I must admit, as a "younger" reader I thought that this was a joke. 184.108.40.206 18:33, 22 May 2014 (UTC)
To add some further "nuance" to this story:
As noted above, at the time of the event the "newspapers ate [the story] up". But to give another perspective on this...
At the time when this story originally broke I was living in a somewhat rural area, and this story was greeted with a shrug by virtually everyone I knew. In short, anyone familiar with being in the woods understands that they should constantly be on the alert for any abnormal behavior by a wild animal since this can be a pretty clear indication of rabies. This is particularly true of any behavior that can interpreted in any way as aggressive --especially such unexpected behavior as a (small) animal moving *towards* a human being.
Needless to say, the described behavior --both swimming and moving towards a human-- is clearly bizarre behavior for an animal like a rabbit. Among my neighbors at the time the fact Carter attempted to distance himself from the rabbit (or indeed any wild animal behaving in a similar manner) was seen simply as common sense practiced by someone like Carter; i.e. an experienced woodsman.