Beagles Hunt For Prizes
Mike Johnson’s interest in beagles began after viewing photos of his grandfather with hunting dogs. The grandson never knew George “Huck” Bartlow, but seeing pictures resulted in Mike getting his first beagle at age 12.
“Mike Frantz and Mike Schneck were my first rabbit hunting buddies, then I met Charlie Flexer of Williamsport who got me interested in entering trials at the Lycoming Beagle Club,” Mike said.
It wasn’t long until his brother, Matt and father, David followed suit and rabbit hunting became a family affair. The men also scout for deer during archery and rifle seasons, mainly from their cabin on Tom Hill Hollow Road.
Sometimes the love of the hunt takes them to the northernmost part of upstate New York where showshoe rabbits are numerous. “This year we hunted in minus eight degree weather with snow shoes on our feet,” said Matt who was on winter break from Bloomsburg University.
As members of the beagle club, the Johnsons participate in semi-annual hunts vying for prizes for the heaviest hares. Hunters pre-register, then go to their favorite spot and return for weigh-ins. The state game commission’s quoto is six rabbits per hunter per day, and the individual with the four heaviest hares wins.
Of their excursions the father said, “The boys are better shots than I am. Just seeing the dogs run is what I enjoy plus it’s an opportunity to be outside as a family.”
As for cleaning the game, Mike said, “We clean our own but we’ve got to give credit for thorough inspections to mom, Alice Jane. She goes over about a hundred or so rabbits a year and the menus she has could fill another article.”
All Muncy natives, Mike currently resides near Picture Rocks where he operates Huck’s Run Kennels, named in honor of his granddad. Mike raises beagles ever looking for those with the best tracking instincts and is proudest of Tucker, an AKC field champion. “I keep sifting through them, keeping the best, selling the others and if one fails to have a good nose, I’ll give it to someone for a pet,” he said.
Johnson is currently president of the Lycoming Beagle Club, a longtime organization with a sixty plus membership. The group will sponsor a rabies clinic April 10 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the clubhouse on Beagle Club Road in Fairfield Township.