Splitting Hares

Posted: Monday, April 30, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Some exciting moments at our house this past weekend…over rabbits!.
First, on Friday, my wife noticed that those (expletive-deleted) backyard bunnies have been feasting away at the bark of our lilac bush. She’s okay with rabbits taking up winter quarters under our deck but not if it means they’re going to kill off our favorite springtime plant.
We’ve known from tracks in the snow that rabbits were under there but forgot that they breed like…well…rabbits. Then Sunday as we were sitting outside enjoying the record breaking warm weather, our five year old granddaughter and the neighbor girl started screaming with delight. They’d spotted a baby bunny emerging from the darkness and protection of below deck into the bright sunshine.
“It looks thirsty grandma,” said Zoey…and so my wife who earlier had been ready to kill this furry little creature’s mother for bark abuse, agreed and went to find the water dish which, incidentally, she had bought for the stray cats that pop in from time to time.
But before she could get water the little fella had hopped into the garage and under the car.
Zoey and her new friend, even more excited now, tried coaxing the bunny out but to no avail. Finally, everyone stepped away and, sure enough, the little fur-ball scurried out the door and back to the safety of it’s own family living a couple feet below us.
I was rooting for the rabbit to be okay. Here’s why.
Recently, Linda and I were driving along the back roads to Alcester when I commented at not having seen a jackrabbit in years. There used to be millions of them.
Were they hunted into near extinction or did they die of embarrassment at the thought of being turned into jackalopes and sold to tourists?
It’s just as well that I haven’t seen any for a long time because it only brings up a traumatic experience from my youth.
During pheasant season sometime in the sixties, I was frustrated at not having fired my gun all day. That’s when I spotted this jackrabbit standing at attention in a plowed field..nearly within range of my 12 gauge. My buddies dared me to take a shot.
I did.
The pellets only wounded the poor thing and its painful screams sounded like a baby crying. Upset at what I’d done, I decided to reload and go put the prairie hare out of its misery but it had limped off into a shelterbelt. We could still hear that sickening sound as we got back in the car and left.
I was sick about it then and guess I still haven’t gotten over it.
I recently read in South Dakota Magazine that jackrabbit numbers are gradually bouncing back in the state.  I hope so.
They certainly have nothing to fear from me.

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