Night of the Hare

My husband and I wanted to find a more secluded spot to camp at than our previous spot where we had to pretend we were trees in the hope that no category 1 camper would see us and want to be our camping buddies. If you don’t know what a category 1 camper is, you can go read my prior post where it is explained. We are category 2 campers. As such, seclusion suits us.

The prior weekend we’d scouted out a promising spot. We even found a digital thermometer behind a tree in that site. Not the kind for measuring body temp, but the weather. It still worked. We love weird finds like that. Who would put a thermometer behind a tree and leave it there?

When we went camping the next weekend we almost missed the turn down the narrow dirt road that leads to the secluded spot. No one was camping there, so it was ours, all ours!

Sometimes I wonder why I like to go camping so much. A lot of women I know don’t really care for it. I guess I like the ambiance. It’s mysterious sitting there surrounded by trees and bushes. You hear strange sounds. You wonder what is lurking in all that foliage.

We camp in grizzly bear country. There was a point in my life when I refused to camp in places where bears frequented. I overcame that fear, thankfully.

When you’re camping or hiking in bear country, you tend to only think about running into a bear on the path. Sometimes you forget there are other predators that live there too. Wolves and mountain lions, for instance. Oh, and don’t forget moose. I’ve heard that more people die from moose attacks than from bear attacks. I believe it. The closest we’ve come to a wild animal attack was when we encountered an angry bull moose who’d been followed a female and her calf, until we unintentionally interrupted his pursuit. He was seriously considering charging us, but his desire to keep following the female kept him from it.

While I enjoy camping in seclusion, my senses are always heightened, wondering what wildlife we might encounter on one of our adventures.

On our second night in our secluded spot, I was sitting outside of our van, while my husband was inside reading on the bunk. He spotted our visitor before I did. Off to our left was a rabbit, which soon bounded off into the trees.

“Someone is staring at you,” my husband said, about fifteen minutes later. “Do you see it?”

I did see it. Barely. The rabbit was directly in front of me just down the hill. Was it the same one? He was very, very still. So still that I wasn’t sure if it was still there at times. Every once in a while his ears would move.

It seemed like I stared at it for about ten minutes with it hardly moving at all. Suddenly, his ears twitched forward. Then he was leaping off into the bushes again. Something had spooked him. That, in turn, spooked me. It was close to sunset so I decided to move inside our van.

I settled on the bunk beside my husband. We left the doors of the van open however.

About ten minutes later, my husband shifted on the bunk and made a surprised sound. The rabbit was back! He was sitting just outside our van. He could have hopped right in.

I got a better look at him then, and he was BIG! I’d never seen a rabbit that large. Our children had pet rabbits when they were young. This guy looked nothing like those cute little rabbits. This guy was large, brown, and had these shiny, black eyes. He was very rodent-like. We’ve owned pet rats before, and I’d have to say he reminded me more of our pet rats than our pet rabbits.

What was more incredible were his hind legs and feet. They were HUGE! Like, baby kangaroo size, or something. At that moment the metaphorical light popped on in my brain. At the library where I work, I read lots of wildlife books to the kids at story time. What I was looking at was none other than a snowshoe hare, not a rabbit.

Of course my camera was not anywhere close at hand, but my husband did have his and he snapped a picture of the hare for me.

The three of us sat there staring at each other for the longest time. The hare didn’t seem afraid of us. Why should he? He could probably take us both out with a few well placed kicks with those enormous hind legs of his. I don’t know if he was merely curious about us, or whether he smelled something tasty in our van. After maybe about five minutes he got tired of us and leaped off into the night.snowshoe hare

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