Why Salt a Rabbit’s Tail?

Rabbit, the meat which used to be cheap and disregarded (aside from 4-H’ers, hungry country people who needed to stretch their food budget, and recent immigrants)  is now claiming a new face and a new-found fame on the tables of the dining elite. Rabbit recipes are popping up everywhere, and the price tag of the meat is climbing up right alongside them.

Though considered a ‘game’ meat, even hunters generally prefer to aim their guns at larger things, or more elegant things, it seems. Deer and ducks are drooled over more than the humble rabbit as prey to gloat over out in the ‘wild’ where hunting licenses have to be paid for before the trigger is pulled with hopefully accurate aim.

The postcard above notes that salting a rabbit’s tail is helpful to the would-be hunter. One has to wonder why. Is it for pre-seasoning? Does the rabbit become confused and want to lick its tail, therefore twirling around in stable circles so that the hunter can quickly clip off that shot and be done with it? Does the salt leave a trail more easily followed? I set out to find out. It wasn’t easy. But finally I found the answer, and will give you the link so that you too can share in this wisdom.

The postcard itself is dated December 3, 1911. And here is what our sender writes:

Excuse me fore not writing You know about the job sooner Well it is about the same as McCalls Ferry some can get jobs and some cant they hire and fire a man the same day all of us stands a good chance of getting a job. Wm. Lungren

Home On the Range With Jekyll and Hyde (with Some Recipes for Bear)

When looking at the picture on the other side do not think that I am in a country where they do that. I did not even see a rabbit yet. Best wishes to you and all. Huey

So says Huey to his friend Delphina back home in Illinois. Huey has come to Montana – and though he says he hasn’t even seen a rabbit yet, he’s decided to choose a postcard to send to Delphina with a picture of a grizzly bear chewing off a man’s leg while the man desperately and violently attempts to pistol-whip the bear in return. Or should I say rifle-whip? The man has a friend in among the fallen trees who momentarily will do the bear in – the bear will fall to the shot of his rifle. The friend’s moustache is so big. I wonder if the kickback and the smoke from the shot singed it . . . a pity if so!

But these are things we think of when we think of bear hunting and the call of the Wild West, where outlaws might reign and where people might go game-hunting often, particularly in 1912.

Huey. I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you haven’t even seen a rabbit. Huey . . . you are reminding me of a certain curious instance detailed in literature and in this movie clip from 1912 – which is when you write of non-existing rabbits.

If you did bag a bear, Huey, there are some great things you could put on the dinner table if you want to follow a recipe! I like the idea of a marinade then serving up a steak with a Scotch Whiskey Gravy, to be found here at the Bear Recipes site.

I bet it would taste better than that potion you just swallowed.

Thanksgiving Dogs and Turkeys

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You will have to whip this dog as he has run away with my turkey so I can not have any thanks-giving dinner. if he should bring it to you eat a lot for me with love. From Aunt Grace

Poor Harvard Starkweather. Not only did he have quite a name to carry through life but also an interesting hungry Aunt named Grace (of all things!) writing him notes telling him to whip a dog!

I once had a dog who carried me a turkey from the field to the back door. He was a stray dog, a happy one we’d named Tramp. Tramp was a large bloodhound mixed-breed mutt of a dark black color, with a lighter golden mask like a raccoon. The turkey dangled from his mouth as he stood at the glass door and smiled at me, wagging his tail in the late afternoon autumn sunlight. The turkey looked horrible, really. But Tramp was very proud.

Did he hunt and kill it himself for our Thanksgiving table? I don’t know. He may have stolen it from a hunter before it was collected. I told Tramp he should enjoy the turkey himself, and so he must have, for I never saw it again.

I have an idea that Tramp may have shared his wild turkey dinner, though – for there was a little girl dog who lived across the street over the hill a piece at the bedraggled farm of a horse-trader. Benny was, in the true sense of the word  (the old-fashioned sense of the word) a horse-trader – and often enough both his dogs and horses would run free to care for themselves if they weren’t bringing him in any money that day (and horses and dogs so often don’t!).

I’d knocked on Bennie’s door to find out if the little girl dog was his, and he did claim her, but said she wandered around a lot and he couldn’t keep track of her. Her name was Bluegirl, and she was the darlingest little blue-heeler you can imagine. Her ancestors were herding dogs, and she had the impetus within her to be the same . . . dashing round your feet she would leap and cuddle and feint trying in all her ten inches of tallness to take charge in a very foolish-looking way. When you’d lean down towards her though, her bossiness dropped like a fat apple from an old tired tree and in a sudden instant she’d flop sideways, then over, and back and forth squiggling looking for a tummy rub – and when she’d get it she  became a gleeful squiggling machine making little squeaky doggy noises with tiny slurpy pants in-between it all.

Bluegirl loved Tramp, and he tolerated her. He’d lay on his side on the back deck to relax and she’d slide herself right in next to his tummy, and if she were a cat her purr would have deafened the world she was so happy!

One day there were loud barks in the front yard near the pond and over the wide green stretch of grass I saw her surrounded by three huge dogs, all running and barking as if it were . . well, the closest thing that comes to mind at the moment is a football game, but the dogs hadn’t painted their faces bright colors in this case.

It turned out that Bluegirl had not been ‘fixed’. That was apparently something Horse-Trader Bennie hadn’t done. I got her into the house (in the vernacular this is called ‘putting her up’) I put her up and called Bennie on the phone and talked to him for a while. At the end of the conversation he said he wouldn’t mind if I took her to the vet to have this taken care of – and so it was.

She lived with us for about a year, then disappeared one day. I called Bennie to see if she’d been over at his place. He told me she’d been by and that he’d sold her to his mother-in-law (who lived in Florida) who wanted a little dog who wouldn’t be much trouble.

So, to Bluegirl and Tramp – Happy Thanksgiving! You were dear parts of our lives, and I send you both big tummy-rubs.

Little “Buddy’ in this video looks quite a bit like Bluegirl.