The islands on the Mississippi were best for large numbers of these large rabbits.
On this particular hunt our plan was to go to Harden Point Island, the care taker there was an ole bud, Sonny Cooper.
Sonny had commercial fished our Tunica Lake for years. He had a barge and would ferry hunters to Harden Point Island during high water. Sonny caught me at the ramp one day and said Anderson & Tully were through and pulled out and would not be back on the island till May. We had a snow coming and Swampers were in all the tops of fallen trees A & T had left.
“Could you get us up a hunt, stay in his cabin on the island, and could hunt of an afternoon and a morning?”
So Baby Gale, Strick, Sonny, and I came over about 1 pm. Sonny, his Weimreiner dog, and the three of us headed off the back steps. It was about 1:30 and the Swampers were wild. The dog was great, he would be on point and one of us would chunk a stick in. The Swampers would break and run out of the downed tree-top to an opening and flatten out. Ya had to take him quick and one shot better do it. You wouldn’t get another, he would be gone. After an hour we had about 2 each, the Swampers so fat you had to gut ’em to hold more than two on your belt.
I was in a good spot but missed several because my pants kept fallin’ down, trying to tote more that two on my belt. Baby said drop ’em in a pile at the road we’ll pick ’em up at dark. So we hunted till dark when it started snowing. The Swampers had scattered. We’d picked up 15 in all, and headed back to Sonny’s cabin where we cleaned and skinned Swampers till 7. We had them washed, salt, peppered and flowered ready for hot grease. With a bowl of hot gravy, some cat hayed bisquets, and some mashed taters.
We wuz ready for a feast. Big ole Swampers taste a lot like chicken, but better. You know how they say range chicken is so much better cause they eat wild things? Well, Swampers ain’t got no sto’ or any folks to fix him no groceries. So it’s richer meat, it was the best I had ever had.
Next morning it had snowed 3’’ but that warm cabin had the smell of oak wood burning in the stove. We drank a big hot cup of black coffee – with 2 fingers of Bourbon in it – grabbed some rabbit hindquarters, 2 cold biscuits and out the door we went. With a 10 mile an hour north wind comin’ off the river, ‘twas brisk until the hunt got started.
The old Weimreiner was hot, and he got too close several times, was almost a goner. Sonny would have never gotten over shooting his prized dog, but it didn’t happen. End of the hunt we had a total of 50 Swampers. Had a hunter’s supper at Grand Daddy’s Commissary. To this day, all say they never ate so good.
Thank you Mamie and Margaret.
Keep your line wet!