Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.
It was early March, and Iowa’s spring thaw was gathering a full head of steam. Even in the north, snow cover was going fast. Another day, maybe two, and it would all be gone.
Camouflaged beneath the tawny canopy of last year’s vegetation, the cottontail held its nerve, sitting tight until we nearly stepped on it. Leaping into action, the cottontail beat a gazelle-like, high-speed exit. Attila exploded from my gloved fist and the chase was on. The cover was thick, but not thick enough. In spite of the rabbit’s fleet footed maneuvers — and in less time than it takes to read this sentence — the pursuing goshawk made its move. In one deft display of aerial prowess, the raptor pinned the rabbit to the matt, gaining instant and full control of what was destined to become our shared lunch.
The moment was bittersweet. Our hunting season, like the melting snow, was on borrowed time. Who could say? Maybe Attila had just captured the year’s final rabbit. If so, the event deserved to be celebrated with something special. A tribute dinner seemed in order – an open-air feast marking the passage of a glorious and exciting winter in the out-of-doors. There was but one way to properly prepare such a meal.