My father-in-law, Wesley Weinkauf, loved the outdoors. He golfed at his Butte des Morts Country Club course and fished the Fox Valley’s rivers and lakes in fall and summer, and then in winter, he’d take Mike out to hunt rabbits.
You should know that Wes had many beagles over the years, and he named every one of them Mike. Why he decided on Mike as a name, I can’t say. And why he named every one of them Mike, I don’t know, but that makes writing this story easier. I can tell the story of his many Mikes, and I don’t have to differentiate. I doubt that Wes named them all Mike for my convenience, but I do appreciate it.
I don’t know who got more enjoyment by being outside in brisk temperatures, but Wes and Mike were as compatible as a dollop of butter on bread. Wes enjoyed nothing more than the sound of a beagle’s howl while on the trail of a rabbit.
Wes shot a rabbit now and then, but I think it was the brisk air in his face and his dog’s companionship that drove him into the wilds. Table food may have provided some motivation as Wes came from a strong German heritage, and hasenpfeffer was a favorite within his family.
Come the first signs of winter, Wes would take Mike into the swamp where rabbits were likely to be, set him loose, and sit and wait for them to come round. You don’t have to follow beagles into the hunt.
They’ll scent and scare up the rabbit, and then the chase is on. You can just wait awhile until the rabbit comes back in your direction. Some say that rabbits circle, and maybe they do. But it’s more likely that the rabbit has a limited home range that he’s familiar with. He’ll stay in that range, and sooner or later, he’ll pass by where you’re stationed.
A skilled woodsman and rabbit hunter like Wes could tell when his dog was on the trail of a rabbit, or whether he’d gotten distracted and was chasing a deer. Wes knew that once Mike got after a deer, it’d be a long wait, because deer don’t circle back. So instead of waiting around for Mike’s eventual return, Wes removed his coat and spread it out on the ground, and then got into his car and returned home.
He got back into his car the next morning, returned to where he’d left his coat, picked up Mike—who’d be comfortably stretched out on the coat—and take Mike and the coat home to where they eagerly awaited their next fun time together.