In Utah, the blackfooted jackrabbit was such a pest, no permit or permission was needed to hunt it. If you saw one, you are legally allowed to shoot it. 7 years told to 70. After I bought my meek .22 Marlin rifle, it was what I set out to hunt down.
Over a year, I only went out to hunt the rabbits three times. The grounds where I saw them first were about 45 minutes away. Spending discipline had not yet hit me or the Ex, so spending a quarter of a tank on my outings, while healthy for me, were decided few and far between. I was part of this decision.
My first trip, like all three of my trips, netted me zero kills, but not for lack of trying. A friend of mine, hearing my stories of failure, asked around his fellow gun friends. Apparently, the peak rabbit season was in 2008 and the populations begun to scatter and recover since then. Which would be the reason that in a prime area for rabbit hunting (holes, hills, brush), that I saw less than a dozen in all types of spring/summer weather.
But, it didn’t matter. When you’re all kitted up, ammo, food, water and other supplies in your pack, walking miles, zig zagging across a tiny valley within a larger valley, taking small steps between hard, loud brush and stone, you feel the killer instinct inside. My closest encounter involved a ballsy little fucker who apparently knew how much ammo I had. Walking back from a collection of cans and sticks (someone’s makeshift targets they left behind), he popped his head out 5 feet from me. I raised, I cocked and no shell came out. He twitched his nose, looked at me then took off. Out of ammo. The reason I had come across him was that I was walking back to my car for more bullets. But, in the moment, I forgot. No matter. If there had been a bullet, there’d would of been a kill. I’m proud of that thought.
Hunting is a game of waiting and skill. Unlike some hunters, who bring their home with them and only hunt when its comfortable, I like to carry everything, stay out in the weather and slowly make my way across the landscape. Granted, I’m still a very new person to it and living in the most urbanized part of Ontario won’t be getting me any nearby trophies, but to me, when out there alone, scanning every inch every minute looking for a tiny, moving giant eared rat, when you do see it, its a rush. A instinctual rush that hearkens back to two of the three most natural jobs for the human male: to kill and to feed.
If you haven’t hunted, try it. You don’t even have to have a firearm. Bring a stick. Bring a pack of food and heavy things to build up your legs and back. When you see an animal in the distance, try to get as near to it as you can. Consider the wind, your noises, your scent. Its a game we have played for thousands of years. A true male cultural tradition that will never, ever die.