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Today is May 23, 2022

Outdoors

February’s beagle music

By Tony Kinton

February’s beagle music

When beagles bawl, chop, and squeal on a brisk morning — frost glinting from winter woodlots and fallow fields — the world is changed, somehow made more pleasant and agreeable for those who hear. There is music. Not as scripted as a Dvorak symphony perhaps, but musical just the same. Beagle music is visceral, sometimes plaintive, and sometimes jubilant. Regardless of its timbre, this music impacts anyone who chooses to listen.

I learned the thrill of beagle choruses early on, a result of my dad getting me a pair of littermates, Herman and Homer. We chased rabbits regularly until I entered college. The rabbit business slowed significantly at that juncture in time, and eventually, my dogs were gone. Pleasant memories were all that remained, and these can still bring quiet tears to my eyes. Those beagles were instrumental in my growing up.

Rabbit hunting and beagle employment are generally rather social affairs. Occasionally only one or two hunters and a like number of dogs, but more often an expansive gathering of both entities is required. Old and young; fathers and mothers and children and grandchildren make up the human participants. Sires and dams and pups of multiple generations represent the beagles. They are all there for the thrill, the comradery, and the music.

I no longer have beagles. Age might be the reason, but most probably a busy schedule in the writing business and life in general, even if I am old, is the culprit. Demands such as regular travel would be unfair to the little hounds. They were born to hunt rabbits, and sequestering them into some confines other than that would be most unkind.

But I must go a time or two each year. Beg an outing from locals who have beagles, I do. And I tote a shotgun, a little 28 these days. A handful of shells go along as well, but I find myself, more often than not, stuffing those same shells, unfired, back into their original container when I get home. Seems I take my enjoyment from past memories and present surroundings of that day with fellow hunters, dog, and human. Old and young are involved in both categories.

I also entertain, during those begged hunts, the poignant recognition that some hunters, canines, or Homo sapiens are on their first excursion while others are on their last. A sobering reality but reality just the same, and a reality I have come to embrace more easily in recent years than in years past. Beagle music seems to soothe the discomfiture of such contemplation.

Have you missed a beagle symphony this year? If so, February still offers potential for the experience.

 

Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. He lives in Carthage and is a Central Electric member. Visit www.tonykinton.com for more information.

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