This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
Although hares are usually reserved for shooting, occasionally recourse is had to trapping, snaring or capturing alive. The hare constructs a "form." This is sometimes a seat under a bush, sometimes a kind of bower, and sometimes a hole just large enough to conceal its owner under a shelving ledge of ground. These forms generally have a run leading out from them to a distance of a dozen or more yards, and it is on this run at the entrance of the form that trapping is feasible.1
The large-sized rabbit-traps, 4 1/2 or 5 in. jaws, Fig. 127, answer for trapping hares, and about three traps are required for each form. If the hare be in the seat, approach carefully as near as considered safe and set the trap, and instead of in the middle of the patch, put on the side of the patch furthest from the hare's seat. If the hare be not in the form, set the trap at the entrance or open side of the seat, and the earth and grass used to cover it must exactly resemble the surrounding part. About 5 yards from the form set a second trap, and on the side of the patch nearest the seat, and in the case of a long run place a trap 5 yards from the second. In the case of a gap or "smoot" in a hedge, place a trap on each side, and at the points where the beats are taken up and down. The traps should be visited late in the evening and a couple of hours after sunrise, the captured hare "crying" so as to call attention of men or animals, and tempt these to take unfair possession of it.
1 First mentioned in Practical Trapping, by W. Carnegie.
Hares are easily snared, the snares, called "hare," being strongly made, and costing 3s. 6d. per dozen complete. They are best secured by iron trap stakes instead of wooden ones, as they can be driven out of sight, though some gin-setters prefer pieces of sapling ash, well sharpened, instead of the ordinary split wooden peg, or even iron peg, driven so as to show no "white" to alarm the hare. The best places for setting snares for hares are gaps in hedges and gateways noticed to be much used, also tracks in clover fields, etc., especially where clover has been freshly cut, though the better place is the run leading to the form, or at its entrance. Several snares may be placed along the run, midway between the patches, and about half a dozen yards from one to another. The noose should be about 4 in. in diameter, the height from the ground being measured by placing the hand sideways in the run and extending only the thumb upwards; the lower side of the noose should then rest on the top of it.
Fig. 127. - Lane's Improved Dorset Rabbit-trap set for Hare.
Fig. 128. - Snare set for Hare.
Netting hares is a very old way 1 of taking them alive, and is carried on by dogs, trained for the purpose of driving, and are as adept at hares as are sheep-dogs at sheep-penning, and are usually known as lurchers. Two persons, both, as well as a dog, well up to the "game," are needed. Hares are known to be feeding, or having fed well, "squatted" in a clover or other field; then, on a fine summer night the trio, at dark, commence operations. The gate is opened and fastened back, a large net is extended across the gateway, with the lower edge lying on the ground about 6 in. on the field side. The men, one on each end of the net, but on opposite sides and ends, start the dog to work, as it does zigzag, round the field, and probably returns to the starting-point blank, when it turns, still keeping round the field on new ground, covering it all by in-and-out trotting about as wide as in the first journey, until at length a hare is found. The dog then puts up the hare, making no attempt to catch it, for all its efforts are directed towards driving it into the net by preventing its escape by gaps in the hedge.
Finally, the hare makes a rush for the gate and is caught in the net, and before giving cry is seized and bagged by the "liers" in wait.
1 Practised by " never work " unlegalized sportsmen on moor-edge farms and other out-of-the-way districts.