A winter’s tale of catching a rabbit

Published 5:45 am Saturday, January 27, 2018

Now that winter is rearing its icy head, I am not one of those people who wax nostalgic about fireplaces and heating their homes with open fireplaces or wood/coal burning stoves or furnaces.

One cold, snow-covered Saturday in January 1987or 88, when we were living on Harmon’s Lick here in Garrard County, I glanced out our kitchen window and saw two young boys, about 10 or 11 years old studiously meandering across the field that separated my house from my next door neighbor’s some 500 feet on up the road. They were close enough that I could tell they were lugging the live raccoon trap my neighbor had borrowed to catch the one that had been overturning her garbage can. One boy had the front end of the trap and the other had the rear.

They would stop and point in different directions then go back to watching the ground as they slowly made their way into the big pasture behind our place. I quickly figured out that they were tracking something so I pulled on my boots and walked out to see exactly what they were up to.

“Gonna catch us a rabbit soon as we find his hole,” one of the boys replied after I asked.

“Are you trying to find where he came from or where he’s going,” I inquired.

“Where he went to,” came the reply.

“Well he went that-away.” I pointed to the tracks and in the opposite direction of the way they were headed. It most have taken me the better part of half an hour to explain that a rabbit’s hind feet land in front of its forefeet when said rabbit is traveling. I’m pretty sure I would have been a finalist on America’s Funniest Home Videos had someone been filming me falling backwards as I tried to demonstrate how a rabbit gets around.

I finally convinced the boys that they would have far better luck catching a rabbit out their “Aunt Lola’s” garden if they baited the trap and set it there. I knew that my neighbor, Lola Prewitt, had spinach wintering over and that trapping rabbits to keep them out of it was legal as long as they took the rabbit a few miles away and released it. I’m not sure how the boys were related to Lola but they may have been grand-nephews. In any event they referred to her as, “Aunt Lola” and I’m reasonably sure all her nieces and nephews had long been adults at the time.

Anyway, the boys and I came back to my house where we found some fresh lettuce and an apple before we walked back to Ms. Prewitt’s garden and I showed them how to bait and set the trap. If, in fact, they’d actually found a rabbit hole, they were totally clueless as to how to go about preparing the “live box” to actually catch a critter. I also told them that if they caught a coon they should have Aunt Lola call me because they were apt to get bitten and that they did not want to go through a series of painful rabies shots if that happened.

I had just gotten up on Sunday morning when I heard loud, stamping feet and the excited chattering that only preteen boys can make, coming from the front porch. There they stood, trap box suspended between them, and inside it was a full grown, very frightened cottontail.

“Well, we got him, one exclaimed!

“Now what are YOU gonna do with him,” the other asked me? You already said we’re not allowed to eat him!”

I made them leave the rabbit on the porch while I got dressed and called Lola to tell her I was going to help the boys relocate her rabbit. Lola teased me by suggesting I take to John Clark’s place because he really needed more rabbits in his garden.

Instead, we took it to Junior Helton’s farm where I figured one more rabbit was not going to make any difference.

So two little boys went back to Michigan or Ohio, I forget which, that afternoon with a tall tale to tell their classmates. If any of Lola’s relatives are reading this column and know who the boys, now in their 40s, might have been, I’d be very interested to see if they remember rabbit trapping as well as I do.

Reach longtime Enterprise columnist Ike Adams at ikeadams@aol.com or on Facebook or 249 Charlie Brown Road, Paint Lick, KY 40461.