The rusty roll of old fence was my first stop on this winter day. Long stripped off the cedar posts and cast aside it now was a good place for rabbits to seek shelter. Almost a sure bet it harbored a rabbit or two, and today was no exception. I could see the tracks from the night before, they led in but not out. The tall grasses grew dense in the confines of the wire, protected by the harsh winter winds. Perfect places like this one are always worth a good going over. After a good round of kicks, the wire fortress gave up a fleeing rabbit, like always I was caught off guard. The first part of the rabbits departure was a series of fast leg work, followed by the long leaps that can change direction almost in mid-air. From years past I knew where the runway was so I simply waited until my speeding friend found it’s path. I figured I’d shoot him then. It’s times like these that I wonder if I am as smart as I think. The rabbit found the path but turned the wrong way. I never saw it again that day. A light snow fell the night before and my hopes of finding more hiding rabbits was still strong. I knew the past couple of days had been fiercely cold, the wind howled day long and into the nights. The sun was shining today; rabbits would be out on the south sides of the wood lot clearings. Coming up to my favorite deadfall one step was all it took to flush a cottontail and one shot had game in the bag. I gutted the bunny and placed the entrails high in a hawthorn tree for the birds to feast on.
I was close to a favorite spot just inside the woods where I had boiled tea while hunting before. So with my trusty tin can and a couple of tea bags I sat down to build a fire. Years ago a farmer had cut wood here, the stumps were 18 inches high and just right for a seat. The fire boiled my tea water and as I sat admiring my rabbit, I noticed something strange near the base of a tree some 30 yards away. I sat drinking the tea and wondering if it could really be a rabbit? I had just walked through that area, certainly it would have flushed. Then as I was getting the fire out and gun ready I noticed an eye. Rabbits eyes always give them away. Once you see the eye you’d better be ready to shoot, they seem to know by then, their spotted.
This one never ran and a good shot wasted no meat. I now had two bunnies, plenty for myself, time to head back to the farmhouse. “Did you catch any” granny asked? Not wanting to seem rude and try to explain that I killed two I simply said “yes two”. “I’ll put the coffee on for you, are you hungry I have stuffed red peppers ready for you, I’ll make you a plate, put them rabbits downstairs until your done eating”. Granny was not my granny but she sure made you feel like you were family. After a meal and a half I cleaned the rabbits and place them in grannies freezer. She would cook them some cold afternoon along with homemade gravy and the works. I would listen to old stories of her husband and his cronies hunting the same spots in the 30s that I just had.
How they would shoot all types of game, and leave it for her to clean and cook while they went to the local tavern. How she helped plaster the farmhouse walls, and plow fields with a steam engine tractor.
My rabbit hunting at the farm was more of a history lesson than a hunt. I always enjoyed taking the time to listen to her stories, even though sometimes I forget about them. However, show me a snow covered wood lot, toss in an old farmhouse or even the remains of a old windmill, and I’ll remember the rabbit hunts at grannies farm. The whistle of the teakettle, the clean tiled walls trimmed in stainless and a huge white stove all come back to me, when I think about the farm.
Sometimes when I see and old roll of fence, I can’t help but kick it a few times. Hey is that…over there… a rabbit eye?