The $25 Hare
- by Emery Barg
       After 12 hours in the car with two little kids and a short sleep, it was time for
Ryan to get up and get his license so my brother (Edgar) could take him out for his
first ever hare hunt. It was Friday morning, the 18th of February, the temperature
was –4 and it wasn’t supposed to get out of the teens. It wasn’t looking to be a
great day of hunting. I would have to sit out at least the morning, as I didn’t have a
babysitter lined up for Friday. So, after a quick stop at the local hardware store to
donate $50 to the Wisconsin DNR, my brother and Ryan were off to the frozen tundra
of northern Wisconsin for some hare hunting.

       There was only a ground covering of crusty old snow that you could walk on
without breaking through. So for us humans, it would be easy walking and the dogs
would have a tough time with scenting. I don’t know much about the morning’s hunt,
because I wasn’t there but the running wasn’t too good. My brother’s kids got out of
school early (1:00) that afternoon, and his daughter Megan watched my kids for me in
the afternoon. By the time my brother got me out there, his dogs and some of Ryan’s
dogs were in two different locations along the same side of the road. (I should note
here that I wasn’t carrying a gun and my dogs weren’t running yet.) The running was
pretty tough, two of Ryan’s dogs had a hare up and going, but it didn’t sound very
pretty. We found Ryan walking through the woods following after his dogs. We
caught up to him and were listening, it sounded like they were in the process of
circling back toward us. There was a check and then they opened up and off they
went again, straight away from us and out of hearing. We determined that they must
have jumped one of those big split hoofed brown rabbits with the big white tail. They
left the country.

       Well, we caught the rest of the dogs and commenced to track down the two
culprits. We got out the portable radio’s to help us communicate, my brother went
down the road to the west to the next road that went north and south, that was
more than a mile away.  Ryan and I went into the woods calling for the dogs. It wasn’
t too long when Edgar came over the radio and said that he could hear the dogs
across the road to the west of where he was. Ryan and I headed out of the woods
and back to my car. We caught up to my brother who was parked on the side of the
road and we listened. They were still within hearing. They probably were off the deer
and running rabbits again as the deer should have been in the next county by now.
Edgar was about out of gas in his truck, so he went off to town to fill up. Ryan and I
went down some east/west gravel roads to try to locate them, but we couldn’t hear
them. We could almost make a box around the area with the roads, but they didn’t
connect through so there was a lot of driving and calling. One of the locals seemed
pretty interested in what we were doing. We saw the same car driving around the
same area we were in about 6 or 7 times. I dropped Ryan off and he walked into the
edge of the woods along a green swamp and went back to try and do a locate with
the shock collars. My brother had made it back by this time and we had 3 of the 4
roads covered. I heard the dogs and radioed to Ryan, he headed out of the woods
and my brother picked him up. They headed back across the gas line and toward the
area where some people were doing some logging. They quickly caught one of his
dogs. The other wasn’t within earshot. So after a while longer of calling, I decided to
head out to the blacktop road where Ryan had walked into the woods to see if I could
hear anything there.

      The reason I am going into this in great detail is because of what happens next.
You needed some background to appreciate this. Out pops the other dog right onto
the road. I take off running after it and calling, she looks like she is coming. I look
back, as I am running right down the middle of the road and here comes an SUV down
the road towards me. I start waving for it to slow down (as I am running down the
middle of the road) so the dog won’t get hit. It turns out that just the time I catch up
to the dog, the vehicle is right with me. I turn around and it is a Sheriff’s patrolman. I
didn’t think much of it and we started chatting. He said that the reason that he was
there was that they had a call of a suspicious vehicle (a green Subaru with a trailer
and IL plates) in an area where there had been some break-ins and some thefts
recently. At least they got the car and trailer part right, but it should have been MO
plates. Anyway, I gave him my license and he called my name in… I explained that I
grew up here and was up with my brother and a friend hunting hare and a couple of
the dogs took after a deer. We had just caught the last one when he came up. Being
the ex-military policeman that I am, I had to chuckle at the scenario. A suspicious
vehicle, cop drives up and sees it, but sees potential suspect running away as fast as
he can. Cop thinks, “Oh great, now I have to chase this idiot down running through
the woods with snow on the ground”.  Anyway, that is how the first day ended. $50
for a license, no hare for the oven.

      Day 2 started out with me going to the hardware store and getting my license
(don’t want to play with fire after the previous day’s experience). The temp wasn’t
much better –2 this morning and it didn’t get much above 20, same crusty old stale
snow. The running was lousy again. By the afternoon, we hadn’t done much of
anything. Finally, we caught up all the dogs and put just Shiloh (Edgar’s old female)
out and Hannah out for the first time. I didn’t want to hunt her as I had sold her to a
friend of my brother and I didn’t want to take any chances of injury or losing her
before he got her, but I just couldn’t take it any longer. Shiloh and Hannah got one up
and we actually got to see some hare this time. My brother missed a couple of shots
(hunting with a .22) and I don’t remember if Ryan got a shot or not, but we missed
that one. Then they got on a cottontail. Even with the two big nosed dogs, they didn’t
run spectacular. We decided to call it quits early and went home. Day 2, a total of
$100 spent on licenses and no hare to put in the oven. There was a promise of
warmer weather with a chance of 2 inches of snow for Sunday morning.

