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I recently enjoyed a rabbit hunt at Willow Oaks Plantation in Eden, North Carolina. Famous North Carolina writer, Eddie Nickens will henceforth be known in my mind's eye as Deadeye Eddie after making a remarkable shot at a streaking cottontail. The beagles had chased the cottontail from a brier patch to a gravel road. The bounding bunny saw the error of its ways and tried to duck back into the thicket, just before Eddie called a halt to its progress with a load of No. 7 1/2 shot fired from a 12-gauge Remington Versa Max Sportsman. The Sportsman version was a perfect for rabbit hunting because it is a Spartan, no-frills, lower priced version of the original, without the fancy frills like the rubber pads at the gripping points of stock and forearm. Obviously, in the hands of a pro like Eddie, it gets the job done.
Deadeye Eddie hoisted the rabbit high in one hand and the Versa Max in the other while I clapped my hands, waved and shouted. But I wasn't complimenting him on the great shot. I was trying to get his attention so he would turn around to see the rabbit the dogs were actually running cross the road in full flight with five beagles tight on his heels. The rabbit in his hands had just been sneaking away from all the commotion, hoping to escape, unnoticed and unscathed.
There was Eddie, standing in a perfect X position, with the action taking place behind him where he could not see it. But I could the chase right through his legs. While I wasn't able to capture a photo or, better yet, a video for posterity, the scene will be etched forever in my memory. Such events are ingredients in the recipes for the greatest hunts of our lives. Simply add good friends, great dogs, fantastic food, comfortable lodging, compliments over the hits, and condolences for the misses. Stir well, serve and enjoy.
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