Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Oct. 29, 2001

A Christmas Eve to forget

By Burt Kreitlow
Former Howard Lake resident

We couldn't wait for evening. Bud and I had spotted several jack rabbits during the day. The first one, a monster, looked like a 20-pounder and was watching Allie Anderson spreading manure.

While on farm machinery, one could approach within 20 feet of jacks. From our vantage point in the barnyard, these two great hunters saw a large, tall jack standing about three feet tall. The light feathery snow would make for great tracking in case we frightened him. We were ready.

Yes, we hunted at 10 and 12 years of age, and even if jack rabbits were already rare, no one on farms in the 1920s had ever heard of an endangered species.

"It's worth it even if we get only one", said Bud, as we planned the nights excursion.

"Full moon," I responded. "I bet we see three or four."

"I'll get two myself even if you are too noisy".

My response, "Not if I see them first''.

The first hint of trouble came when we suggested to Pa that we do the milking early to get in more hunting time.

He didn't say no, but mentioned that it was Christmas Eve. We didn't see that as a barrier. Once we had seen the rabbit, we had not even remembered it was Christmas eve day.

Now we began to worry. Ma was sometimes a spoiler of wonderful plans we cooked up. She could think of reasons why something shouldn't be done. We needed her permission for all hunting and fishing excursions.

At suppertime Bud commented casually that along with goose we were going to have jack rabbit for Christmas dinner.

"What?" Ma said. "Where are you going to get a jack rabbit?"

I smiled at Ma and said, "We saw the rabbit. The tracking will be easy in this new snow, and the sky is clearing, and it's a full moon!"

"Don't you know what night this is? Christmas Eve! No boys of mine are going out shooting rabbits on Christmas Eve! What will the neighbors think?"

"Please Auntie", said Bud, "it's the best night we'll have all winter.

We won't go near anyone's house. Jacks are always in the open field."

"No, you cannot go, and that's final. Besides, if you do get a shot those little Anderson girls will hear it and worry about Santa. No! No! No!"

Pa, whose word was final, seldom took sides until a decision was in view. Now he entered the fray. "You can go next Saturday morning instead. Take off right after milking and I'll feed the young stock and start cleaning the barns. No going tonight."

Bud's and my prediction about next Saturday morning came to pass, temperature below zero and the wind blowing new snow in blizzard fashion. Even we wouldn't hunt under those conditions.

Did we ever complete this Christmas eve jack rabbit hunt with new snow for tracking? No, but we dreamed about it. That's what I'm doing right now.

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