Rabbits were primarily caught by women, children, and the elderly. At times, rabbits may have been the main meal of a family for weeks. Truthfully, people ate rabbit at any time of the year but they frequently ate rabbit in late winter when other meat supplies ran low. Rabbits were caught year-round as they were also snared to feed to the dogs.
Old style snares are made of sinew from moose legs. This particulare model was made of quill from an eagle feather. Today most hunters will use snares made of wire or fishing twine. In the olden days, rabbit snaring would have been a joint venture, usually two or three women would go out and set snares in thickets where they could see evidence of rabbits. The snare, acting like a noose, would ideally be suspended from the thicket and tied into place with the hide string. Snares should hang far enough from the ground to catch the rabbit by the neck. When the head of the rabbit enters the snare it will tighten and choke the animal. Usually, each woman would set about twenty snares. If the rabbit was found alive, the hunter would have the unpleasant task of strangling the animal to death. The hunter was required to visit the snares at least once a day. Small game will rot quickly so the animal would have to be skinned and cooked as soon as possible.
Rabbits were also sought after for their skins. The netted rabbit fur was a popular material for making garments such as robes, boys snowsuits and baby swaddling clothes. The material was light, warm and the garments could be easily made by cutting strips of hide to be knitted into clothing. Snares could be made for other small animals or rodents such as gophers.
A myth time story about snaring rabbits
Rabbit Mother first appeared as a baby boy to a poor woman. The baby grew rapidly and began to provide caribou for the woman by immobilizing them so the woman could cut their throats. Rabbit Mother in disguise as the boy asked the woman for a caribou blanket, she covered himself and gave birth to large litters of rabbits. Before he released them he asked the woman to set snares around the camp. Once that was done, he released all the animals. The rabbits ate all the brush then spread all over the country. Humans have caught rabbits ever since. This story from myth time has been shortened and modified to give a brief synopsis of the story. There are many versions of the story, this version was collected from Tagish speaking peoples.
Kluane Museum of History, Burwash Landing