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Author Topic: Subzero Traditional Bunny Hunting - Bill “Mac” McCawley  (Read 654 times)

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Subzero Traditional Bunny Hunting - Bill “Mac” McCawley
« on: March 25, 2004, 08:06:00 AM »
Subzero Traditional Bunny Hunting
 
By Bill “Mac” McCawley aka Walkingstick

How do traditional bow hunters that are separated by state lines and several hundred miles of real estate get together to hunt cotton tailed rabbits in deep snow and arctic temperatures? It happens more easily than one could ever imagine. Here’s how it happened to this group

 

 It all started on December twenty second with a posting on the powwow forum of TradGang.com, a cyber hangout for traditional archers and self-bow builders. A fellow named Shawn Leonard posted about a good day he had hunting in his area of New York. This post was followed by several other posts, but more especially from Bryan Elderkin who posts as Recurver and lives in Byron, New York, a few hours away from Shawn’s home area near Albany. These two made plans to hunt together in their area. Soon posts appeared offering other sites for a get together hunt. By the twenty sixth of December the site of this hunt was going to be in the Rochester area of New York. The host for the hunt would be Don Haingray who posts as Meathook. Already five people had committed to coming and I would be one of the very last to hook up. Shawn and Bryan were coming from the Albany area, a good 4-hour drive. Curt Cabrera who posted a Guru and was healing from a hunting accident was toying with the idea. Some coaxing by everyone got him to commit and Shawn would pick up Curt Cabrera at Curt’s sister’s home in Syracuse. Curt would stay there after driving in from the West Point area. Nannook, Francis DeClerck was coming from the area below Rochester. Tom McAndrew and Bob Brown were coming from the immediate area and I would be traveling from Pennsylvania for a three-hour ride. The weather changed and became bitter cold and with it came lake effect snows. Don showed us some pictures of the snow and the temps fell below zero but we all decided to go for it on Thursday night.
   
 On January tenth at 5:30 AM I set about getting chores finished and was on the road by six. It was 13 degrees below zero when I left and the temperature gauge on the console in my truck showed variances in hills and valleys all the way north as high as four degrees below zero. When I arrived at Don’s place in Hamlin at nine AM it was minus eleven degrees and for the last ten miles the snow scenery was spectacular. Trees draped with mounds of fluffy white snow glistened in the sunlight. Soon the others arrived. Some coffee and doughnuts were in order and after introductions we went about warming up with a little target shooting at a makeshift range that Don had constructed. We looked at other bowyer’s works of art and then we set about hunting close to Don’s home. The cover was excellent but the deep snow hindered the dogs. Drivers or pushers were getting laden with snow with each step as they brushed against the trees moving toward others on watch. We finished the morning with no sightings and the mention of food soon had everyone scurrying to Don’s kitchen. No one was complaining of the cold. The warmth that emanates from these folks at gatherings like this is something special. One can only experience this by getting together with folks like these. I have no idea what political affiliation anyone had, what religion they practiced or where they stood on the economic platform of life but the common bond they all shared was a love for the primitive stick and string and that was the necessary ingredient. I found it awesome that Don’s wonderful wife Julie and their family could cope with our invasion of their space. They were perfect hosts. Dinner consisted of a series of venison chili, Italian and Polish sausage made with venison, Italian bread, pop and peppers and onions brought by Shawn, Tom, the others and myself. Archery talk abounded and we watched videos of Curt’s hog, deer and turkey hunts as well as Don’s Canadian bear hunt. Plans were made to move farther south to get out of the deep snow. We traveled about 15 miles to a woodlot near Tom’s place.
   
We arrived at our new destination and soon Sunny had a hot track going. I hadn’t heard beagle music in over thirty years but it brought back a lot of memories. The brush was very thick and we spread out best we could. Curt, who had been shot by a hunter during the New York gun season, was just starting to heal well and had a slight limp but it was soon forgotten as he was jogging to intercept rabbits as they crossed openings in the brush.  Several shots were taken and everyone sighted rabbits but as the chapter closed on this hunt no meat was harvested. We took a few group photos and Nanook bid us all farewell, as he had to leave. We then returned to Don’s for a quick bite to eat. We talked about another get together somewhere else in the state for rabbits and even a possible deer hunt get together at a local state park were a cabin could be rented for the stay. Everyone agreed we had to do something together again and I am sure that down the road there is another hunt in the making for this group.
   
 As I drove home I thought of how wonderful it is that we can meet online and get together. The cold and snow was never an issue, the amount of rabbits we saw and shot at could probably been found closer to home but the comradere we shared and ability to now post to a name with a face made this all worthwhile. There will be other opportunities in other places for me but this memorable hunt and the friendships that developed and were strengthened by this hunt will remain a big part of my archery memories forever.

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