Snowshoes are tri-directional vehicles. They go forward fairly well and acceptably to the right or left if steered with careful execution. But backing up is not something built into the design.
I demonstrated this failing when a rabbit came sneaking in behind me. He decided to find a healthier habitat just as I decided to make him my dinner. My first shot missed and he drove into a deep trail in the snow, so that only his ears were visible. I instinctively tried to back up for better alignment, but I did what you always do when attempting to back up fast on snowshoes: I fell. As I extended backward I had a full view of the departing rabbit. Calculating a double lead for the running hare and the falling hunter I pulled the back trigger, and scored a hit!
I spent the next 10 minutes wallowing like a beached whale in the 4-foot-deep snow. The problem is that snow is like very cold quicksand. The best approach is to find a small tree and pull yourself up. But unless said tree is close, it’s a tough task. The good news is that if you don’t succeed, the snow will melt by June.
Hitting a hare is as tough as shotgunning gets, but hunting rabbits in front of a pack of beagles is the most mid-winter fun allowed by law- provided you’re willing to accept humiliation as part of the deal.
For more information on hunting in Vermont, call or e-mail Pete Richardson (802-744-6174; kimnpete @together.net)