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August 19, 2011 / 74

Shootout at the OK Fall Garden

IN which Ike Clanton Rabbit is unarmed, but it’s okay because Wyatt Earp Gardener can’t hit the broad side of the barn with a big shovel.

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I was pretty sure that we’d captured Ike Rabbit in the wheat part of the Big Garden since it was the only area in the enclosure that there was plenty of cover… ie where he could hide from us in the day time, and come out at night to steal and destroy.

Recap – The Rabbit ate almost all of my spring/summer garden. Various attempts were made to GET him, but we saw no evidence of success. A live trap was set, and wasn’t bothered. Snares were set on frequently used trails to no avail. Two dogs were enclosed in the garden area and left there for two days with no food. The dogs weren’t interested in food when we let them out, so we hopefully assumed that they’d eaten The Rabbit – but had no evidence.

So a bit over a week ago, I planted a small square test garden in the fall garden enclosure. Despite watering-in the 5 or 6 kinds of seeds, and favorable weather, I kept looking for emerging plants – and seeing nothing. This told me that either our seed was bad, or The Rabbit was snarfing the tender buds in the early morning  before I could even see that they’d emerged.

So now I’m planting a fall garden – IN the “rabbit’s enclosure.” I HAD to know if he was there or not. I didn’t have time to properly harvest the summer wheat, but it provided impenetrable cover for the rabbit if he was there.

The summer wheat had to go.

So today, I got my big lawn mower back from the shop and drove it up there. I stopped at the house on the way and strapped on my pistol grabbed a box of shells,. Then with the mower blades on high, I began mowing the wheat and weeds.

My first pass was around the perimeter, about a foot and a half from the perimeter fence. As I watched the clearance of my blade housing and the fence, I noticed a tunnel in the vegetation next to the fence. Well, we KNEW he had been in there… but was he STILL? I made two passes in the same track, knocking down the tall weeds and wheat stems.

On my third pass I found out the answer to the question. I saw a furry streak dash from the un-mowed wheat to the fence line. I couldn’t tell what it was – it was moving too fast, but there was some kind of creature in my garden. As I rounded the corner at the back of the plot, I saw the rabbit streaking along the tunnel next to the fence away from me.

I made a couple of more passes with no sign of him, then I cut through the middle of the 2000 sq ft area and flushed the rabbit out into the open area where the new garden is being planted. He wasn’t out in the open long. I had time to draw my pistol, but no time to aim and shoot before he was back in the wheat again.

I holstered the weapon and focused on eliminating the cover the rabbit had to hide in. It was getting pretty thin when he finally broke cover and streaked for the opposite side of the garden. I parked the mower and drew my gun while he was trying to escape through the fence, leaping at it and bouncing off the anti-rabbit chicken wire repeatedly.

I took a couple of shots at the little patch of clump grass I saw him go behind, and he decided that he was no longer wanted there and dashed to the opposite corner of the garden area. Then he sat down right in the open. I think rabbits are taught that if a human is shooting at you, your best chance of survival is to just sit still and they’ll hit everything but you. I proceeded to prove the mama rabbit’s wisdom. The range was about 60 feet, and I couldn’t tell where my shots were going until I saw one of his ears twitch and he went into frantic movement mode. (I’d been shooting over his head.)

Once again he was leaping and bouncing off the fence while I shot at him, and then he leaped a bit higher than he’d been leaping before, and sailed right through one of the openings in the cattle panel above the chicken wire – and was at last free and my fall garden area was at last certifiably rabbit free. I don’t know if it will STAY that way, but now we know we have to reinforce the fence by adding more (higher) chicken wire to it.

So Ike Clanton Rabbit got away – perhaps to later return to bedevil again. And Wyatt Earp Gardener was left standing wondering why he’d missed all those times – especially when shooting at a stationary target. Maybe it was because he’d decided to leave his glasses on the dresser instead of wearing them to mow grass. Or maybe he  didn’t really WANT to shoot the rabbit, preferring that it find some way to escape, which it finally did (given sufficient motivation). Wyatt was pretty good at shooting still targets so why had he missed all those times? In any case, Wyatt resolved to get the little .410 Jr shotgun fixed and if Ike rabbit ever came back, the ending of the story wouldn’t be so pretty for him.

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