River Bottom Beagles



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Up a ladder stand in the old oak tree in the corner of the field, between the big old branches. The sun edging up to the horizon and winking out the stars one by one.

Doing my part to keep the deer herd in check. Gosh darn deer love to eat up the white pines I’m trying to bring back to this country. Besides that, they carry around a bunch of good, healthy meat that grew up wild and free.

Sky suddenly seems kind of grey. The tops of the trees are hidden by fog like they are sinking into the water upside down. Atmospheric conditions must have all lined up to allow the river to escape its bed and drift out over the land. More water turns into air until the weight makes it slowly sink back down to the ground. The river’s cold breath licks my face and finds it’s way down inside my warm clothes. Makes frost where it brushes up against grass and trees.

The stillness is broken by the beagles up in the yard. Law starts in with his song, one by one the rest join in. Long bawls and short, deep and soft and sharp all blend together. It all lasts for a minute or two and then, one by one they drop out until it’s quiet again.

Isaac Bell, in The Huntsman’s Log Book wrote that hounds singing in kennel harmonize, all singing in the same key as the hound that started it. If a different hound starts the next round in a different key the rest follow his lead. I don’t know enough about music to know if my beagles read Bell’s book or not.

The beagles like to sing at the break of day. Coyotes sing almost every night in the swamp, right up behind the house. They sing their own kind of music. Heavy metal next to the beagles stone cold country. Deer season is high times for a coyote that mostly makes it’s living by sharp teeth and sharper wits and maybe their song is happy compared to the beagles sad song about being locked up until deer season is over. But the coyotes song is the same all year and beagles and coyotes never sing together.

They do listen and pay attention to each other. The beagles hair stands all up and they run inside and bark to say their not really afraid of you when the coyotes cut loose. Then there’s been times out running rabbits at night with a big pack of beagles when the coyotes say we’re not afraid of you either but don’t come too close.

The lazy fall sun slowly gets to work making the day and I head up to the house for breakfast.

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Tamarack/black spruce swamp

After all the leaves are gone, the tamaracks are the last to turn color and loose their needles.

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Norway pines planted in 1976.

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The river

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Out driving in the woods with the dogs we’ve been seeing lots of eagles lately. The young ones are kind of brown and white speckled, they get the white head when they get older.

The first eagle I ever saw was up in Canada. You just didn’t see them here. Now they are doing quite well.

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No Hunting or Trespassing

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