I was 19 and it was Thanksgiving. My friends all had commitments of one kind or another so I had decided to go hunting by myself. I decided that rather than taking the car, I would walk all the way and probably cover 5 or 6 miles. My friend, Jack, and I had a regular track that we liked to take and we knew the spots where we were most likely to encounter a cottontail or two.
It was an ugly day. There was already snow on the ground and it was supposed to snow all day. I put on warm clothes, including boots, a sock cap and a parka and grabbed my .22 and a box of shells and took off. By the time I was a half mile south of town the temperature had changed and what had been a light snow became a freezing rain. The rain would hit the barrel of my rifle and then freeze and soon the whole barrel was covered with ice. I was warm enough in my parka but I hadn’t shaved yet that morning and I started getting ice crystals in my whiskers. I was wearing a scarf so I arranged it better to cover my cheeks and tightened the drawstring on my parka hood.
When I got to the Walnut River there was some wind and it was causing the snowflakes to really swirl around me. I was nice and warm so I didn’t much care but just kept moving. I knew that the odds of me jumping a rabbit weren’t worth betting on. The rabbits would be hunkered down in those little nesting places in the tall grass and unless I was about to step on one it wouldn’t run.
I kept moving and checked out the areas where we usually found a cottontail or two. I covered a couple more miles and didn’t see anything so I headed for home. It was still a yucky-looking day with snow falling in a pretty steady manner. I hadn’t seen a rabbit all day but that was okay because I didn’t really want to shoot anything. I just wanted to get out of the house and burn off some energy. Now it was time to go home and clean up and get ready for dinner.
December 10, 2014