Peter Patenaude, a registered Maine guide, has been a Filson advocate for over six years. His blog Boot & Canoe, focuses on traditional skills and Maine’s outdoor heritage. Peter shares some tips for a successful snowshoe hare hunt with you. Find them useful? Make sure to leave a comment below!
At the end of a fresh snow, there is nothing more fun than to chase snowshoe hare through a stand of thick evergreens. This is certainly a much easier and more productive activity with a set of trained dogs, but can also be done with a few willing people.
I never grow tired of snowshoeing out on top of a new white blanket and finding that first set of tracks to follow. Not only is this a great way to get some much needed winter exercise, but it is a very exciting chase that will certainly bring camaraderie to a hunting party. After the hunt, it is short and easy work to clean the snowshoe hare and get it into a pot. I have always found it hard not to stew the meat as it becomes tender and sweet tasting after a long day of slow cooking. Here are some tips that can be useful for a first time snowshoe hunter:
1. Wear a full brimmed hat. You will be thankful when snow is not falling down the back of your neck while you are busting through the covered branches.
2. Wear eye protection. As I have mentioned before, eye injuries are very common in the woods and spruce/fir trees are full of small dead branches.
3. Be the beagle. Have one hunter act as the dog and push through the brush while the other waits and looks for the hare’s movement.
4. Carry a plastic bag. It would not be pleasant if the hare released its bladder into the game pouch of your jacket on the walk out.
5. Watch the circle around you. The hare will not leave familiar grounds and will work around a large circle of its territory.
6. Blow a whistle. If the hare is running, blow a whistle and it may stop to see what the noise was. I find the sound of my shotgun will stop him just the same.
7. No mess. When cleaning the hare, I do not cut open its stomach. After skinning, I remove its legs and the meat running down its back.
8. Cook with fat. It is a very lean meat, so stewing a hare with bacon or duck makes for a tasty meal.