Hares in Paradise (or Not)

Discussion in 'MichiganSmallGame.com' started by heronwheels, Jan 10, 2018.

  1. heronwheels


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    Finally, it happened, my long anticipated trip to the Upper Peninsula in pursuit of Snowshoe Hares. Last Tuesday after work, I dropped my dogs off at the folks’ house and headed north from there to St. Ignace for the night. Driving conditions were less than ideal but I made it safely to the motel after about 6 hours of driving.

    I’ve been spending a lot of time poring over onX maps and MI HUNT looking for likely public land hare spots (based on my limited knowledge). After some advice on this forum, I decided to spend my first morning hunting a little 40 acre parcel of the Hiawatha National Forest north of the bridge. I strapped on my snowshoes, grabbed my shotgun and headed into the cedars. After a short 20 yards of travel, I saw a slight movement in the thick undergrowth, my very first snowshoe hare sighting! Unfortunately, I was too slow and despite my attempts to stop it, it disappeared as quickly as it appeared. I spent several hours on that little parcel, crawling on hands and knees following track after track through low hanging cedar boughs. I ended up removing my barrel about 10 times due to paranoia over a snow-blocked barrel, this gun’s original barrel already falling victim to that fate when my now 69 year old dad blew it up grouse hunting as a teen. My first day ended without a shot fired but my excitement was definitely high!

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  2. heronwheels


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    The next morning found me in Paradise standing at a gas pump in -9 degree temperatures (-21 degree windchill) before dawn chatting with an older gentleman about the frigid north wind and how Alaska was in better place temperature wise than we were.

    I headed back to the area I hunted on the first day, the lure of actually catching a glimpse of my prey a strong draw. Sunshine on the fresh layer of snow made the quiet woods even more alluring, the frigid temps knocking that allure down a few notches. After following track after track, using my binos to look in likely resting spots and seeing nothing, I headed back to the Jeep to check out another spot.

    A deer superhighway headed through the farmed pines into a solid wall of cedars. I ducked into the dark woods, the creaking sounds of the blowing treetops adding to the eerie feeling inside. With the day’s colder temps, I was having a rough time keeping warm. I decided to test my winter fire making skills and built a small warming fire.

    After completing my second day, I was beginning to feel like hare hunting was some weird activity in which I walk around with a shotgun, tripping over buried logs (swearing), desperately trying to keep both eyeballs in tact (twigs are stabby).

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    Hard to stay hydrated with frozen water bottle!
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    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
    ajkulish, Burt Davis, reddog1 and 2 others like this.

  3. heronwheels


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    I’ve talked about it with friends before, explosive bliss, that feeling of being full to bursting. Camped out with my dog on a mountainside in New Mexico, beer in hand, watching the sunset. Sitting by a campfire in the middle of the Utah desert with my dogs, endless stars stretched out above us. Snowshoeing in waist deep snow, my grandpa’s shotgun in hand, through a silent Upper Peninsula forest.

    Yep, despite another day of hare hunting failure, day four of hunting was one to remember! There’s something special about spending time in a place that isn’t saturated with the sights and sounds of civilization. No whine of a snowmobile engine or drone of cars and trucks. Just the creak, whoosh and thump of snow heavy pines shedding their burden. I learned the hard way, don’t take a break under one of those trees, that snow has a surprising amount of force!!

    My trip ended without seeing another hare besides that first glimpse on day one, but I ended the trip with a smile on my face. I learned a lot, spent time in some beautiful places and filled my quota for intense exercise for the week. I’ll be out after them when I can this winter, closer to home, maybe I’ll even pull the trigger once or twice!

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  4. Waif


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    Montcalm Co.
    Well told!
    A finger cot ,or large balloon ect. can help keep the barrel muzzle clear of snow.
    Just enough tension to hold it without being to tight will allow it to come off when firing. Electrical tape has been used but does worse in cold temps and any gun oil.
    Good that you keep checking it though.

    A pair of yellow shooting glasses can help see too, depending on conditions other color or clear can as well. At the least, for being eye guards. I once was poked in the eye when crossing a creek. Did look at the broken stout twig swinging after. Seen double for a week or more out of it. Lucky.

    Congrats on hitting such a site. Hiawatha was a favorite location in the seventies of my youth for hunting.
    If not for aircraft ,that elusive younger sky can be glimpsed sometimes....or at least felt.
  5. growninmi


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    Awesome story and pics.

    We have land and cabin in Paradise..don't get up there in winter though..Our place is even further off the path than most up there.
    It's beautiful anytime of year, but sure is pretty during the winter.
  6. Luv2hunteup


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    At camp in the EUP if not on here
    Great thread. Thanks for sharing.
    heronwheels likes this.
  7. reddog1


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    Eaton Rapids
    Great story, it reminds me of my younger days when I would hunt snowshoe hare in the winter on Drummond Island, without dogs. The solitude is like no other. I've since aquired hounds, several to be exact and the thrill of the sound of the pack coming nearer in pursuit of the white ghost, rivals that of the solitude.
    Keep looking
    You will find them and when you do,that thrill will be forever instilled in your soul.

    Good luck
  8. UncleNorby


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    I can appreciate wanting to hunt with a family heirloom, so I don't blame you for toting that shotgun. A shorter one may help you get on a rabbit in that thick country.
  9. steve339


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    Good read. Thanks for sharing.