Finally, a cooperative Snowshoe Hare! These guys have been on my “hit list” for a long time. After completing their transformation from brown to white in early winter, they normally just disappear into the snowy landscape. And when you find one, it is often difficult to get a “clean shot” as they normally stick to dense brush and “dog hair” young Balsam Fir stands.
I found this gal (?) bounding down the road in front of me in northern Minnesota’s Sax-Zim Bog. Her leaps must have been three feet vertical and ten feet horizontal as she tried to outrun the black beast (my Subaru)! I kept on going thinking her last dash into the willow brush would be the last time I saw her. But, optimism is the wildlife photographer’s best tool, so I turned around. Fortunately, she had decided to freeze right along the road. Motionless she sat as I eased out of the driver’s seat. I crawled around to the back of my car and got out my tripod. Fortunately, I had on my surplus Swedish Army wool pants so I could lay belly-down in the new snow.
Just then a car pulled alongside…This is the bane of all wildlife photographers…You may be on a little-traveled dirt road for hours without seeing a vehicle, but right when you spot a subject and start shooting, a car comes out of nowhere to scare off your quarry. But this time the driver used proper etiquette and backed up and parked behind me. I shot for about ten minutes, slowly getting closer and closer. The Snowshoe Hare sat motionless, hunkering lower and lower into the snow. In the hare’s mind, it was safe…No predator could see her…for she was white in a white world. This is the strategy hare’s use to avoid predation by their arch-enemy, the Canada Lynx. A useless strategy in “brown winters” like we had had up until recently.
After getting within 15 feet, I decided I’d gotten enough shots. As I crawled back to the car, the other car pulled up. In a southern twang, the lady said “You were like a setter on point…But we couldn’t see what you were looking at!” I pointed out the still-motionless hare. With much gratitude, they enjoyed a satisfying look at one of our cutest boreal mammals.
Here is the “snowshoe” part of a Snowshoe Hare! Huge, out-of-proportion rear feet help this bunny float over deep snow across its northern range. Of course, its main predator, the Canada Lynx, also has oversized paws!
Top: Canon 7D, Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; 1/400 at f5.6; ISO 100
Middle: Canon 7D, Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; 1/500 at f6.3; ISO 125
Rear End: Canon 7D, Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; 1/1000 at f5.6; ISO 125 (not quite fast enough shutter speed)