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Bath United Methodist Church Hosts Christmas Varmint Hunt

Bath United Methodist Church
Bath United Methodist Church: Services Sunday morning, varmint count Sunday afternoon!

One way to raise money is to build on what you have. Apparently the Bath United Methodist Church has varmints.

The weekend before Christmas this year, the small wooden church on the edge of Bath proper is hosting a varmint hunt. I receive the following information by e-mail:

  • Bath United Methodist Church Varmint Hunt
  • December 20-22
  • Registration and Rules Meeting Dec. 20 at 6:30 pm at the church
  • Check in Sunday Dec. 22 at 3:00 pm
  • Points will be awarded for coyote, fox, badger, raccoon, rabbit, and squirrels
  • $25 Entry fee per person
  • 1-3 person teams

Notice: no points for skunk. Do not bring skunk to church.

This hunt is church, not state, but you still have to have at least a varmint license to shoot coyote, fox, raccoon, badger, jackrabbit, or ground squirrels. Cottontail rabbit and tree squirrels are not defined by law as varmints, but Bath United Methodist will still give you points for them. I don’t know whether it’s the same points for each critter or if varmint-hunters will get extra credit for degree of difficulty. The numbers from Governor Noem’s trap-o-rama indicate raccoon are far easier to find than fox and badger, so I would think points for raccoon would be lower. As for coyote and squirrel, well, I see a lot more squirrels than coyote around Brown County, so I’d think coyotes would be worth more points, but squirrels are smaller targets….

I’m neither Methodist nor a hunter, so I won’t be out shooting the weekend before Christmas. But if I take the sleigh out for a holiday ride on the tundra around Bath, I’ll make sure I wear my blaze-orange Santa hat.


  1. Debbo 2019-10-02 15:48

    Is anyone old enough to remember the winter jackrabbit hunts they used to have in the 1950s-60s? The country side was overrun with jackrabbits, really.

    The dozens of hunters circled a big hayfield or slough in their cars and a few pickups and drove the rabbits toward the center. Escapees were shot. The ones who were herded to the center were clubbed. The day concluded with the families gathering for a chili or oyster stew meal in the township hall.

    That’s the way I remember it, but I was very young, 5-9 yo. I think there might have been a bounty or some value on the pelts, but I’m not sure. Maybe it was just cutting down the varmint population.

  2. Shirley Moore 2019-10-02 17:30

    Methodists are ecumenical when it comes to killing varmints and an afternoon of fun that will help fill church coffers kills two “birds” with one stone.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-03 07:13

    A group of people with guns facing each other in a circle requires some caution. But I have no opposition to rabbit stew. I would also try coyote.

  4. mike from iowa 2019-10-03 07:26

    Would you eat the family pet? Didn’t Obama the GOAT get roundly pilloried for eating dog as a child in Indonesia?

  5. Clyde 2019-10-03 08:59

    Jack Rabbits had a bounty on them and a friend that had a dedicated rabbit hunting car in those days used to sell them to a mink farm. The car was an old Ford with spotlights and a hole in the roof with a trap door over it.
    They are now extinct in my area and I am amazed that they would be considered a varmint anywhere. I miss them. An impressive animal.
    We used to get them in front of the car at night in the headlight’s. They would run but be reluctant to leave the beam of light. As I remember they really could run faster up hill than down and could hit 45.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-03 12:20

    Spotlights and a hole in the roof—straight out of Mad Max!

    Faster uphill than down? How’s that work?

  7. Debbo 2019-10-03 14:57

    Good story Clyde. Thanks.

    Jackrabbits are fast. We hunted them with a ’53 Ford flathead 4 door sedan. No trapdoor in the roof. We hung out the side window with the 22 rifle or maybe the 410 shotgun. Jackrabbits are quick too, dodging side to side.

    Cory, nobody fired into the center of the circle. That’s where the clubbing was done. The escapees were shot as they sprinted away. Of course some did get away.

    Jackrabbits were thicker than fleas on a dog in the 50s and early 60s. So were pheasants, foxes and lots of other wild game. There was so much more habitat. Soil bank was the main government program. I don’t recall details, but it was normal to see tracts of land that were covered with tall grass, plum bushes, cottonwood trees and other flora. The fauna loved it.

    Farmers kept habitat in mind when they planned fields and pastures for the coming year too. There might be a plum thicket in the middle of the field and it stayed there, rather than being bulldozed and tilled.

    It’s been about 60+ years since pheasants and jackrabbits were abundant in central SD. 😥😥

  8. Clyde 2019-10-03 19:53

    Cory, it was legend that they could run uphill faster than down or at least as fast and it appeared to us to be true. Supposedly because the back legs were so much longer than the front.

    The hole in the roof was lined with rubber hose so the shooter could stand in the back seat area and pivot his body to shoot on the run. Never went on one of those hunts but knowing the crew I’m sure they were pretty rowdy.

  9. mike from iowa 2019-10-04 14:28

    Speaking of varmints I just had a whitetail fawn amble across my yard and step into muddy garden spot. Haven’t seen a deer around here since spring. Lots of apples to be picked. Maybe it has a sweet tooth. It would need jaws of life to bite Connell Reds. They are very large, very hard late apples with a waxy exterior when ripe which occurs late in the season.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-06 12:51

    Rubber hose to pad the edge of the trapdoor—sensible!

    Debbo, even with that keen direction to only shoot outward, I’d want to make sure I was in the company of only the most well-regulated militia. ;-)

  11. Porter Lansing 2019-10-06 14:41

    Three of us would hunt jacks in the 60’s, sitting on the fenders of the old hunting car at about 25 mph. I remember I almost shot Dave. He said he could feel the heat of the 20 gauge BB’s as they went by his face. We did this near South Shore … at night, in a pasture, on a full moon. If you make a small incision between the back legs and slam the dead carcass against a tree or pole, all the guts come out in one group. After we cleaned them that way, we fed them to the farm dogs, fur and all. We justified this carnage because Dave’s Dad’s cattle would sometimes step in rabbit holes and injure a leg.

  12. mike from iowa 2019-10-06 16:08

    We used to catch them by hand, wipe the Treflan off their fur best as we could and move the nest over where I had already disked the Treflan into the soil. We did not hunt them or shoot them on this section of ground as they were quite rare. We never chased them at any speed down the gravel roads at night. They were interesting animals to have around and I barely see even one per year anymore and that one is most likely road kill.

  13. mike from iowa 2019-10-06 16:16

    Rabbits had their own club, Debbo. I owned an old short sleeved sweatshirt that said, “Rabbits, a loosely knit organization of fast moving fun seekers,” Wore that all through high school. Playboy it wasn’t.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-06 19:28

    Gruesome detail, Porter… but when holes are breaking useful livestock’s legs, I can see the point.

  15. Debbo 2019-10-06 20:29

    I was just chatting with a neighbor about jackrabbits this afternoon. He’s a lifelong Minnesotan, but told me about driving across SD at night in the 50s. He’s still amazed at the thousands of jackrabbits they saw. He said he’s still never seen anything like it. 😁😁

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