, the dogs struck and off they went again. This time I spotted a rabbit slipping out from the frenzy and cutting across a lane, providing me with an opportunity. The next stander was positioned just past where the rabbit crossed, so I let him pass for fear of shooting somebody accidentally.

The dogs drove the rabbit past several hunters, and at least one missed the shot before another killed the rabbit. I called the drivers over to where the other rabbit passed by me, and in minutes they struck a trail on it. The race was short-lived, however, as the rabbit tried to run past another stander and was promptly shot.

After regrouping, the dogs gave chase again, and the rabbit ran into the pine thicket and ran circles and figure eights for a couple hours before the dog men called them off and called it a day. The dogs were about as good as I’ve seen, but the cutover and pine plantation was so thick you could hardly spot a rabbit to get a shot when they came through.

After a fine deer season, I finished the small game season off with a fine rabbit hunt while making a few more good friends. If you ever have a chance to hunt with the Higginbothams, then don’t pass it up, as you’re sure to have a large time with good food, friends and excellent hunting!

Call Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or email mikegiles18@comast.net.

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