Sunday, January 02, 2011

Perfectly Executed 180° Turnaround.

We had one of those runs the other day that tend to get more spectacular, the more time separates it from the actual event.

Dutch brought along "the incorrigible Bob Schulz" (Gazehounds & Coursing, pg 142), and Bob came with his truck box full of young, old, black, red, and silver staghounds. I brought the girls, Willow and Ashley. Dutch's gang included Phyllis, and Stretch (his new hotblood). We were at the big, open field that has produced some very photogenic runs already this season.

We had a couple of 30-second sprints that ended with a spectacular, diving grab by Willow that ended with her muzzle on the hare on the ground and her back legs straight up in the air in the first, and Dutch's Phyllis making the most of the second.

Now, Dutch has a bad back, which has curtailed a lot of his walking in the field over the last month or so. He generally walks with us as far from the trucks as he feels comfortable getting, then waits while the rest of us make big loops in the desert, looking for more jacks to chase. He then watches with his binoculars, and kind of acts like a de-facto "judge". It was during this "resting" period that the third jack jumped. Immediately in front of me, as it turned out, and it wasn't the most fortuitous of starts, as there were no less than two hounds right in front of him.. in his path of travel.

Somehow, the hare negotiated that obstacle, with a hard left turn that left the dogs with their jaws snapping at air.  And the race was on.

When you hear the term, "survival of the fittest"... this is the kind of critter they're usually talking about.  For nearly three minutes- more than a mile and a half- the hounds chased, and turned this jack until they ran out of our site into the draw to our south.  Even then we knew the dogs were still turning it, because we could see periodic puffs of dust arise from the horizon.  Finally the dust stopped, and we knew that either the jack had been caught, or it had made its escape into the heavy creosote bush field across the draw.  It was several more minutes before the very knackered pack of hounds made it back to the trucks. Bloodless.

Later, when we were reliving, and embellishing the tale of the third race over steak and enchiladas at The Campos' Cafe, Dutch remarked that there was one time when he saw Phyllis running right next to the hare, and was looking right at it, when it doubled back, and gained some serious separation from its pursuers.  He thought that was pretty spectacular.

When reviewing my images from the day, I was very happy to find the exact sequence that so impressed Dutch.  And so, without further ado-

We can only hope that this hare, having survived the best our hounds could throw at it, survives further attacks from coyotes, and golden eagles, and bobcats, and other predators, to procreate, and pass these amazing survival skills on so we can continue to have  exciting chases for years to come.  Here's looking at you, kid.

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