Rabbits. Back when I was a kid, I don’t remember how old, there used to be an annual rabbit hunt on our farm. I only know I was too young to carry a shotgun and go shoot with the men.
That was back when there wasn’t much deer season. Two, maybe three days of bucks only and two or three bucks killed by the Conservation Deer Club was a big successful season. Doc’s rabbit hunt was a good fill-in for fall shooting sports.
Our river bottom low land had been made unusable for crops by construction of State Route 259 bridge over Cacapon River. Pasture for cattle wasn’t a good option because the river began washing out fences as fast as they could be built. With little productive use for such land, it was allowed to grow up in brush. Clumps of brush interspersed with piles of flood debris made super rabbit habitat.
A half dozen men strung out between river and high bank around our farmstead. No whooping and hollering like on a deer drive. Quiet, except for the booming twelve gauges. They’d tramp trash piles and shake cedars out to open cleared land where our sheep pastured, then come up to the house to empty their guns, laugh and brag. There was always at least one rabbit that ran across in front of two or three hunters, all of whom missed their shot. Big laugh and they’d get him next year.
I remember them standing emptying their hunting coats and game bags into our wheel barrow. Never saw so many rabbits. They’d split them up even so everybody went home with enough to “get a mess” or “stink up the pan”.