[caption id="attachment_2569" align="alignleft" width="199" caption="Autumn Clarke and Tobey"][/caption] It’s the last week of the semester here at Berry College, and it is rough. Everyone walks around in pajamas and sweats, and I can’t count how many times I’ve seen people walk out of the dining hall with to-go boxes packed to the brim with food, just so they won’t have to leave their studies for food for the day. I’ve heard rumors that the library is packed to the gills with students from the moment it opens at 7 am until it closes at 2 am, so I’ve been chipping away at my own studying in my dorm. Now that my roommate has finished her finals, along with several of my friends, and gone home for a one month long hiatus, I’ve only got one thing on my mind: hunting. I, along with a few other unfortunate souls, am stuck here until Friday to take the Principles of Cell Biology final exam. On one hand, I’m ready to attack it; at this point, it is the only thing standing between me and a month long break, thus completely opening up my schedule to hunt. On the other hand, my mind doesn’t want to focus; I have various hunting pictures taped on my dorm room wall, and the more I look at them, the more anxious I am to get home. Three pictures really hit home the most for me. One picture is a photo I took of Shakerag’s Georgia and Gemma as puppies when they were getting walked out at our family friends’ farm. I have been able to watch these two grow up over the years, and when I stumbled across this picture of them, it brought back so many memories. Walking them on leashes as they dragged us around the farm, noses stuck to the ground, howling the moment anyone stepped foot into the barn, watching them knock each other to the ground as they played, but then falling down themselves as their uncoordinated paws and long, floppy ears got in the way, and let’s not forget when they put the bobcat up in the old barn! Today, being able to pick them out of the pack is really exciting for me. Their black and tan coats sometimes make it difficult when they’re running in the pack, but I can surely find them when I’m visiting the kennels. Although this photo of them snuggled up together in a deep sleep as puppies may not be indicative of how active they were, it sure is a trip back in time.
There’s one I have of a tricolor hound named Mason that I found on Shakerag’s website. The photographer must have squatted on the ground as the hounds were trotting towards him, and it looks like Mason is looking straight into the camera as he jogs forward. For a while, Mason was my favorite hound, simply because he was easy for me to identify. His ears are almost a roan color with white mixed with the light brown, he’s got a lot of white on him, and all over his white marks, he’s got light brown flecks. But this photo shows that incredible stare hounds will give you, as they seem to really look deep into your eyes. The last photo that really makes me “hound-sick” would have to be the one of Shakerag’s Munchkin and me. After Shakerag’s junior hunt in 2009, I went down to the kennels to visit hounds with a couple friends who had hunted with us that morning. As I hung over the fence, desperately trying to work on my hound-identifying skills, my friend took pictures. I leaned up against the fence, arms hanging on the other side, still in my tweed coat from breakfast, and I would try to call out the names of hounds nearby and see if I could get them to come see me. In 2009, I was pretty rusty at naming hounds, but I was trying! Along with Mason and a few others, I have always been able to identify Munchkin and Muchacha. They both have jet black coats, with some golden brown points, a white stripe down the middle of their faces, and their light brown eyes appear to be outlined with dark marks of eyeliner. In the photo of me and Munchkin, my hands are scratching right behind her ears, and my mouth is open as I’m caught mid-sentence talking to her, while other hounds mill about below us. In return, Munchkin, as she still does to this day when I pet her, has jumped up to see me, has both ears perked forward, is holding my gaze, has one front paw supporting her weight on the fence, and the other resting on the front of my coat. She will stand there just like that as long as I will scratch her, and every time I look at this photo, it makes me want to reach forward and be petting her again. As I glance at the clock to see how much time I have left in this study break, I realize I’ve gone a bit past my plan; it’s easy for me to write endlessly about what I love! Unfortunately the biology book is calling my name, and as much as I would like to ignore it, it’s time for me to buckle down and get this last final out of the way. Besides, Mr. Wayne just texted me, “Want to go hunting Saturday?” Now I have motivation! The better I know the material, the sooner I’ll finish my final, so I can get home earlier on Friday and begin the ritual; loading the trailer, clipping ears and muzzles, and polishing bits and stirrups until they shine, all in hopes that when we return Saturday afternoon, they are covered in flecks of dirt from a great run.