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Piskie Hare

Piskie Hare

What happened was incredible and beggars belief. A long, long time ago an old moorman had been doing a spot of poaching down in the valley of the West Okement. It was a still night and a full moon lit the moor with its translucent blue beams. The old man had been sat down in Blackator Copse waiting for any ducks that should decide to come by. Above him  the lofty sentinels of Yes tor and High Willhays stood sombre and silent, looking down in disapproval at the poacher huddled beneath the dwarf oaks of the copse. He been sat for what seemed and age with not a flutter of wings to be heard, his ‘siatics’ were making it impossible to sit still. Eventually the old boy decided enough was enough and his crock pot would have to go empty. He slowly stood up and with a groan tried to straighten his stiff back, as he did a low gnarled oak branch tipped his hat off which resulted in another grunt as he stooped down to pick it up. Slowly he wove his way out of the little tangled copse of shrunken oaks and walked down to the babbling waters of the Okement. A shrill squeal echoed down from the Slipper Stones high up on the opposite bank. “Huh,” he moaned quietly to himself, “at least the old fox ‘as ‘is rabbet supper.”

The old man had just reached the small, rocky island in the river (which the moorfolk aptly call the ‘Island of Rocks’) when he spotted a shape slowly lolloping amongst the boulders. It’s two, long, unmistakable ears twitching as it tried to pick up any sounds that would mean trouble. Luckily the poacher was downwind and so the twitching nose would be unable to detect him. “Bless my soul,” he whispered “a big fat hare, maybe the pot won’t be empty.” The silhouette of his sumptuous jugged dinner hopped beside a large patch of heather and began to nibble at the shoots. Slowly, inch by inch the old man crept forward, all the time keeping one eye on the hare and the other on the ground. When he was within a few feet of the oblivious animal he launched himself with an amazing agility into the heather. Within seconds one well practiced hand grabbed the hare whilst the other whipped out a small sack and buried the creature in its dark depths.

Piskie Hare

Now, the old poacher’s way home took him through the dark, eerie woods of Okehampton Park and to tell the truth the old fellow was always a bit scared of passing through them. Over the years he had many tales about the unearthly creatures of the night that were supposed to haunt that part of the moor. So as soon as the old man entered the black tangled mass of trees he strode out as fast as he could, never daring to turn around no matter what he heard. Just as he was in the deepest part of the wood he heard a shrill voice calling out “Jack How! Jack How!” At first he thought it may have been an old owl hooting for its mate but then the voice came again, this time directly ahead of him, “Jack How!  Jack How!” No sooner had the name been called out than the hare in the sack started to violently struggle and squirm until in the end it somehow managed to wriggle free. As it did so it yelled out in a squeaky voice, “Ho! Ho! there’s my daddy,” and scuttled off into the dense undergrowth. The old man was dumbfounded, and just stood in the dark wood scratching his head. In the end the only conclusion he could reach was that he had caught a piskie who for some reason had turned itself into a hare. When he regained his senses the old poacher shuffled off home muttering to himself, “blimmer crock pot be gwain’ ‘ungry affer all.”


About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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