      The forecast was true to its word, we had mid 20’s and nice fresh snow on the
ground. Ryan took my brother’s truck out and his dogs and went hunting. My brother
and I went to church and joined Ryan immediately after. Thanks to Megan watching
my kids again for me. Our original plan was to see how the running was on Sun and
then leave by noon if it wasn’t good. We got out there with the rest of the clan of
dogs and Ryan’s dogs were doing pretty well. We put out my pup Blue and Shiloh and
a Duke, a pup of my brother’s. Pretty soon we had some really sweet music, all of
them joined in. My brother hit one in the front leg and Ryan had a still shot at it and
missed (nice shooting Ryan! LOL) but we all have misses like that. The dogs poured it
on. They ran that hare down to the area where we had the deer chase on Fri. We all
stood around to see if they were going to bring it back or not. It didn’t look like it was
going to come back so we fanned out and walked down towards the dogs. We were
just about to the area when I caught movement coming my way. I pulled up and shot
the wounded hare. Ryan said he didn’t see it until I pulled up.

If you have never hunted hare before and you are used to seeing only cottontail, it is
a different experience seeing something white running on snow. I had the advantage
of seeing the red on my side of the rabbit. Ryan didn’t have that luxury. Ryan had
never seen a hare up close and was amazed at the size of the hind feet. We joked
that this was the $100 hare, but the day wasn’t over. We moved the dogs to the
other side of the road where we had the road and a RR tracks to box in this area. It
wasn’t too long before Shiloh opened and the rest packed up and off they went. Oh
what a difference a day can make, they just pounded this hare. It was non-stop for
the first circle, but nobody could get into position. We got our battle plan organized,
Ryan placed next to the edge of the tag-alder and a grown up brushy area, I wasn’t
too far from him, in a little opening of some saplings and the tag-alder thicket and my
brother was further to the north of us in his usual spot. Around they came again, I
figured that Ryan would get a shot because the dogs went by me just out of my site
and they were headed right toward him. The next thing I see it the hare right
between Ryan and me. After making sure that it was safe to shoot, I let him have it.
Hare number 2 was in the bag, $50 each.
We caught the dogs again and went back out to the road again. After some
discussion, we decided to just put them back in the same side of the road again,
just a bit further to the north. It wasn’t long before we had another race going. As
we were deciding where to position ourselves again, Edgar noticed another fresh
set of tracks going across the road and into the woods. He mentioned that we could
put the dogs on that when we got finished with this one. Edgar placed Ryan in his
spot, I went down to where I was before and Edgar went somewhere in-between.
By this time the dogs were starting the second circle. Edgar rings out with a shot or
two at the hare as it passes by his position. He said that he had hit it. The dogs
went by me out of site range and were headed back to complete the second circle.
So, I moved forward to get into the open brush area to hopefully get a chance to
see it the next time around. Well, there wouldn’t be another trip for this rabbit.
Ryan shoots and scores his first ever hare. That brings the price per hare down to
$33.33 so far. We caught the dogs and put them on the track in the road. Shiloh
opened up on it a little and moved the track into the woods; that rabbit must have
been sitting just out of sight waiting for all the commotion to stop before he headed
back to his home. All the dogs opened and poured it on. That hare didn’t stand a
chance. We put Ryan on the track, thinking that the hare would just come back the
way he went in.

This race didn’t last long at all; my brother and I didn’t even make it off the road
when they started back towards us. Ryan had moved off the road to be able to
shoot and he didn’t have to wait at all. He pulled up and shot. I was watching and
never saw the hare, but he bagged his second of the day and the 4th overall. $25
per hare, the price was getting better. We caught the dogs and moved back to
where we started the day. The dogs were turned loose, and Shiloh was the first to
open and the race was on again. We sat and listened to see where to station
ourselves. After we had a direction, we set out. I came across an old trail cut into
the swamp and was too far away to get a shot as the hare came across it about 40
yards down. Shiloh was the first to come across the track after the hare. They had
just about made another circle when there was a breakdown. I moved closer to
where the rabbit crossed. After the dogs came by me and eventually got back to the
point of loss, the race was on again.

It was about this time that Edgar’s friend Joe came by and dropped in two of his
dogs. I started hearing different voices chasing hare. I don’t know if we had too
many dogs for the area or what happened, but we really never had any more good
races for the rest of the day. It seemed that there were dogs running hare in 3
different spots and none of them doing a great job. I did hear a shot from the .22
on two different occasions and my brother came out of the woods with two hare for
himself. That made 6 for the day, but he already had his license, so we won’t count
those towards our total rabbit per dollar figure.

At this point, we were all pretty much wet by this time of the day. Between the
snow that was falling and all the tramping around in the 4-5 inches that came down
during the day, we were about done. We caught all the dogs and Joe invited Ryan
and me out to his house to take a look at his 60+ acre fenced in running area that
is full of hare. I had been out there once before with my brother late last summer
when it was pretty wet yet. Ryan thought it to be pretty cool. We each ended up
leaving there with an extra 6-month-old beagle. We came up with 6 dogs, sold one
and brought two beagles and one Brittany pup back. Oh, that was the other reason
for going up to Wis for the weekend in the first place; Ryan bought a Brittany pup
from my brother.

      $150 gas for round trip, $100 for two 5-day licenses, food, lodging, and
babysitting by my family, $550 for 3 pups, Ryan shooting his first snowshoe…
Priceless.
Ryan Brewer with his first
snowshoe hare.