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groovy mike's picture
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Crazy as a March Hare

 

From Outdoors magazine:

 

Crazy as a March Hare

Hares have an interesting place in the English language.

Have you ever heard the phrase "Mad as a March hare" and wondered where it came from?

March is the breeding season for hares, thus their odd behavior of boxing and jumping during this time of year. This is not a new phenomenon, and the earliest written testament to it was circa 1500, in Blowbol's Test reprinted by W. C. Hazlitt in Remains Early Popular Poetry of England, 1864. It states,  "Thanne [th]ey begyn to swere and to stare, And be as braynles as a Marshe hare."

In hunting circles, the phrase derived from a male hare's (bucks) tendency to travel several miles to breed with a female (doe) during the month of March. When a hunter's dog would disturb the buck, he would return to his home area miles away with the dog often in pursuit. This meant the hunters would either lose their dog or have to travel miles to find it.

The phrase "hare-brained" refers to the same behavior. This is also old and is referenced in Edward Hall's Chronicle, 1548: "My desire is that none of you be so unadvised or harebrained [sic] as to be the occasion that ..."

Other interesting facts about hares include that the rabbit in Bambi named Thumper derived its name from a female hares’ tendencies with her young. Hares do not live in the ground like cottontails, so they have their young above ground and the babies (leverets)  spread out to hide so that if one is discovered by a predator it will not find the entire clutch. When it is time for the young to nurse, the mother hare will "thump" her back foot rapidly to call them in to feed.

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Been there

groovy mike wrote:

 

In hunting circles, the phrase derived from a male hare's (bucks) tendency to travel several miles to breed with a female (doe) during the month of March. When a hunter's dog would disturb the buck, he would return to his home area miles away with the dog often in pursuit. This meant the hunters would either lose their dog or have to travel miles to find it.

 

Been there done that!  As a kid we would run the snowshoe or variaring hares up on Tug Hill and in the "dacks".  By the time March rolled around it was a risk if we went or not.  If the dog got on a March Buck out of his home area your dog was gone.  After searching and calling if "no dog" we would toss out one of our hunting jackets and come back that night or the next day to find a very tired dog asleep on the coat.

 

On a side note had one dog named "Sam", was a great rabbit (hare) dog.  Proub was if he cut a (fresh enough) fox track he forgot all about the bunnies.  Fox makes a much bigger loop that a rabbit.  He would (eventually) bring then back around and we would try to kill the fox.  If that did not happen you had to tackel the dog or Ol Sam would be gone for the next 10 mile loop.

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