What do you get when you combine 11,000 acres of scenic rolling woodlands, gorgeous fall leaves, clear blue skies and cool weather with 60 enthusiastic hunters and several packs of hard-running dogs?

Answer: a hunt that is "doggone" exciting!

That's the scenario I encountered when I visited Lobutcha Hunting Club on the first weekend of dog season, and although I personally prefer to still hunt with a bow, there's absolutely nothing as exciting as an opening weekend at a dog club like Lobutcha, which has land in three counties - Atalla, Choctaw and Winston.

Located near Kosciusko on the highest rolling hills I've seen in Mississippi and with more than 45 miles of well-maintained gravel roads on the property, these avid doghunters, led by President Rick Melton, VP David Weatherford and Treasurer Jeff McLaurin, hunt hard as they use modern technology to keep up their hard-running hounds to get ahead of the deer they are pursuing.

Having antennas attached to their dogs' collars and using high-powered CB radios, the entourage races from place to place trying to get ahead of where the deer is expected to cross the road the next time. I failed to get everyone's CB "handles," but here's a list of the colorful names I managed to scribble down:

River Rat, Five-O, Radar, C.C. Rider, Chip Man, Pet Monkey, Catfish, Bucket, Birddog, Squirrel, Al Capone, Zeb, Smoky Toad, Blue Goose, Possum, Guitar Man, Coonie, Coach, J.B., Conan and Bucksin.

Coonie (Al Herbert) and his cabin mate Scott Sones were my hosts during the Friday afternoon I arrived at camp since the officers had other commitments and arrived later that night. As you would expect of someone named Coonie, the meal he prepared of eggs, grilled onions, hash browns and hot coffee during midday was sumptuous! The ensuing stories and fellowship that followed were on par with the cooking as well.

Afterwards, Coonie put me in his truck and gave me a tour of the vast wilderness we would be hunting the next day. Having spent many years exploring the Ozarks, I was immediately struck by the similarity the colorful leaves and high hills had with the Ozarks' bigger and better known terrain as well as by the cleanliness of the roadways, plots and stands. It was readily evident that the members of Lobutcha take much pride in the appearance of their leased land.

Being an avid explorer who's just got to see what's over the next hill, I surmise that if I belonged to Lobutcha I'd end up being just skin and bones and lost somewhere in the outermost boundaries of the camp.

The campgrounds are on a long gravel road just off the blacktop where members have built or brought in a myriad of different styles of housing including campers, RVs, trailers, huts and so on with the official meeting place being around a roaring campfire in front of Melton's cabin.

Melton told me the camp prefers to spend its money on keeping up the roads, plots and stands rather than having an expensive camphouse, which enables them to also keep down the cost of the dues. I was surprised when he told me how reasonable the dues were for a camp with so much land.

Still-hunters are also welcome and prevalent at Lobutcha, representing about a third of the membership, and they, like all members, have their own private two stands no one else can hunt; then each member may also erect two more stands that others may hunt if that member is not hunting that stand. Most of the still-hunters enjoy having the best of both worlds, going off to the private place, but having a large pack of dogs to perhaps push an unexpecting buck or doe right by their stands.

The minimum buck harvest allowed at Lobutcha must be at least six points and have at least a 14-inch-wide rack. Does harvested must weigh at least 65 pounds. Members abide by the state law for numbers of bucks each member may harvest and have no maximum on does other than the state law.

During the opening hunt on a brisk 50-degree Saturday morning, members using CBs stayed in touch with each other as the first packs of dogs were released by the "dogmen." Several groups of trucks with about 10 hunters per group were taken out and placed as standers along the other roads a safe distance from each other.

When the dogs were released, all participants listened to the hardy hounds howling loudly and communicated with one another via their CBs as to which direction the deer was headed. Those standers in its path were forewarned to be ready.

Then either shots would ring out from a stander in the deer's path or the CBs would light up the airways as to which way it turned or got through their ranks. Then the entourage would all pile back into their trucks and haul out to set up another blockade farther away.

Meanwhile, the still-hunters would be in their stands hoping the rowdy ruckus would send an unsuspecting deer by their shooting houses or tree stands.

All in all, it's an exciting way of hunting guaranteed to generate an adrenaline rush.

Later in the morning, another group of handlers would release another group of fresh hounds at another site, and the process would repeat itself.

As at most Mississippi hunting camps, the food, fun and fellowship were abundant in large quantities, and I once again left with a headful of warm, wonderful memories.

If interested in joining Lobutcha, call Rick Melton at 601-479-7605.

For autographed copies of Mississippi Hunting Camps ($81) or Tales of Old Rocky Hill ($18), mail check/money order to: Bill R. Lea, P.O. Box 321023, Jackson,MS 39232.

To schedule a visit to your camp, call 601-502-4720 or email billrlea@yahoo.com.