Friday, February 3, 2012

Rabbit Hunting, 1945

Several of the old fellows sitting on the patio got onto the subject of hunting. Somehow rabbits hopped into the discussion. Most of the talk had to do with edibility of rabbit in general, and certain ones in particular. I drifted off into my own world, which is to say I found myself transported back more than sixty-five years, and in a locale 1000 miles away.

When I was a sixth-grader, my best buddy, also a sixth-grader found himself removed from town some forty-five miles and living on the high plains with his mother. Wes’s mom had taken a school in a Czech community farther away in culture and lifestyle than it was in distance from their home. Understand that this was a one-room school. However, the building itself had a second room which was outfitted as living quarters for the teacher, who in addition to teaching responsibilities for thirty-five students spread over eight grades, was also the janitor upon whom devolved the responsibility of keeping the premises heated with the wood-burning equipment. She decided she needed her son to live with her during this school year.

And so it was that I was invited to visit them during a break in the school activities which was occasioned by a community cultural festival. I could not believe sitting at table with people who were so bountifully blessed that they could serve more than one meat at a meal. Three, in fact: poultry, beef and lamb.
But back to the rabbit. The day before I was to head back to the city and home, Wes and I went rabbit hunting. Now understand that “rabbit” in this locale pretty much means “jackrabbit.” With the exception of one shot, the day was quite void of opportunity to shoot game. I was carrying a single shot .22 rifle. As we scuffed along through the yucca flat, a rabbit jumped up and headed straight away from me, except of course for the bobbing from side to side as it ran. I pulled down on it and fired when it was probably twenty yards ahead. The rabbit dropped instantly. Examination of the carcass revealed no blood, no wounds; but a careful study revealed that the bullet had struck the animal in the back of the neck, breaking it cleanly as it ricocheted off without puncturing the skin! What a shot! What a lucky, improbable, and never-to-be-repeated shot.

Yet there is more to the story, for Wes and I took our trophy home, cleaned it, cooked it, and ate it, because the parents hadn’t the heart to tell us eating jackrabbit just wasn’t done.


Shelly said...

What a great story, and I'll bet the jackrabbit tasted pretty good to you fellows. I enjoyed hearing about the teacherage your friend and his mom lived in. How things have changed!

Jim said...

So *why* was jackrabbit just not eaten? Sounds like one of those local-cultural taboos.

Vee said...

Why does it not surprise me that you and Wes, as sixth-graders, would be out hunting with 22's? (This is pretty tame when compared to making a bomb.)

Secondary Roads said...

I am told that the Indians had an expression which was, "starving on rabbit."

vanilla said...

Shelly, things have changed, indeed. Not all change is progress. We thought it a good meal.

Jim, stringy and gamey, for two things.

Vee, and what exactly is the problem with rabbit hunting with small-bore rifles? Gives the rabbit a fighting chance, unlike the shotgun approach. And you brought up that other thing again. ;-)

Chuck, it would take a lot of rabbit to make a square meal for more than two people.

Sharkbytes said...

That is great! Sometimes those amazing events of our youth that sound like they came from a novel really happen and that keeps us believing in the magic.

I haven't eaten jackrabbit, but am made up of protein from many cottontails.

Sharkbytes said...

PS... yes you can supposedly starve on rabbit because they don't have enough fat and if that's all you can find to eat they won't sustain a human... but I think it takes a LONG time to starve on rabbit.

vanilla said...

Shark, one suspects that life is made of many more magical moments than we identify and appreciate.

We raised domestic rabbit for food when I was a kid. Pretty good eating, too.