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Bare Ground Snowshoe Rabbit Hunt

Rabbit Hunter, March 2012THE RABBIT HUNTER – It was 6 AM and Neil McKay and I headed towards Route 9 with one little 13″ Beagle in the box headed to Dan and Nancy Cardozer’s home in Northfield, ME. We were going to take advantage of this open snowless winter. Snowshoes were in their winter garb of white showing up against the greens spruce and brown under growth.

When we arrived at Dan’s, Joe Gamach and Ted Finnegan were loading their hounds. Dan also had some of his pack in the back of his Jeep. Joe and Ted had been there since Sunday and were only hunting until mid-afternoon then were heading home to Massachusetts. They had enjoyed two days of rabbit hunting with some good runs and a heavy game bag for their effort.

All hounds and hunters were loaded and we were on our way to the hunting grounds. With the release of the hounds, it wasn’t long before a snowshoe was running. This area has an abundance of rabbits. Once the hounds lined out the snowshoe, steady squeals and howls were heard as a little white bundle of fur was being run through the thickets and beaver flowage. Breakdowns started when the rabbit ran through some water.

The hunt carried over to the opposite side of the beaver flowage and this is where the play was going to be. A shot echoed over the spruce tops and then there was silence among the pack. It wasn’t any time until the pack was in full cry on another bunny. How fortunate we are to live in this area where there is an ever constant supply of snowshoe rabbits.

Another shot was heard and there was another rabbit for the pot. Joe was the shooter in both rabbit shots. It was now time for Joe and Jim to load up for home. Time sure flies when one is having fun.

Dan, Neil and I remained in the spruce to see if we could shoot this visible white rabbit. At times the hounds could be seen where the rabbit had been. The long shadows told us that it was time to catch the Beagles and to head for home this day.

Meanwhile, Nancy roasted a big pork ham with carrots, onions and potatoes for our supper. On entering the house, the aroma of this roast filled our nostrils making three ravenous hunters even hungrier. Nancy’s father, Freddy, joined us in consuming this great feast.

Morning came quickly after a nice breakfast of bacon and scrambled eggs. It wasn’t long before we were once again on another tote road in prime snowshoe country. The Beagles weren’t long in ferreting out a rabbit and the race was on once again in a different place. The rabbits ran inside the tote road then followed some spruce cover which came to the edge of the tote. It would then flash across the tote and dive into another spruce point.

Dan tickled one as it crossed back into the spot where it was started. This bunny ran quite a circle even though it had taken a pellet. We never did get this one for the bag but knew some other critter would enjoy a good meal.

Once again it was only minutes and another snowshoe was out of its lair and running ahead of these eager Beagles. It crossed the tote and I threw a shot its way not disturbing a hair. It headed up the mountain with the singing pack in hot pursuit. It wasn’t long before they were coming back down the moun- Bare Ground Snowshoe Rabbit Hunt By Matt Curry, 395A Back Belmont Road, Morrill, ME 04952-3230 tain and crossed the tote again.

A sneaker was spotted crossing and the line was marked for a future start once the snowshoe was shot. This deed was done when Dan tipped it over.

The hounds were shown the line of the sneaker and the race was on down into the spruces. Neil’s shot sounded out, and amazing enough, Neil broke his perfect record of 12 years without shooting a hare. That’s correct. Neil hasn’t shot a snowshoe although he has been hunting rabbits all these years. I guess he must have found out you have to load your shotgun in order for it to go off. It was a large buck snowshoe and one of the biggest we’ve seen in a long time. This was meant to be Neil’s first.

As we past into mid-afternoon Neil’s Willie and two of Dan’s had a rabbit going. Dan’s other two Beagles had one that was running along the edge of the tote road but refused to cross. Again, the long shadows of late afternoon was upon us and I radioed Neil to tell him I was going inside the spruce to see if I could tip this snowshoe over and catch the hounds. Neil said he would do the same.

By now, the rabbit’s pattern was obvious after hearing it run for two hours. I picked my way carefully to an old pile of rotted cedar logs which had a good avenue of fire. Confident that this was the spot that was being used over and over, I settled down onto one of the logs. Sure enough the hunt was headed directly towards my ambush. As I looked intently for it under the spruce, it popped out at full speed across the opening. Old reflexes went into action and my double barked twice at the flashing white hare. The Beagles came up and they skirted right around me and continued on 50 feet and made a sharp turn and headed back to where it had come from. Neil called out to see if I had nailed it. Just as I was saying “no,” the hunt ended abruptly. The Beagles came into Neil telling us that I did get a pellet into the rabbit and the hunt was over.

Neil looked for the rabbit to no avail. We had the Beagles on leashes and quickly headed out. We still had some hounds on another hunt almost within hearing. We went to them by another road but a beaver flowage prevented me from following Dan’s Jeep. Willie was still hammering the snowshoe and Neil told me to return to Dan’s home as he and Dan would catch Willie. They did so and arrived back home at 6 PM. It was a nice ending to a great day.

We had another great meal of kale soup, last night’s pork scraps, bear meat, Portuguese linguica sausage and more veggies thrown in. This meal was topped off with some homegrown pumpkin pie with whipped cream.Thanks, Nancy. It was great!

It had been a long day in low 30s but being dressed for the elements proved to be no problem. On Wednesday, we headed for a slow departure for our homes. Goodbyes were said and promises were made to be back very soon and then Neil and me and Willie headed for home.

Dan and Nancy, a wonderful caring couple, are truly my extended family. Thanks to both of you for another great time that can’t be taken away from us.

By Matt Curry, 395A Back Belmont Road, Morrill, ME 04952-3230