Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Snowshoe Hares' in Transition Despite the Winter-Like Conditons
Photoperiod determines when the snowshoe hare transitions from all white winter coat to brown summer dress. The change occurs seasonally and on time regardless of temperature extremes or whether winter comes early or spring springs late...as is the case this spring. Here it is May and a major snowstorm is just passed and temperatures are expected to plummet in the state's coldest spots to low to mid teens or perhaps even lower. In other words don't be surprised to see a brown rabbit trying desperately to remain incognito during a spring blizzard or a white rabbit dashing boldly across a brown fall landscape.
Forest-dwellers, snowshoes prefer thick brushy undergrowth, such as found in swamps and thickets in northern boreal forests. Snowshoes range all across the northern U.S., as far north as the Arctic Ocean and in the mountains as far south as Virginia (the Appalachians) and New Mexico (the Rockies).
Fitted with large, furry feet perfect for navigating the deepest winter snow snowshoes forage widely utilizing an ever increasing trail system as winter deepens.
In some areas of the country, New England for example, hunting snowshoes ranks right up there with ice fishing in popularity. Serious hunters employ long-legged hounds to ferret out and give chase, while the hunters spread out hoping to ambush the fleeing hares who generally run a big circle to eventually return to the starting point...or very near. In what many would label truly a mispent youth, a buddy and me made the arduous, sometimes hazardous, drive each winter from our homes Pennsylvania to Vermont to particpate with old friends in "The Great Annual Hare Roundup." Trust me nothing but laughs and a great time had by all...Hounds seemed to especially enjoy gleaning the leftovers of the requisite feast following the hunt almost as much as the hunt itself...Imagine!
Admittedly the above shot failed to please the judges (see yesterday's post) but it sort of pleases me...After all, given the funk I found myself in that first day, eating skunk was indeed a distinct possibility. Stay tuned...