The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 40 - 6/1/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
After being married a while and a family starting to happen we had to scratch and dig to make a living. One of our not so prosperous ventures was buying and selling jackrabbits. The country was lousy with jackrabbits and a mink farm, McConnel Bros., from Laramie had a regular route through this part of the state to buy rabbits for mink feed. They also sold the hides and wanted them in one piece, shot with only a .22 rifle and not spoiled.
Denny Hittle and I both worked in the daytime but spent a lot of nights hunting rabbits. His uncle, Otto Jensen, down below Boulder, was really plagued with them and we had permission to thin them out. We used a spotlight and took turns shooting. We could pull out by a haystack and usually get a couple of dozen before they worked out of .22 range. When they got out too far we would use a 22-250 but it was too much gun, and blew them up pretty good. I had a Labrador dog that was a wonderful retriever and worked like a charm. After we were done shooting he would bring them all in, one at a time. McConnel Bros. paid 25 cents each for them and wanted someone to buy for them and offered 35 cents each if we could come up with a large amount. We had an old log barn where the shop now sets and a thousand would fill it up pretty good and they would stay frozen in it in the shade and cold weather. The first load went pretty good except they would not buy the ones we blew up with the 22-250. I had a 1952 Chevrolet Coupe and the trunk would hold one hundred rabbits and still be able to shut the lid. We filled it almost every trip and 102 was our record. We bought 22 shells by the carton and wore out a few sets of tire chains and finally burnt out the clutch and it really didn't pay off too good.
Another fellow in town figured we were making a killing on the rabbits and started in competition with us buying rabbits. He was a lot newer at the games than we were and we had saved up a big pile of the blown up ones. He didn't know Denny Hittle and didn't know they wouldn't buy the blown up ones so Denny sold the whole pile to him. After the rabbit truck made its next circle in our area, all of a sudden our competitor would not buy any more rabbits period. Again we had the market all to ourselves. It didn't matter much though because after adding up all our expenses we were ready to give it up. The last time we filled up the old barn about chin deep we got a good January thaw. It was a panic time for a while until the truck came after them, and we shut down the operation. We weren't supposed to buy any spoiled ones and Norm Fronk had sold us a batch that was pretty ripe. I refused a few of them and the next time Norm showed up with a trunkload, he pulled up and opened his trunk lid. There was one rabbit on top that wasn't dead and he jumped out of the trunk and headed up the street like a bullet. Norm's mouth flew open and he said, "Is that one fresh enough?"
Dale Wissler and I both worked for Nan Anderson at the chev garage and we also did a lot of rabbit hunting at night. We had made up a few hand held spotlights using an airplane landing light sealed beam. It really put out a light but was noted for sucking a battery dry and got hotter than heck. I made one for Pat Johnson also and he and Gene Pfisterer went hunting one night and after bagging a rabbit they went out to retrieve it. One of them laid the spotlight face down on the car seat and forgot to turn it off. When they got back to the vehicle the light had melted through the plastic seat cover and on down through a bunch of the padding. It was a pretty new station wagon and talk about stink it up.
Dale had a brother-in-law that was always playing tricks on us and we decided to turn the tables. I had a Winchester .22 rifle that held about 20 shells in the magazine and loaded it with blank shells, all except the first two. When we got to rabbit counting I took the first shot and bagged the rabbit then it was Dale's turn and he done the same. The next turn was Marvin's and the rabbit was pretty close, a cinch shot but nothing happened to the rabbit. He tried another shot and didn't get the rabbit. He asked me where to hold the crosshairs of the scope and I told him to keep holding higher. Every time he would shoot, the fire from the burnt powder would fly out of the end of the barrel but he couldn't see it. The rabbit would hop out a little ways farther and I kept telling Marvin he was shooting under him and to hold a little higher. He was on the outside of the pickup taking a rest over the hood and Dale and I were both on the inside of the cab and he couldn't hear us snickering. Finally he said, "Cripes, I'm holding 3 foot over him now." We couldn't control the laughing anymore and he finally wised up. The rabbit finally tired of the game and hopped off. We were in a 1953 chev pickup and had run the battery down doing all the spotlighting. It was light enough the 3 of us could push it up the little incline we were on backwards, then all 3 pushed together and I could jump in and jam it in second gear to try to get it started. We were a long ways from home and it was a pretty cold winter night and we were really relieved when it finally started. We didn't dare try any more spotlighting and headed for home, pretty cold now. All the way home Marvin kept saying "I'm gonna get even with you guys!"
Bucky's Stories are sponsored by Walker's Agri-Service in Pinedale
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